Robotics on display at Coulwood STEM Academy

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools shows off one of the academic specialties available during options lottery.
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Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools shows off one of the academic specialties available during options lottery.


Matching dreams with schools: CMS magnet lottery gears up with expanded options

January 11, 2017 04:22 PM

More programs, more seats and a bigger marketing push mark the start of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ 2017-18 assignment lottery, which opened just as an ice storm swept through Charlotte and runs through Feb. 14.

With schools reopened after two snow days, CMS officials gathered at Coulwood STEM Academy on Wednesday to tout this year’s expanded approach to school choice.

District leaders spent most of 2016 revamping the magnet program. Their goals: Help more students pursue their passions, persuade families to choose CMS and start breaking up economic and racial isolation in schools.

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“We want families to discover that they can match their child’s dreams with our options,” Natasha Thompson, director of school options, said Wednesday.

This year’s menu includes new programs, such as a high school for future educators at UNC Charlotte, and expanded opportunities for such perennial favorites as Montessori and STEM magnets. At Coulwood, students demonstrated a 3D printer, computer-controlled flashing spheres and a drone buzzing around the media center.

“These students are the inventors of the future,” said Coulwood Principal Janet Moss. “These students are the future of alternative energy sources that could one day save our planet.”

Rising kindergarteners and other CMS newcomers need to enroll by Jan. 24 to take part in the lottery. The district is holding open houses and information sessions around the county throughout the month.

Current students need an ID number and PIN to fill out the online application. Thompson said those were sent home with students last week. “If you haven’t seen those letters, check with your child tonight,” she advised. If kids say they haven’t gotten the information, check with the school or the CMS magnet office, 980-343-5030.

Instead of one big countywide choice fair, the CMS tradition in recent years, the district is using smaller gatherings to push this year’s participation, as well as advertising on buses and in movie theaters. A new website,, provides information, including how-to videos.

Ann Doss Helms: 704-358-5033, @anndosshelms