Program Magnet Schools

Frequently Asked Lottery Questions

Q:  How do I apply for a program magnet school?
A:  Applications must be submitted online at . Parents/legal guardians/custodians will need their student's PowerSchool ID Number to submit an application. This number is located on the student's report card or progress report or may be obtained at the student's school.

Q:  What are program magnet schools/programs? 

A:  Program magnet schools and programs have themes that guide the instruction of the programs, offering unique enrichment opportunities and educational philosophies.

Q:  How many program magnet schools/programs are there?

A:  There are 7 elementary, 4 middle, 1 secondary, 5 high schools and 9 career pathway clusters (9th and 10 grades only).

Q:  What is a program magnet school lottery?

A:  A computerized selection process that randomly assigns student applicants by the assignment priorities outlined by the DPS Board of Education.
Please see Policy #4131 Program Magnet Schools.

Q:  Once assigned to a program magnet school, do I have to reapply each year to remain at the school?

A:  If a student is assigned to a program magnet school, the assignment is good for the duration of all grades at that school, as long as the student is domiciled in Durham and their assignment is continuous. A student who withdraws from a program magnet school or relocates outside Durham County loses eligibility for continued enrollment at that school.

Q:  If my child is assigned to a magnet school through the Title I or Exceptional Children's Programs, is he/she eligible to remain at that school for the duration of all grades?

A:  No. In order for a student to be eligible for continued assignment, the student must submit a magnet school application and be assigned through the lottery process.

Q:  How many lottery seats are available at each grade level?

A:  The number of available seats varies from school to school and year to year depending on student retention, relocation, etc. The entry level grade at each school has the greatest number of lottery seats, as students in the upper grades must relocate, etc. for a seat to become available.

Q:  How many magnet schools/programs can be selected on the one application submitted?

A:  A student may select up to 3 magnet schools/programs including any combination of a calendar magnet, program magnet or CTE Pathway if applicable (Only rising 9th and 10th graders are eligible to apply for a CTE Pathway Program). The selections must be ranked by the applicant and will be assigned in order of ranking.

Q:  Can I change my school selection(s), student data, etc., after I submit my program magnet application?

A:  You may change your school selection(s) and update your address until the deadline of the published application period by updating the online application previously submitted.  

Q:  How will I know that my magnet school application has been received?

A:  Once you have submitted your student's online application, you will receive an online confirmation indicating the application has been received. You may also check the "dashboard" tab in the top left hand corner of your online application page or the confirmation page to view your choices.

Q:  If my child is not assigned during the February lottery, will he or she have another chance to be assigned in a subsequent lottery.

A:  Yes, all applicants who are not assigned during the February lottery will be "wait listed". If students decline their lottery seat, students on the wait list will be seated in the order they are listed. The last day to assigned students to all program magnet schools and CTE Pathways is the last business day of July, prior to the beginning of school.

Q:  What is a walk zone?

A:  A walk zone is an assignment preference that allows automatic assignment to students who live within one (safe walking) half mile of the schools that have this preference. Burton Magnet, Club Blvd Magnet and R.N.Harris Magnet Elementary are the only schools that have this assignment preference. A walk zone is not part of the lottery. It acts as an attendance zone, providing automatic assignment throughout the school year.

Q:  What is a priority zone?

A:  A priority zone is a designated area around the school that provides applicants who are domiciled in that area an assignment priority. This priority takes place when the lottery is conducted. It is not an automatic assignment, as there must be space available at the grade level requested. George Watts Montessori Magnet and Morehead Montessori Magnet are the only schools the have this assignment priority.  An application must be submitted, ranking the identified school as the first choice.

Q:  What is a priority choice zone?

A:  A priority choice zone is an assignment priority that takes into account applicants who live within the choice zone.  This preference takes place when the lottery is conducted. It is not an automatic assignment, as there must be space available at the grade level requested. Sandy Ridge Elementary is the only school that has this assignment priority. In addition, Sandy Ridge has an assignment priority is given to students who are domiciled in the attendance zones of the following schools: Easley, Eno Valley, Glenn, Hillandale, Holt, Little River and Mangum.

Q:  What is a link priority link?

A:  A link priority is an assignment providing a natural link from one magnet school to another identified middle or high school. An application must be submitted, ranking the linked secondary school as the first choice.
  • Rising 6th graders from George Watts Montessori Magnet and Morehead Montessori Magnet Elementary Schools are linked to Lakewood Montessori Middle Magnet School.
  • Rising 6th graders from Burton Magnet Elementary are linked to Shepard Magnet Middle School.
  • Rising 9th graders from Shepard Magnet Middle School are linked to Hillside International Baccalaureate Programme.

Q: What is a sibling priority?

A: A sibling attending priority is an assignment given to applicants who have a sibling currently attending the program elementary magnet school and who will be attending during the upcoming school year. An application must be submitted, ranking the identified elementary school as the first choice. A sibling applying priority is an assignment given to student applicants when siblings apply to the same elementary magnet school. An application must be submitted, ranking the identified secondary school as the first choice.
There must be seats available at the grades requested for the sibling group, to take advantage of this priority or none of the sibling group will be seated. If a parent does not want this priority, the sibling(s) should not be listed on the sibling applying portion of the application. This will allow each sibling the opportunity to be considered as a solo applicant for assignment.

*Applicants must submit an application and rank their school of priority as their first choice to be considered for any of the priorities through the lottery process.

*Please note that there is no guarantee of assignment for either sibling priorities, or link priority, as seats must be available at the grade level(s) requested.      

Q:  If I complete and submit my program magnet application at the beginning of the application period, will my child have a better chance of being assigned through the lottery process?

A:  No. All applications submitted within the application window receive equal consideration for selection during the lottery process.  

Q: What happens if I fail to accept/decline his/her lottery seat by the published deadline?

A: Your child will lose his/her lottery seat (No exceptions).

Q: Can a student residing outside of Durham County apply for the DPS magnet lottery?

A: No. If your address falls outside Durham County, you cannot apply for a magnet school/program. However, if you relocate to Durham County after the published application deadline, you will be eligible to submit a late magnet application for magnet schools that have available seats. This process may be completed by coming to the Office of Student Assignment and presenting your proof of residency in the form of a lease or deed and your picture ID. The applicant will be assigned on a first come, first serve basis until all seats are filled or until July 31, prior to the school year.