There Are A Number Of ‘Choice Schools’ In Hamilton County That Might Be Good Option For Many Families.
Published January 8, 2021
Hamilton County, TN – While the Hamilton County School Systems have made many changes to the school schedule, including online-only, for the time being, parents do have other options.
There are a number of ‘choice schools’ in Hamilton County that parents can take advantage of and that number continues to grow.
As parents think of what the 2021-22 school year will bring, choice schools might be a good option for many families.
Hamilton County has nine magnet schools, eleven open enrollment schools, five early college programs, as well as 30 career-related high school programs which are called Future Ready Institutes.
These schools are options for families who are seeking alternate learning plans for the next school year, but they only have until the end of January. The deadline for any choice lottery applications is January 31.
The choice options include two new open-enrollment schools and a new Future Ready Institute. The new open enrollment schools are Loftis Middle School and Ooltewah Middle School.
The school choice facilitator for Hamilton County, Lindy Mathews, spoke about the decision to include these two schools.
“We look for schools that have space and programs that might appeal to students and families in the community. For example, Loftis has a very strong, rigorous academic program, and Ooltewah Middle has exciting opportunities around innovation and eLabs. Another example is Rivermont, which has a strong STEM program.” Mathews said.
Hamilton County has been using Rivermont Elementary as an open enrollment school for three years, allowing out-of-zone students to attend, and they have been adding more since then. Over 350 students have been admitted to the county’s open enrollment schools for the next school year.
They are also adding Institute of Social Media, Marketing and Sports Management at Red Bank High School as another Future Ready Institute. In August of 2020, Hamilton County began providing transportation to these institutes for out of zone students and they will continue to do so for the following school year.
For now, the only open enrollment school that provides out of zone transportation is Howard Connect Academy.
Each of these schools will have the same application process as well as deadlines. The priority deadline for the lottery for all choice schools is January 31. The results are shared with families on February 15 and they will have until February 24 to respond to any offers. On March 1 the applications will reopen.
In previous years, students were asked to provide a rank of their top three options, but this year they are only asked to make one choice. During the application, families are able to apply for Hamilton County Virtual School as well.
Cody Patterson, Hamilton County School Communications Officer, said “there is a follow-up screening process that will help the school and the family determine whether the virtual school is an appropriate choice for the student.”
At the time, choice schools let families choose between in-person class days and online-only learning. However, Patterson said those choices might look different for the next school year depending on the Covid virus.