Deadlines loom for Cedar Rapids magnet school lotteries

Cedar Rapids set to open second magnet school

Third-grader Aryssa Harkrieer works on a reading exercise in Stace James-Colbeck’s class at Kenwood Elementary School in Cedar Rapids on Monday, Nov. 10, 2014. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Third-grader Aryssa Harkrieer works on a reading exercise in Stace James-Colbeck’s class at Kenwood Elementary School in Cedar Rapids on Monday, Nov. 10, 2014. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — With a second magnet school beginning this fall in the Cedar Rapids Community School District, students from outside the district will have the ability to apply for a spot in either school.

The district’s first magnet school, Johnson STEAM Academy, 355 18th St. SE, was converted last year into a magnet school focusing on science, technology, engineering, the arts and math and allowing families who do not live within the elementary school’s attendance boundaries to send their children there anyway if they qualify and are chosen through a lottery.

This fall, Kenwood Elementary at 3700 E Ave. NE becomes the Kenwood Leadership Academy magnet school, focusing on leadership and life skills.

The district says it will consider K-5 students from outside the district for attendance at either theme school, although there are application deadlines and a lottery and space is limited.

Cassidy Reinken, Johnson’s magnet school coordinator, said opening the lottery to students outside the district is new.

“We wanted to extend the offer for students from outside of the Cedar Rapids Community School District to participate in the lottery because we know the importance of providing a choice to parents,” Reinken said. “Basically, if we have open seats, why not allow other kids to participate in it?”

Students who live within each magnet school’s attendance zone are automatically allowed attend the school and parents do not need to apply for a lottery.

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If a student living outside a magnet school attendance zone — but still within the Cedar Rapids district — wants to attend one of the magnet schools for the first time, his or her parents must enter a lottery.

If a student living outside of the Cedar Rapids district wants to attend either of the magnets, his or her parents must apply both for open enrollment and a lottery.

The deadline for open enrollment is Tuesday and the deadline for entering a lottery is April 1. Links to online application forms can be found at the district’s website at www.cr.k12.ia.us.

Johnson Principal Candace Lynch said the first year at the district’s first magnet school has been going well. About 30 of the school’s 375 students are from outside the Johnson community.

“We have seen the interest and engagement levels of our students go up. Children who are excited about their own learning, and the numbers of our students who are reporting math, science and engineering as their favorite subjects increase,” Lynch said in an email.

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