Many local parents, dissatisfied with the quality of "normal" public schools, are eager at the prospect of sending their child to a magnet elementary or middle school.
"They're considered, by parents, schools of choice. They have integrated themes, which many families appreciate," magnet school enrollment manager Judith Singer told Patch.
An expert in the background of magnet schools, Singer hosted a elementary magnet school orientation on Wednesday, which began at 7:00 p.m. in the Government Center's cafe. Attendance numbered near 70, and nearly all of the attendees were trying to get their child into a kindergarten of one of Stamford's four magnet public schools:
"Parents sometimes feel that all the answers are with a magnet school," Singer said. "The main difference between a magnet school and a non-magnet school is how the curriculum is packaged."
Interested in securing better education in a safer environment, Heather Mazaraaos of Stamford wants to send her 4 year-old twins to a kindergarten magnet school. "Their current school district has very low scores...I want to give my children the best education," Mazaraaos said.
While admission is selective for Stamford's magnet schools, they still fall within the umbrella of Stamford Public Schools, and as such, are held to . "The achievement gap exists. In magnet schools, in general, achievement is somewhat higher," Singer told Patch.
Magnet school hopefuls must apply by a deadline of March 1, 2012. Applicants are then given a lottery number and divided into two groups: Educationally Disadvantaged and Educationally Advantaged.
According to a Stamford magnet schools, FAQ:
Students will be considered in the first group if they qualify for the free/reduced federal lunch program, are English Language Learners, or reside in income-restricted housing. Students will be considered in the second group if they do not meet any of these criteria.
Applicants are categorized according to their location to a magnet school, and some are given preference depending on several factors.
"Siblings rise to the top of the lottery," Singer said.
According to Singer, Rogers International School, which boasts a primary-years International Baccalaureate Program, is the most popular.