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District 196 Magnet Schools LogoMagnet schools offer parents increased choice in their child’s education by providing a concentrated theme that offers innovative ways to meet students’ learning goals through a particular focus, or theme. While giving parents increased choice, magnet schools still provide the district’s core curriculum in the areas of science, math, language arts and social studies.

The three existing elementary magnet schools were started in 2007 in response to Cedar Park and Glacier Hills being classified as “racially identifiable” schools under the state’s Desegregation Rule, based on having enrollments of students of color that were 20 percent higher than the average for all elementary schools in the district.

The desegregation rule states schools and communities must work together to design and implement “educationally justifiable, effective, voluntary strategies that provide meaningful choices of integrated learning environments for students and their families.” The research-based strategy chosen to address the rule, was the development of theme-based magnet schools that offer choice, innovative instruction, and utilized voluntary measures to address racial and socioeconomic segregation at the two schools. Additionally, by offering magnet programming at Diamond Path Elementary and Valley Middle School, enrollment has increased, student diversity is increasingly balanced, additional school choice options and voluntary desegregation has occurred at all magnet schools.

In November 2014, District 196 received notice from MDE that Echo Park and Oak Ridge were racially identifiable elementary schools, requiring the district to develop plans to improve racial balance at both schools. After a process of gathering community and staff input, the school board approved the transition of Echo Park and Oak Ridge to magnet schools.

Overall the goals of magnet programming center around five main areas: diversity, innovative curriculum & PD, academic excellence, high-quality instructional systems, and family & community partnerships.

Magnet School Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is a magnet school?

Magnet schools are free public schools that are organized around specialized themes designed to

appeal to student’s interests and aptitudes and attract students from a large attendance area. District 196 magnet schools do not require aptitude or achievement tests. Our magnet school learning environments are designed to successfully educate all students.

Q. What is a magnet student?

Magnet students are District 196 students who have been accepted to a District 196 Magnet

School and do not live in the school’s attendance area.

Q. How do I decide which school is the best school for my child? How can I know if a theme will be

beneficial for my five year old? How do I know what my child’s long range interests will be?

There are many factors that go into school choice. A tour of the school is a great way to gather

first hand information about the learning environment. Visit District 196 magnet schools during the

October Spotlight on Schools tours. You may also call the school to find out what times are available for individual tours. Families are encouraged to also gather data about a magnet school of interest by exploring the school web page, magnet brochure and school video (online). Magnet schools use the same core curriculum as all District 196 elementary schools. Learning is augmented with themed lessons and an inquiry-based learning environment. Learning at a magnet school will support the future endeavors of all of our children.

Q. How do I apply to a District 196 magnet school?

The application period is from the middle of November through the middle of January. See

Enrollment Guidelines on the magnet school web page:

Q. If I live in the attendance area of a magnet school, do I need to apply?

No, our magnet schools are still neighborhood schools and if your attendance area is a magnet

school, you do not need to apply. If you do not know your attendance area visit our boundary search tool at:

Q. If I live in the attendance area of a magnet school, but I want to attend a different magnet school, do I need to apply?

Yes, if you want to attend a different magnet school other than your neighborhood magnet school

you need to go through the application process. The application period is from the middle of September through the middle of November. See Enrollment Guidelines on the magnet school web page:

Q. I have more than one child, do I need to apply for each child to attend the school?

All children living outside of a magnet school’s attendance area need to apply in order to attend

If you have questions about our magnet schools, please contact us at or 651-423-7810.