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Mobile County Magnet Schools Accept Application System

Mobile, Alabama - magnet school in Mobile County school system to open the application stage, and will be on Friday and Saturday open house (January 9-10).

Only Mobile County residents are eligible to enroll in a magnet school. About 6,000 students are selected by lottery each year, but that number will go up over the next few years, according to Marilyn Pace, supervisor of the magnet program for the school system.

When the school board agreed to move its magnet school in Chickasaw to the larger Eichold-Mertz Elementary last year, the magnet program gained more slots, Pace said.

Eichold-Mertz has about 500 students, but has room for 800. The school system will add 100 students each year until Eichold-Mertz is at capacity, Pace said.

It's a gradual process, because funding for teachers is based on the previous year's enrollment.

"Our magnet schools are growing, and we are always seeking good, quality students who want to participate in these exceptional programs," she said.

The school system has seven magnet schools: Clark-Shaw Magnet School of Mathematics, Science and Technology; Council Traditional School; Eichold-Mertz Magnet School of Mathematics and Science; Old Shell Road School of Creative and Performing Arts; Dunbar School of Creative and Performing Arts; LeFlore Magnet High School; and Phillips Preparatory Academy.

Clark-Shaw, Council and Phillips have been named national Blue Ribbon schools, a prestigious designation from the U.S. Department of Education that recognizes schools where students perform at very high levels or where significant improvements are being made in students' levels of academic achievement.

Parents are invited to visit the magnet schools and fill out applications at the two "see and sign" days, Jan. 9-10. Friday hours are 1 to 5 p.m. and Saturday hours are 9 a.m. to noon.

Volunteers, faculty and counselors will be available to assist with applications and to answer questions about the schools, according to information from the school system.

The deadline to be eligible for the first drawing is Feb. 27, Pace said, but the school system will continue to accept applications after that date, because additional slots open as families change plans over the summer.

The curriculum at the magnet schools is rigorous, and students must maintain a C average. The school system offers several intervention programs, including before- and after-school tutoring, to keep students from falling behind, Pace said.

"We do offer a lot of individual attention to try to help our children to be successful," she said. "These schools are accelerated schools; they do go a little bit faster, and expect a little bit more."

The magnet program offers enrichment programs as well, she said, including technology- and laboratory-based courses and opportunities to learn creative and performing arts.

"These are some of the best schools in the country," Pace said.

Students are selected by lottery, which is done by computer, she said. "It's about as blind as we know how to make it, to be fair to everyone."

Parents will be notified in early April, but school officials will continue to mail out letters as more openings are declared by principals, based on how students perform on final exams and on how many students move away or apply for transfers.

The application form is online at the school system's website, For information, call

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