Every parent wants a great education for their child. But many may not know how to ensure a specialized program is best suited to meet their students' career goals.
Not to worry. The Palm Beach County School District makes it easy with its Choice and Career Options department. It offers hundreds of programs in dozens of subjects for students interested in studying everything from entrepreneurship to engineering; computers to culinary arts.The choice program, started in 1998, lets students explore interests and gives them a head start on career plans.
Below, the department answers a few of the most frequently asked questions about the Choice and Career Options program.
Q: Who qualifies for choice programs?
A: Any student who resides in Palm Beach County year-round is eligible. Some programs have specific qualifications, such as a certain GPA or auditions for our arts programs.
Q: How does a child get into a choice program?
A: Parents are strongly encouraged to visit the choice site to apply online, but paper applications can be picked up from the school. The application window for the next school year is from Nov. 1 to Jan. 31 for most programs. For our arts programs, the window is from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31. An independent agency then conducts a lottery, and students are selected at random. Parents are typically notified the end of March or beginning of April.
Q: How is a child transported to a choice program at a distant school?
A: Parents must get their child to the nearest bus stop for the school hosting the program, and we provide bus transportation from there. Parents can also provide their own transportation. We offer the majority of our programs regionally, so chances are there is a school nearby that offers the program a student wants.
Q: How many choice programs does the school district offer?
A: We have 300 programs at 102 elementary, middle and high schools in Palm Beach County. And we are adding programs as demand and resources allow.
Q: Where can parents find information about choice programs?
A: Parents can click here to visit the Choice and Career Options site, can call the Choice and Career Options office at 561-434-8755 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. On the website, parents can click on the Choice Programs booklet for program descriptions, maps and more.
Q: What should a parent do if their child is denied entry?
A: If a student is not selected via the lottery, they are put on a wait list and must go to their zoned school. However, they can be selected for a program through the first day of school because seats open up and are filled from the wait list.
Q: If one child is in a program, does that mean siblings get preference to get in as well?
A: Yes. We have several kinds of preferences. We give the applications more weight for siblings if the older sibling will also be in the program. We also give more weight to applications from students who live in areas from which we want to attract students. Also, if a student is in a middle school program, we give their applications more weight if they want to get into the same high school program.
Q: What happens if a program ends or closes?
A: That doesn’t happen often, but if a program is no longer sustainable, schools can apply to end it. Students in that program will stay in until they graduate, or the students will be put into the same program at another school.
Q: What’s the purpose of choice programs?
A: If a student is interested in studying a subject, choice programs allow us to tailor their education specifically for them. This is the method we put in place to make that tailored education happen.
Q: How many Palm Beach County students are in a choice program?
A: At any given time in the 2015-16 school year, we had 40,000 students participating. And we had more than 30,000 applications for this year.SOURCE:
• Choice and Career Options department with Palm Beach County School District