Parents Get Peek at Lansing's Magnet Schools

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The Lansing School District hopes more parents will choose its magnet schools -- schools with specialties like the arts, engineering, college prep or leadership. Parents had a chance to check the schools out Sunday.

"Middle school's right around the corner. And it's scary," parent Terri Badgely said.

Badgely was scared enough about her fifth grade daughter entering those tumultuous early teen years to try and keep her out of a traditional middle school.

For Badgely and other parents looking at Lansing's magnet schools, it's all about focus in education.

"You can keen in on certain things and not just -- wide open and not knowing which direction you're going into," magnet school parent Chitra Pulliam said.

District officials say magnet schools aren't just something different. They say the schools' students want to be at school -- even if they have a chance to miss for a vacation or doctor's appointment.

"They say to their parents, mom and dad, look at the calendar. Make sure that's one of my days that I have off," Lansing magnet schools director Worsie Gregory said.

Lansing offers magnet programs in math, science and engineering, international studies, the arts, leadership-- and a Montessori program.

"I'm amazing with budget cuts that these things are being offered," Badgely said.

They're being offered despite budget woes thanks to a federal grant for speciality teachers and other expenses. And while district officials say the program isn't necessarily designed to bolster the lansing district's flagging enrollment -- the options are attracting some parents away from charter and private schools.

"It's exactly what I'm looking for in a school," Pulliam said.

So how can you get into one of these schools? If you're the parent of a kindergartener, just fill out an application and take it to the magnet office. But, if you're the parent of an elementary, middle or high schooler--it's a bit more complicated.

"There's a discipline history report form. There's a recommendation from the sending school," Gregory said.

And there are two essay questions. But even if it's complicated, eighth grader Danielle Brown says, the magnet program is worth it.

"It has classes that will push me toward my career of what i want. And it makes me feel a little easier and confident that-- I know I can do it," Brown said.

Parents and students have until February 17th to apply to a magnet school.

-- in Lansing, Tony Tagliavia, News 10.