Wichita Magnet Schools May Be the Best Option for Your Kids – Here’s How to Decide


While families in Wichita, and across the country, are continuing to adapt to the current school year’s challenges, they also need to start planning for the 2021-22 school year. One of the first choices families need to make to prepare for the coming school year is whether to apply for a spot in one of Wichita Public Schools’ 24 magnet schools. With deadlines approaching in January (high school) and February (elementary and middle magnet schools), families need to decide soon whether to enter the magnet lottery.

What are Magnet schools?

The Wichita district is unique in our region in offering what are known as magnet schools.

These schools are available throughout the district’s geographic footprint and are different from neighborhood schools in two main ways: first, they require an application and lottery selection process to attend (with the exception of neighborhood magnets); second, they have a theme that drives the way the school approaches its academic offerings and builds its school culture.

In Wichita, we offer 1 magnet high school (9th-12th); 4 middle schools (6th-8th); 2 Kindergarten through 8th grade schools; and 16 elementary schools (K-5).

What makes Magnet schools a good fit?

There are many reasons a magnet school might be a good fit for your young learners.

If your student is showing a keen interest in subjects such as math, science, technology, art, communication, leadership, or performing arts, one of our magnets in the themes of Arts, Communication, Leadership or STEM might nurture that interest. For example, we have a school that celebrates the great outdoors in every aspect of education at Earhart Environmental Magnet Elementary.

If your student thrives in an environment that maintains high academic and behavioral standards with a very structured learning environment focused on excelling in the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic, one of our four traditional magnet elementary schools or the traditional magnet middle school may be the best fit. These four elementary schools have geographic boundaries that identify which of the four your student should apply to.

If you are interested in raising a bilingual student fluent in English and Spanish, then Horace Mann Dual Language Magnet might be the perfect fit. Here students spend half of their time learning in English and half learning in Spanish, regardless of their native language.

What other considerations should be made when selecting a school?

If you already live in the boundaries for a neighborhood magnet school where the theme matches with your student’s interest, you will be able to attend that school without going through the application process. You can find more about all of our magnet schools on our website.

If early mornings are a challenge for you or your student, magnet schools may not be the best option. Most of our middle and high school magnet schools have an early start time of 7 a.m. to accommodate the transportation schedule. The two K-8 magnet schools start at 8 a.m., which is an hour earlier than most elementary schools.

If your child thrives in a self-directed, online environment, our Education Imagine Academy virtual school may be a better fit than a magnet or traditional neighborhood school.

To learn more about the variety of school choices and opportunities available at all grade levels, you can visit www.usd259.org/choosewichitaschools.

I’m interested! What are my next steps?

  1. Join us for the Virtual Showcase of Choices and Opportunities on January 7, 2021. From 5:30-7:30 p.m., representatives from all of our magnet schools, as well as all of our traditional high schools will be available for live video chats. Visit www.usd259.org/magnet for the day-of link and schedule.
  2. Complete an application for your magnet school(s) of choice by the appropriate deadline. Those interested in Northeast Magnet High School should apply by January 29, 2021. For all elementary and middle magnets, the deadline is February 19, 2021.Families can select up to 3 magnet schools to apply to based on first, second and third preference. All applications completed on time will be entered into a selection lottery.
  3. Decision notifications occur in February for high school and in March for elementary and middle schools. This notification will tell you whether your student was selected for the school or placed on the waiting list. If selected, you will have the option to accept that placement or decline it.

The leadership in Wichita Public Schools continues to be proud of the creative and innovative instruction that is happening in our district every day. We know that not all students thrive in the same environments, and we’re excited to offer a variety of options to the students and families in our community to help find the best fit for each learner.

Suzy Finn is the Marketing and Strategic Partnership Supervisor for Wichita Public Schools. In this role, she helps prospective parents, business leaders, realtors and more understand the complicated world of public schools so families can make informed choices for their students. She is a Wichita boomerang, having attended college in Milwaukee and working in Washington, D.C. for four years. Through a previous role with the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce, she learned about the many opportunities offered at WPS and is now #WPSProud to tell those stories of success to the community.