CHAMPAIGN — There are still four days left in the early-registration period for Champaign's magnet schools, but applications for all three schools have already increased compared with last year.
Cheryl Camacho, director of magnet schools, said applications are up and this year's applicants are more diverse.
That's one of the goals of the $5 million magnet school grant the school district won last year, Camacho said.
"We have interest from parents that represent a wide cross-section of our community, that live in different parts of town and have different life experiences," she said. "It's exciting to see all of their children coming together in our magnet schools."
Champaign's magnet schools include Booker T. Washington STEM Academy, Garden Hills Elementary — which is "an official candidate school for the Primary Years Program designation and becoming an authorized International Baccalaureate world school," according to a district press release — and Stratton Elementary, which will focus on leadership in a microsociety.
There's still time for parents to go through the early-registration process for their kindergartners through fifth-graders. They may do so through Friday.
To apply, parents should stop by the district's Family Information Center at 1103 N. Neil St., C.
Parents can also apply for a magnet school during traditional kindergarten registration in March and traditional transfer registration in May, but Camacho said interested parents should apply now, because seats may not be available then.
"Interest has been really strong," she said. "If parents want to increase their chances of getting into a magnet school, they should do it during the early-registration period," which ends Friday.
Many of the applicants are incoming kindergartners and incoming second-graders for the gifted programs at all three schools. (Champaign's Dr. Howard Elementary also has a gifted program, Camacho said.)
Students from other grade levels have applied as well, from both within and outside of the district, she said.
The school district will not remove any of the schools' current students unless those families want to opt out, Camacho said.
Because Champaign uses a choice program, parents of children who have requested a seat during the early registration for magnet schools will be notified as soon as possible, she said.
Parents who have questions about the magnet schools can visit http://www.unit4magnets.org. Camacho said she answers questions submitted through the website daily.
For registration information, families can visit http://www.unit4registration.org.