Magnet Programs

FAQ Sections: 

  • Magnet Questions
  • General Lottery Questions
  • Lottery Application Questions

Magnet Questions

  • What is a magnet program?

In a magnet school, it is not what is taught, but how the teaching is done. Magnet programs are theme-based to promote students' interests, abilities, and talents. In CMS, the North Carolina Common Core and Essential Standards curriculum is organized and taught in magnet schools using the magnet theme to deliver instruction. CMS offers various magnet themes, such as Visual and Performing Arts, World Languages, Montessori, International Baccalaureate, and many others. Parents are encouraged to consider their child's abilities, aptitudes, and talents when considering the magnet theme offerings in CMS. If parents find a magnet theme that is a good fit for their child and enroll their child in a magnet school that uses that theme, then their child is likely to find the learning experience more pertinent to their interests and will be more engaged in the lessons. Researchers have noted that magnet programs promote innovations in teaching and learning, increased parental involvement, greater student engagement, and diverse student bodies that, when added together, can lead to higher student achievement.

In North Carolina, the Common Core and Essential Standards specifies the standards, goals, and objectives to be taught to students at each grade level for each subject. The content taught in any NC public school classroom, therefore, is going to be very similar regardless of whether the student is in Charlotte, Raleigh, Asheville, Wilmington, or any point in between.

  • How do I apply to a magnet program?

Students who wish to attend a magnet program can apply through the online lottery process. Visit the Applying to a Magnet School page for detailed instructions.


Individuals submitting applications will be required to accept any magnet program entrance and continuation requirements in order for their application to be successfully completed. Students who are accepted into a magnet program have a guarantee to remain in that program as they advance to middle or high school, as long as they continue to meet requirements.  Visit the Magnet Entrance and Continuation Requirements page for more information.


Students who wish to explore a new magnet program must apply through the lottery process.  Scroll down the page for lottery FAQs.

  • How do I get an application for a magnet program?

If you are a new CMS family and enrolled before January 12, 2015, you will be mailed a letter with your student's ID number and PIN in order to participate in the First Magnet Lottery. If your child is a current CMS student, you will receive a letter with your ID number and PIN from your current school. Current and new CMS students can expect the letter in mid-December. New students who enroll January 13- May 15, 2015 will be eligible to participate in the Second Magnet lottery March 9 - June 5, 2015 at 10:00pm.  Visit the Applying to a Magnet School page for detailed instructions.


  • What is the timeline for applying to a magnet program?

The First Magnet lottery application period for the 2015-2016 school year will be December 5, 2014 - January 26, 2015 at 10:00pm.  A Second Magnet lottery will be held for families new to CMS who enroll between January 13 and May 15, 2015. The application period for the Second Magnet lottery is March 9 – June 5, 2015 at 10:00pm.  Visit the Applying to a Magnet School page for detailed instructions.

  •  How is a student selected for a magnet program?

All CMS students will be admitted to the magnet programs and schools based on a random number lottery if more students apply than the number of seats available. Scroll down this page for lottery FAQs.

  • If I have a student in a magnet program will his/her sibling be accepted into the same program?

The CMS sibling guarantee only applies during the lottery.  Students are not guaranteed sibling entry from the wait pool.  CMS guarantees that siblings will be accepted into the same magnet school as older siblings in that family if the following criteria are met:

  1. Siblings must meet any eligibility criteria before submitting an application for a magnet program.
  2. Siblings must identify the same magnet program as their first choice on their Student Assignment lottery application. For families new to CMS, the sibling guarantee operates for all siblings in a family after one sibling is assigned to a magnet program. For current CMS families, the guarantee operates for the younger sibling (or twin) of a current CMS student assigned to a magnet program. The first admitted sibling must remain enrolled in the school for the entire year in order for the sibling guarantee to remain in effect for the other sibling(s).

In instances where there is more than one program at a school, the sibling guarantee applies to the same program only.  For example, partial magnet schools have both a magnet program and a general academics program.  The sibling guarantee would apply only if the sibling applied to the same magnet program as the current student.  Sibling guarantee will operate for all magnet program options at Waddell Academy of International Languages and Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology / STEM.  Click here for more information.


  • What is a Magnet Expectations Agreement?

A Magnet Expectations Agreement is an agreement between a magnet school and the family which describes some of the main expectations for the school, the teachers, and the parents and students involved in the magnet program. It is a tool used to communicate to students and their families the unique features of the magnet theme that make the magnet school different from a typical school. Magnet Expectations Agreements can be obtained at any magnet school during an Open House visit or school information meeting, from the Magnet Office, or by visiting the Magnet Expectations Agreement page of the magnet website.

  • What are magnet program course continuation requirements?

Once students in middle and high school are admitted into a magnet program, they are expected to participate in specific components, to enroll in required magnet courses, and to pass the required courses. For more information, refer to Entrance and Continuation requirements on the Magnet Entrance and Continuation Requirements page of the magnet website.

  •  After my child is accepted into the magnet program, do I have to reapply every year?

No. Once students are accepted into a magnet program/school, they will remain in that school through the terminal grade, provided any continuation requirements are met. They will then be guaranteed continuation into the feeder school for that magnet theme, if applicable. Students with a guarantee to more than one feeder school must select the one they plan to attend by submitting a lottery application.

  •  What if my child is withdrawn from CMS after they were accepted into the program?

Placement in a magnet program is dependent on enrollment in CMS.  If you withdraw your child, or your child is withdrawn from the CMS system due to inattendance, they will be assigned to the home school upon reentry to CMS.  The magnet seat is forfeited.

  •  Is there a cost for the magnet programs?
There is no cost for the magnet programs grades K-12, however, some programs may require tests for course completion which may have a fee associated.  CMS no longer pays the exam fees for most IB and AP students, although need-based assistance is available to families.  In addition, the Pre-K Montessori program requires tuition and a transportation fee. Scholarships are available directly through the school.


  • Is my child eligible to ride the bus?

Transportation will only be provided if the magnet school serves the student’s identified transportation zone or is a county-wide magnet program. Please refer to the transportation information available on each magnet program page.

  •  Do I have to audition for Northwest School of the Arts?

All students entering the lottery for Northwest School of the Arts must go through a successful placement audition or portfolio assessment prior to the conclusion of the First Lottery. Late auditions will be conducted after this date on a space-available basis, and these students will become part of the established wait pool. The only electives offered at Northwest School of the Arts are in the arts areas. Athletic programs and marching bands are not provided.  Please contact the school for audition dates and times (343-980-5500 or

  • Do I have to participate in an interview for the Military and Global Leadership Academy at Marie G. Davis?

All students entering the lottery for the Military and Global Leadership Academy at Marie G. Davis must participate in a successful interview and submit a letter of interest to the school prior to the conclusion of the First Lottery. Late interviews will be conducted after this date on a space-available basis, and these students will become part of the established wait pool.  Please contact the school for interview dates and times (343-980-0006 or

  • What is the difference between a full and a partial magnet school?

A full magnet school is a school that offers one or more magnet themes and has no neighborhood attendance area. All students apply through the lottery and participate in the magnet theme. A partial magnet school is a school that has a magnet program to draw students to attend the school, as well as a neighborhood attendance area.

Magnet/Student Assignment Lottery Questions

  • How does the lottery work?

The lottery is used to assign students to magnet programs.  When there are more students applying to a program than there are seats available, the lottery runs on the following priorities:

  1. Students who live within the designated Magnet Proximity Area of a full magnet school (typically a 1/3 mile radius around the school), up to 20% of seats available at that school.
  2. Students who live in a magnet feeder area will be admitted in order of lottery number with the following limits: The maximum number of students admitted under this priority from any one elementary home school area must be proportional to the total number of potential applicants in the magnet feeder area.
  3. All students who live in the magnet feeder area will be admitted in order of lottery number.
  4. All students who live outside the magnet feeder area will be admitted in order of lottery number. Transportation will not be provided to these students.


  • What is the wait pool?

A wait pool is established when there are more applicants than available seats in a school options program. Applicants not successfully placed in their first choice school are added automatically to the wait pool for that program. Students are eligible for wait pool placement for their first choice lottery selection, only. At the conclusion of the second lottery process, the wait pool is converted into a wait list and any remaining wait pool applicants are placed onto the wait list according to a random number sort. Wait lists are accessed by the schools in July. If a seat becomes available, the school will contact the next person on the wait list and offer them a seat. Please make sure your phone number is current with CMS. The family has an opportunity to accept or decline placement. The school will continue to contact families until all available seats are filled. There is no guarantee of placement from the wait list. All school option wait lists are dissolved at the end of the first academic quarter. 

  • Why didn’t I get any of my options?

Placement through the lottery is not guaranteed; it’s possible that the final assignment was to none of the options selected. Some magnet programs have far more applicants than seats available, reducing the chances of winning a seat. If not placed in the first option, placement in the wait pool of the first choice is automatic.

  • I didn’t get the school I wanted. Should I request reassignment?

Request for reassignment may be submitted after the lottery notification.  Reassignment requests will be considered for one of the following reasons:

  1. Request to attend the student’s home school - placement is guaranteed
  2. Child of CMS staff - placement is not guaranteed
  3. Medical and/or Health Condition of the student – requires completed CMS Medical Packet
  4. Extreme Hardship – requires written explanation and supporting documentation

Request Considerations:

-Reassignment request will not be accepted for schools on the Closed Schools for Reassignment list.  Request to closed schools will be processed as transfers.

-Transportation is only provided to magnet schools that serve your transportation zone or to your home school.

-A change in high school assignment may affect eligibility to participate in interscholastic athletics.  For more information, contact the CMS Athletic Department at 980-343-6980.

-Students attending a school through reassignment must remain in good standing, adhering to the Code of Student Conduct to remain at the school.

  • I have been approved for a reassignment/transfer; does this remove me from my previous wait pool?

No.  You remain in the wait pool until you are pulled from the wait pool or until the 20th day of school.

Online Magnet/Student Assignment Lottery Application

  • Why am I ineligible for some schools/programs?      

You could be ineligible for any of the following reasons:

  • Student does not meet magnet program entrance requirements. (Example: LI/TD programs require that students entering grades 3 – 5 be Talent Development (TD) certified in order to apply).
  • Magnet program prohibits entry at desired grade level. (Example: Language Immersion only allows student in grade Kindergarten or 1 to apply for certain languages. IB, Phillip O. Berry, and Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) programs do not allow rising 11th or 12th graders to apply through the lottery). Students interested in these programs should apply through the Request for Reassignment/Transfer. For more information, visit the Special Application Procedures section on the Applying to a Magnet School page.
  • IB programs at the high school level are available only to students who feed from the appropriate transportation zone. (Example: North Meck IB serves students from the Violet Zone only; West Charlotte IB serves students from the Grey Zone only; East Meck IB serves students from the Green Zone, South Mecklenburg, and Ardrey Kell attendance areas only; Myers Park IB serves students from their attendance area only; Harding IB serves Harding and Olympic Community of Schools attendance areas and is available to students county-wide.)
  • School does not offer Exceptional Student service needed by student.
    • Why are only certain schools listed on my application?   

    Only schools that serve your transportation zone are listed on your application. Also, if your child does not meet the entrance requirements for a specific program, that school will not show up either. That way you do not risk applying for a school your child will not be able to enter.

    • How can I apply to a school not listed on my application?  

    Click the link below the schools list to access codes for schools not listed. Enter the appropriate code into the option box. Transportation eligibility will be indicated after you register the option. Most non-magnet schools do not have any seats available to students outside of their attendance area. Placement is unlikely, unless there is an older sibling at the school.

    • How do I know if I get bus transportation?     

    After you enter the option code and register your option you will see YES or NO for transportation. You can cancel the option at that time if you wish.

    • Can I change my choices?       

    Yes, any time before the application deadline. Each time you enter choices you should receive a new confirmation number.

    • How do I know my choices were registered?      

    You will receive a confirmation number. If you do not receive a confirmation number, your choices were not registered.

    • Can I submit a Second Lottery Application if I participated in the First Lottery?       

    Yes, families enrolled by the enrollment deadlines are eligible to participate in either lottery, however, please note that placing a Second Lottery application for the same set of schools will result in a lower wait list number.  If your child was placed in the wait pool in the First Lottery, it is not advisable to submit an application for the same set of schools.  Families should only submit a Second Lottery Application if they were ineligible to or chose not to participate in the First Lottery or if they wish to change their school selections