Cedar Rapids Magnet schools offer choice

Dr. Brad Buck, the new director of the Iowa Department of Education, photographed at his office in the Grimes State Office Building on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, in Des Moines. (Liz Martin/The Gazette-KCRG)
Dr. Brad Buck, the new director of the Iowa Department of Education, photographed at his office in the Grimes State Office Building on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, in Des Moines. (Liz Martin/The Gazette-KCRG)

The Cedar Rapids Community School District, in collaboration with our parents and community, is committed to providing additional choice options for families. These options are designed to even better meet their children’s specific learning needs, within our existing high-quality system. One important way in which this is being done is through the creation and implementation of Magnet schools. These schools not only serve our students through choice, they are also innovation hubs that are recognized as pioneers in bringing to life future student learning opportunities in CRCSD.

The K-5 Johnson STEAM Academy (JSA) and Kenwood Leadership Academy (KLA) currently serve the families in their neighborhood attendance zones, as well as over 100 students collectively from around the District. Johnson’s theme is STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics; students regularly work and learn through projects that integrate multiple disciplines. Student engagement and attendance has increased and is a major element in improving achievement.

Kenwood’s theme is leadership; with a focus on the development of leadership skills and dispositions in both students and staff to increase ownership and engagement in their learning and future. Student and staff attendance has increased, office referrals have decreased, and parents are indicating that they have seen a positive impact in their student’s ownership of learning, thoughts of school and outlook for their future. Because of our community’s interest in providing more choice for students and families and the potential for Magnet schools to accelerate the District’s progress on offering personalized learning, we are opening our first middle magnet school this fall.

Within the business theme, the Roosevelt Creative Corridor Business Academy (RCCBA) will follow three main pathways of learning: STEAM, Leadership & Entrepreneurship, and Global Systems. The RCCBA will provide a learning environment for grades 6-8 that honors Roosevelt’s vision to Educate/Empower/Achieve, and maintains its mission to provide a rigorous and relevant curriculum that empowers all students to become creative problem solvers and effective communicators in a diverse and dynamic world.

Like the elementary magnet schools, Roosevelt will remain a neighborhood school while a lottery will allow additional students from across the District to attend. Each of our magnet schools have lottery seats open for the 2017-18 school year. The application form can be found here. The deadline to apply to the lottery is March 12 by 11:59 p.m. for the elementary magnet schools, and April 7 by 11:59 p.m. for Roosevelt. Each school has established visit times for parents. That information can be found here.

Magnet schools are responsible for all the state mandates, testing requirements, and student learning expectations. Learners attending our magnet schools will be able to leverage their personal passions and interests as a vehicle to learn how to read, write, do math, and conduct scientific and historical inquiry, while learning important 21st century skills. Students will be engaged in solving real problems at school and in the community while working across content areas.

The early results from our Magnet schools are exciting and encouraging. These innovation zones will continue to inform our practices in the District and we are confident that Magnet schools will remain an important part of our improvement strategies as we work to make sure that every learner is future ready.

• Brad Buck is superintendent of the Cedar Rapids Community School District



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