1) Does my child have to test gifted to get into a magnet school? Unless it’s a gifted magnet school (which the majority of LAUSD magnets schools are NOT), no.
2) I heard magnet school admittance is based on points–how do you get points?
- 4 points if your home LAUSD school is PHBAO (Predominantly Hispanic, Black, Asian or Other)
- 4 points if your home LAUSD school is overcrowded (aka: Three-Track, getting more and more rare)
- 4 points for each year on the waiting list (aka: you apply to a magnet school and are denied, for up to three years, 12 possible)
- 3 points if a sibling is already attending the magnet school applied for
3) How and where do we apply? Is it complicated? Typically, the website (which contains both the catalogue of LAUSD magnet schools and the one-page magnet application) becomes available early in October at the LAUSD central offices downtown (333 S. Beaudry), local LAUSD schools and LA County public libraries. Applications are due in mid November. Most applications are handled through the website.
Office of Student Integrated Services (Magnet Schools): (877) 4MAG-PWT tollfree. LAUSD website is lausd.net. Useful keywords for unearthing magnet school information are going to be OFFICES, STUDENT INTEGRATION SERVICES, PARENTS AND GUARDIANS.
4) What’s the difference between magnet, SAS, and charter schools? For your intents and purposes, the simple answer is that LAUSD magnet schools have that firm October through mid-November application window and the points are calculated by computer downtown. SAS, schools for advanced studies, are gifted programs at the home school. Kids who would normally attend that school get in without a lottery which is held in Spring. Students who wish to attend a school that is not their home school will apply and hope to get in. SAS schools do not have transportation. Some schools have both an SAS and a magnet. At some schools, the magnet might be perceived as better. At others, the SAS is considered more desirable. This tends to be an ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ thing among parents, so talk to both sides, and be aware that some of the opinions will be akin to chocolate versus strawberry ice cream opinions. Charter school application processes vary from school to school, and are somewhat more fluid. For more charter school information, visit myschool.org (formerly charterassociation.org)
5) Is it true that my child has to get into a magnet or charter school in order to have any art whatsoever? No. Even regular neighborhood LAUSD schools have arts and enrichment programs–we recommend you begin your school search with an in-person visit. To find your home LAUSD school, go to http://notebook.lausd.net/schoolsearch/selector.jsp Thanks to many school district, city and county-wide iniatives there are many arts programs available at each school including visual arts, dance, theater, instrumental and vocal music.
6) What’s the LAUSD website for magnet info? http://echoices.lausd.net/
7) If I apply hoping to get waitlisted and accidentally get in, what happens? You have a couple of options. Hopefully you applied to a school you were at least moderately interested in, and you’re considering it. If you were strictly applying for waitlist points, you are essentially ‘unlucky’ and you are going to have to accept the fact you’re going to lose the 4-12 waitlist points. Please don’t ask if there’s a way around this. There’s not. Remember, LAUSD is running a program to get students in. Not to turn people down. And in the last several years, due to other options, points at many (not all) schools have been going down. And by mid or late summer, you can still get a call.
8) How long after school starts can they still call? Until norm day–typically 4-5 weeks after the school year starts. This goes for some folks and against others. You want to really get into that school, contact them when you get wait listed and then every few weeks after that. Possibly email them during the first week or two of school and let them know you’re still interested in your child attending. This works very well for magnets on the home campus. The kids will still have lunch, PE, and often some electives with their ‘home school’ and/or SAS friends. However, if your child is not receptive to change, and the call comes, be aware that not responding doesn’t get you off the hook. Sorry.
9) But…but…Balboa! Yes. Balboa is a lovely school. My son attended from second to fifth grades and had a good experience there. Fast forward a decade, and his sister got in twice: in first and fourth grades. We turned down first grade because she had a great group of friends. And see? We were ‘unlucky’ too. Turning down her points in fourth grade meant we had to be a bit smarter for her middle school options, but she was accepted at three schools (Walter Reed, Lawrence Gifted Magnet with only 8 points, and Millikan Performing Arts/SAS). We went with the performing arts academy and were happy for three years. She is now in high school, in the most advanced math track. She’ll finish Calc BC as a junior. Balboa is a lovely place, but it’s not the ONLY place for gifted or highly gifted kids. Since Balboa does not start until first grade, your child will need to start somewhere else. Don’t overlook the fact that the school you choose for kinder might be a great place for your child for six years, rather than just one.