Learn Your Child’s Options at the School Choice Open House Nov. 2

It might seem a bit premature to be thinking about the 2014–2015 school year, but parents who want to learn about the vast array of options HISD has to meet the needs, talents, and/or interests of their children should begin the process now.

The district will begin accepting applications for Magnet programs for the coming school year on Mon., Nov. 4, and parents must submit those applications on or before Fri., Dec. 20, 2013, for guaranteed first-round consideration.

To assist families in choosing a school, HISD will be hosting its annual School Choice Open House on Sat., Nov. 2, at Northwest Mall (9500 Hempstead Hwy., 77092). The event will take place from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m., and representatives from many of HISD’s schools of choice will be on hand to answer questions and offer information about their programs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I’m not going to be able to attend the School Choice Open House. How can I get more information about the campuses I’m interested in?

A: If you miss the open house, you can still take advantage of Magnet Awareness Week (Nov. 4–8), during which schools with Magnet programs will offer daily tours for interested parents. The tours will be conducted each day starting at 1:00 p.m. After Nov. 8, parents should phone individual schools for a schedule of tours and other events that may be conducted.

Q: My child is about to transition from elementary to middle school or from middle to high school. Where can I learn more about his/her options?

A: HISD will be offering special, campus-based school choice fairs through mid-November for parents in these situations. A full schedule is available here.

Q: What if I want to send my child to an early college high school, or one of the specialty programs that isn’t considered a magnet (such as the Futures Academy)?

A: With the exception of South Early College High School, early college high schools are not considered magnet campuses, and they have a separate application process. Please contact those schools directly for details on how to apply.

Because they are administered through the Career and Technical Education department, the Futures Academies also require a separate application, even if they are located in a school with a magnet program. You can find details on those programs here.

Q: I want to enroll my child in preschool next fall. What are my options?

A: Full-day prekindergarten programs are available at no charge to students who meet certain criteria. Parents of students who do not meet the eligibility requirements to attend prekindergarten tuition-free may enroll their four-year-old child in a full-day, tuition-based pre-kindergarten program at participating neighborhood schools on a space-available basis. The state-set fee is $4,590 per year, which may be paid in 10 payments of $459.

For additional information, please visit the Early Childhood Department’s website or call 713-556-6882.

Q: I’ve heard that HISD is no longer accepting hard copies of magnet applications. Is this true?

A: No. The district will be launching an online application system this year that allows parents to submit their applications electronically, but paper applications will still be accepted.

Q: Last year, I had to submit a separate application to each magnet school my child applied to, and indicate our first, second, and third choices for Vanguard programs. Is that still the case?

A: Yes and no. The process for submitting hard copy applications remains the same, but if you use the new online application, you can select up to 10 possible programs for each child, with a maximum of five being Vanguard programs. On the electronic form, you will not be required to rank your preferred schools, but you must submit the required documentation to one of your selections (not necessarily your top choice), and it will be shared automatically with the other schools. If you have applied to one or more Vanguard Magnet schools, your documentation must be submitted to a Vanguard Magnet school.

Q: What happens if I miss the deadline for guaranteed first-round consideration of my child’s magnet application?

A: Applications will still be accepted, but students will only be considered on a space-available basis.

Q: When will I find out if my child was accepted into any of the magnet programs we applied for?

A: Parents will be notified of the status of each magnet application on Fri., March 28, 2014.

Q: How long do I have to make a decision once my child has been accepted into a magnet program?

A: Parents must notify their Magnet school of choice (postmarked or online) of their intent to enroll their child there by Fri., April 11, 2014.

Q: I still have questions. Who can I call for assistance?

A: Please call the Office of School Choice at 713-556-6947.