School Choice open houses to begin
By MEGHAN BRADBURY
Incoming sixth and ninth grade students and their parents have the opportunity to visit middle and high school open houses through December and January to help them pick the best choice within their zone before open enrollment for School Choice begins on Jan. 14.
District spokesman Rob Spicker said the open houses are held so parents and students can become informed as to the individual programs and opportunities each school offers.
“We always recommend students and parents to visit the schools to see what programs they have and the academics they have and see what interests and attracts them to pick their school,” he explained. “We want you to go check those out and see what you want to study.”
The School District of Lee County has divded the district into three school zones. Students attend schools within their zone with assignments determined, with some exceptions, via a School Choice lottery. Parents rank the schools they would like their child to attend based on preference with most students getting their first “choice.”
The Choice Open House schedule includes:
* North Fort Myers High School: 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11
* Lehigh Acres Middle School: 5:30-7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13
* Island Coast High School: 5:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 9
* Challenger Middle School: 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10
* Ida S. Baker High: 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10
* Diplomat Middle School: 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10
* North Fort Myers Academy of the Arts: 5:30-7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 14
* Mariner Middle School: 5:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15
* Cape Elementary: 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15
* East Lee County High: 6:30-8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15
* Lehigh Senior High: 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 16
* Pelican Elementary: 6-7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 16
* Trafalgar Middle: 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 16
* Riverdale High: 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17
* Mariner High School: 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17
* Varsity Lakes Middle School: 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22
* Gulf Elementary: 6:15-7:15 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23
* Caloosa Middle: 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24
“They offer many of the same things, but then they do have specific academies, programs, or attractors that students need to go and investigate and find out if they are interested in them,” Spicker said of the high school programs.
The same goes for middle school, which have different arts, advanced learning and gifting programs, as well as clubs and athletics.
“It’s a chance to see all the elements at each school to know what suites your children best,” he said.
Although there are also a few elementary schools offering open houses, Spicker said most schools invite parents into the schools to take a tour.
“Call the schools and schedule tours,” he said.
The Choice Open Houses, Spicker said provide parents and students with the opportunity to make informed choices before filling out their selection during open enrollment.
The open enrollment for the 2019-2020 school year is open from Jan. 14 to March 1. According to the district, incoming ninth grade students currently attending a middle school will receive a pre-printed application by Jan. 14 to enroll online. Students currently attending an elementary school, who will be entering sixth grade next year will receive their pre-printed application to enroll online by Jan. 22.
Those who wish to enroll in advanced programs such as IB, AICE, or arts, must have their application in by Feb. 1. Their acceptance, or denial letters will be mailed out on Friday, Feb. 14.
Spicker said the enrollment process is not on a first-come, first-serve basis, so they do not have to have their application returned by day one.
“They are no higher in the lottery process on the first, or last day,” he explained.
The pre-K students who took advantage of early registration will receive their pre-printed application to enroll online by Jan. 28.
Those who enroll online will receive notification of their school assignment online on March 15. The school assignments for those who enroll in person will be mailed Friday, March 22.