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 student's career goals.
Not to worry. The School District of Palm Beach County makes it easy. Its Department of Choice and Career Options offers hundreds of programs in dozens of subjects for students interested in studying everything from entrepreneurship to engineering and computers to culinary arts.
The choice program, started in 1998, encourages students to explore interests and provides a head start on career plans. Every student living year-round in Palm Beach County, entering pre-kindergarten through grade 12, is eligible to apply to a choice program. Some programs have specific qualifications, such as a certain GPA or auditions for arts programs.
Q: HOW WOULD MY CHILD GET INTO CHOICE?
A: Applicants who meet the eligibility criteria are entered into a random lottery selection process. Parents are strongly encouraged to visit the district's choice site to apply online, but paper applications are available at the choice office and online. The application window for the next school year is from Nov. 4 through Jan. 24 for most programs. For our arts programs, the window is from Nov. 4 to Dec. 13. Parents are notified of the lottery results in April.
Q: HOW WOULD MY CHILD BE TRANSPORTED TO A DISTANT SCHOOL?
A: Parents must get their child to the nearest bus stop for the school hosting the program, and the school district provides 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.Answers to additional concerns and other frequently asked questions are available at mypbchoiceapp.com/faq.
Q: HOW MANY CHOICE PROGRAMS DOES THE DISTRICT OFFER?
A: We have over 300 programs available for students to participate in at their zoned school or at a school of choice. We are adding programs as demand and resources allow.
Q: WHERE CAN I FIND INFORMATION?
A: If a student is not selected via the lottery, they are put into a wait pool but should plan on attending their zoned school. However, they still may be selected for a program through the first day of school because seats open up and are filled from the wait pool.
Q: DO SIBLINGS GET PREFERENCE TO GET IN?
A: Yes. We have several kinds of preferences in the lottery. A certain percentage of applicants having a verified preference are selected prior to the general applicant selection. We give the applications more weight for siblings if the older sibling will also be at the same school (sibling preference). We also give more weight to applications from students who live in areas from which we want to attract students (SAC preference). 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 (strand preference).
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?
A: If a student is interested in studying a career or academic-themed subject, choice programs allow us to tailor their education specifically for them. Choice programs provide innovative and rigorous academic instruction by specially trained teachers.
Q: HOW MANY STUDENTS ARE IN CHOICE?
A: At any given time in the 2019-2020 school year, we had 40,000 students participating.SOURCE:
• Department of Choice and Career Options, Palm Beach County School District