Applying for Magnet Schools in Hamilton County

Applying to Magnet Schools in Hamilton County | Chattanooga Moms Blog

So, y’all, we won the lottery.

No, not the millions of dollars kind. (Sadly.) But a few years ago, when my oldest child was in preschool, we won the lottery with the number 23. It was good enough to secure us a spot at one of the HCDE (Hamilton County Department of Education) magnet schools. We were thrilled, and we have been so happy with the school our children attend. The building itself might be crumbling, but the community we’ve found there has been phenomenal. 

(For my kids’ protection, I’m going to refrain from mentioning which school they go to, so I hope you’ll understand.)

(Also, I’d like to bypass all the arguments for and against charter schools here. I can definitely see both sides. I’m just trying to help along those of you who might be going through this process.)

Warning: You Have to Start Sooner Than You Think!

Will your child be going to kindergarten next year? (Or could they, even if you think you might redshirt?) You might have to start the application process NOW! Some schools also start in sixth or ninth grade.

Four Categories

There are four categories of schools to which you can apply:

  1. Center for Creative Arts (CCA)

    CCA is for grades 6-12 and students major in different aspects of the arts (theater, music, technical, vocal, visual, etc.). Applications are accepted on the HCDE website from November 1 to January 31 of the school year prior to admittance. Once the application is received, you are mailed information about their audition process, which takes place in February. CCA is not a lottery system; it is entirely based on auditions. Out-of-county students can apply, but they are charged tuition if they attend the school. 

  2. Zoned/Lottery Schools

    This group of schools first admits students who live in the zone for the school, siblings of current students (with an application), and then students through a lottery. These schools are: Barger Academy of Fine Arts; Battle Academy; Brown Academy; East Lake Academy of Fine Arts (grades 6-8); Lakeside Academy of Math, Science, and Technology; Normal Park Museum Magnet; Tyner Academy (grades 9-12); and Tyner Middle Academy (grades 6-8). A lottery is performed each year for each grade level. Brown Academy and Battle Academy also give priority to students of parents who work full-time in downtown Chattanooga.

  3. Paideia Schools

    Chattanooga School for the Arts & Sciences (CSAS) and Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts (CSLA) are sister schools of the Paideia philosophy of learning. CSAS is K-12 and CSLA is K-8, with the opportunity to attend CSAS for grades 9-12. These schools are based only on lottery (after sibling admission) and have a meeting to attend before you can submit an application. They do keep a wait list, and you can apply to be added to the wait list before any school year.

  4. STEM School (grades 9-12)

    A certain number of spots is allocated from each high school in the county for students to be admitted to STEM School Chattanooga. Students apply during their eighth grade year. Information about enrolling students for higher grades can be obtained by contacting the STEM School Chattanooga office. More details can be found here

Applying to Magnet Schools in Hamilton County

What Does It Mean for Your Child to Attend a Magnet School?

The most important thing to keep in mind if your child attends a magnet school is that each year, parents are required to do 18 hours of volunteering for the school. This 18 hours of required volunteering time is a minimum per family; parents, step-parents, and grandparents can fulfill the requirement. 

There also may be requirements about conferences, attendance, and behavior. If these and the volunteer hour requirements fail to be met, you can lose your spot at the magnet school. 

Brown Academy, Battle Academy, and Normal Park Museum Magnet only have buses for students in their zone, so if you attend those schools and are not in the zone, you will have to provide your own transportation. Other schools have localized stops in different areas, but will not come to your neighborhood, generally.

Siblings of current students will be given priority admission, but you will have to fill out the admission paperwork for each student. For CSLA and CSAS, you will have to attend all three events again in order for siblings to be eligible as well. 

Applying to Magnet Schools in Hamilton County

Dates for 2018-2019 Admission

For CCA

  • Complete the application, found online or at the school, between November 1, 2017 and January 31, 2018. 
  • Auditions will be held in February.
  • Students will be notified of acceptance in March.

For Zoned/Lottery Schools and STEM School

  • Submit an application on the Hamilton Country Department of Education website (or get a paper copy at the Central Office or any magnet school) between November 1, 2017 and January 31, 2018. You will note your first and second choice for schools. 
  • The lottery date has not been released yet, but it will be in late February. In 2017, it was February 24. The lottery is live-streamed on a website or parents are allowed to attend in person. Lottery numbers will be posted on the HCDE website as well after the lottery takes place.
  • Letters of acceptance are sent out within three weeks of the lottery.

CSLA and CSAS are now requiring you to go through the process at each school if you want to apply to both. Please note the dates for each, even though the process is the same.

For CSAS

  • Required information meeting for parents on either September 21 or 26, 2017, at 6pm in the school auditorium. After this meeting, applications can be filled out and turned in.
  • Lottery on October 4, 2017, at 1pm. Families with numbers 1-50 will be contacted and go through the rest of the process. This does not guarantee a spot, but helps to not waste the time of families with higher lottery numbers; families with numbers higher than 50 will be placed on the wait list for grades 1 and above.
  • School tour must be completed by a parent October 19, 26, or 27 at 10am.
  • Socratic Seminar must be attended by a parent November 9 or 14 at 6pm.
  • After attending the Informational Meeting, having a number 1-50, taking a school tour, and attending the Socratic Seminar, students will be eligible for admittance to CSAS. Failure to attend all of these will result in ineligibility. Students will be notified of admittance by January 15, 2018.

For CSLA

  • Required information meeting for parents on either September 19 or 25, 2017, at 6pm in the school auditorium. After this meeting, applications can be filled out and turned in.
  • Lottery on October 4, 2017, at 1pm. Families with numbers 1-50 will be contacted and go through the rest of the process. This does not guarantee a spot, but helps to not waste the time of families with higher lottery numbers; families with numbers higher than 50 will be placed on the wait list for grades 1 and above.
  • School tour must be completed by a parent October 17 or 26 at 9:30am or 10:30am.
  • Socratic Seminar must be attended by a parent November 9 or 13 at 6pm.
  • After attending the Informational Meeting, having a number 1-50, taking a school tour, and attending the Socratic Seminar, students will be eligible for admittance to CSLA. Failure to attend all of these will result in ineligibility. Students will be notified of admittance by January 15, 2018.

That is a ridiculous amount of information, but I hope it will be helpful to those of you applying to magnet schools. May the odds be ever in your favor! 

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One Response to Applying for Magnet Schools in Hamilton County

  1. Tiffany (clueless single mama) September 8, 2017 at 8:34 am #

    Thank you so much for this information! You mentioned having to start sooner than you think and I’ve heard that from other parents as well. I know nothing about the public school system because I attended a private school my whole life. Unfortunately, I will not be able to provide that for my son since I am a single mom. I thought maybe magnet schools would be the next best thing?

    Anyway, My son is 3 and I would like for him to be able start at a magnet school in kindergarten (2019-2020). We would have to apply through the lottery process. Is this something you think I should start doing now? Do I need to try to get him on some list? I haven’t been able to find a clear answer searching through the website and contacting someone at HCDE is like calling the White House. I’ve heard other parents say their child wasn’t accepted until like 5 years later! Any advice will be grateful?? i am doing this all on my own and have absolutely no idea what I’m doing!

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