Polk County School Choice Options – Magnet, Charter, IB, Academies & more

2017-10-25T12:29:30+00:00 October 24, 2017|Education|

Choice schools, charter schools, magnet schools, zoned schools, fine arts schools, academies, private schools… my head starts spinning when I start talking about schools in Polk County.

There are numerous options when it comes to educational opportunities for our children in Lakeland and across Polk County. However, the process of researching those options and figuring out HOW and WHEN to apply for specific schools can be a daunting task! We’ve tried to simplify things and help you figure out how to navigate the application process.

Every school listed here is a Polk County Public School, and is FREE for grades K-12. We do have a list of private schools in our Education Directory.

While the start of the 2018-2019 school year is still months and months away, Open Enrollment is when you must apply for anything other than your assigned zoned school.

Open Enrollment Dates for Polk County Schools for the 2018-19 school year

Begins Wednesday, November 1, 2017 at 8am

Ends Tuesday, January 9, 2018 at 5pm

Charter Schools, Montessori Schools have their own application periods – more details below.

There are many things to consider when deciding where you will send your child for school. We are in no way implying that there is anything wrong with attending the school where you are zoned. In fact, like me, I’m sure most of you reading this went to your neighborhood school! However, today there are other options available and we want to help you determine what is best for your child.


All Grades – Find Your Zoned School

This is the elementary, middle, or high school where you are assigned based on your address.

To find out the schools where you are zoned, CLICK HERE. Put in a portion of your street name (I suggest removing the Drive/Lane/Circle/Blvd/Street/etc at the end). Once you select your street and city from the results, it will automatically switch over to ZONE FINDER where you can put in your house number and find a list of all zoned schools, including your Headstart Program, Elementary, Middle, High, Magnet Area, and High School IB Area.

Click here to read the requirements for enrolling your child in a Polk County Public School. If you are enrolling a child in kindergarten for the 2018-2019 school year, the annual Kindergarten Registration will be held in the month of April, exact dates are TBD. Click here to see last year’s instructions.

Elementary & Middle – Magnet/Choice Schools

Magnet/Choice schools are Polk County Public Schools that provide students with special learning themes, such as science, technology, math or the arts, in addition to the standard required curriculum of general education.

These schools require an application during the Open Enrollment period from November 1, 2017 – January 9, 2018. You may only apply for the magnet or choice schools listed for your zoned area.

Schools listed below are in Greater Lakeland Magnet Zone A:

Elementary Schools (K-5)

Lincoln Avenue Academy (STEM & IB Program) (K – 5th grade)
Website / 1330 North Lincoln Avenue, Lakeland, Florida 33805
Direct feeder into Lawton Chiles Middle Academy for grades 6-8.

Winston Academy of Engineering (STEM) (K – 5th grade)
Website / 3415 Swindell Rd, Lakeland, FL 33810
Direct feeder into Lawton Chiles Middle Academy and Crystal Academy of Science and Engineering for grades 6-8.

Combee Academy of Design & Engineering (STEM) (K-5th grade)
Website / 2805 Morgan Combee Road, Lakeland, FL 33801

Elementary & Middle School (K-8)

Blake Academy (STEM) (K – 8th grade)
Website / 510 Hartsell Avenue, Lakeland, FL 33815

Rochelle School of the Arts (Fine Arts) (K – 8th grade)
Website / 1501 Martin L King Jr. Ave Lakeland, FL 33805

Middle School (6-8)

Crystal Academy of Science & Engineering (STEM) (6th – 8th)
Website / 2410 Crystal Lake Drive Lakeland, FL 33801

Lawton Chiles Middle Academy (International Baccalaureate IB) (6th – 8th)
Website / 400 N Florida Avenue Lakeland, FL 33801

Click here to see brochures on each school and get more information.

Do you live outside the Greater Lakeland Magnet Zone (Zone A)? If so, CLICK HERE to read more about the Magnet schools in your Zone. The same application information applies for all Magnet/Choice schools in Polk County.

NOTE: While Blake and Rochelle both have a VPK program, attendance for preschool does not provide any preference for kindergarten enrollment, every application is entered into the lottery system.

Visit the Polk County Schools Magnet/Choice page to verify your Magnet Zone and do any necessary research. Then submit an application at www.PolkEdOptions.com during Open Enrollment:

  • Begins 8am on Wednesday, November 1, 2017
  • Ends at 5pm on Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Editors Note: Magnet schools in Polk County are very popular and only a few spaces per grade are open each year, with the exception of kindergarten when all seats are open. 

Important information to know before applying to a Magnet or Choice School: (Read the full list on the application page)

  • You may only apply for the magnet or choice schools listed for your zoned area (for example: if you live in Lakeland, you can’t apply to attend Bartow Elementary Academy or Union Academy in Bartow). When you get to page 2 of the application, it will list all eligible schools based on the address you enter. Take note – there are some streets with a Lakeland address that are assigned to Zone D (Bartow), there is not a clear dividing line but they seem to be streets at the east end of Clubhouse Road and 540A in South Lakeland. (Use the zoned school finder to find out if you are in Magnet Zone A, B, C or D)
  • You CAN apply to multiple magnet or choice schools within your zone.
  • If you are completing applications for more than one of your children, there is no guarantee that all siblings will be able to attend the magnet or choice school. If a younger sibling is admitted, they WILL NOT put the older child at the top of the waiting list. Preference IS given to younger siblings applying for kindergarten where an older sibling is already enrolled.
  • Your application will be kept on file for the entire academic year to which you are applying. Open seats will be filled by a random selection from that year’s applicant pool.
  • If you are not selected for an open seat, YOU MUST apply again next year. The waiting list does not carry over from year to year.

Middle School – Pre-Academies

Polk Career Pre-Academies are small, personalized learning communities within a middle school. Each pre-academy is focused on a specific area of study where the student should have a genuine interest. Students enter the academy through a voluntary process; they must apply and be accepted with parental knowledge and support.

You can apply for an academy that is NOT located at your zoned school, however priority is given in the order listed under the Important Info tab.

Examples of topics covered in middle AND/OR high school academies: (click a topic to see where they are located)

AgriscienceAerospaceAudio ProductionAutomotiveBiotechnologyBusinessConstructionCriminal JusticeCulinaryDistribution/LogisticsEarly Childhood EducationEducationEngineeringFashionFirefightingGraphic DesignHospitality and TourismInterior DesignITLegalMarketingMedicalPowerRoboticsVideo ProductionVeterinaryWeb Design.

If you prefer to see what is offered at each school, CLICK HERE.

There is an online application process that must be completed during Polk County Schools Open Enrollment.

  • Begins 8am on Wednesday, November 1, 2017
  • Ends at 5pm on Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Important Information to know before completing the application:

  • You may only apply for one middle school pre-academy.
  • Acceptances are based on the following criteria in the following order:
    • Returning students receive first priority for placement. Once all returning students are placed the remaining slots are filled with new applicants.
    • Remaining open slots are filled with new applicants in the following order:
      • In-zone students that have applied through their school course registration process
      • Out-of-zone students that have applied through PolkAcademies.com
    • Final selections are made on a lottery, based on applications received during this open enrollment period
  • Students may be required to meet a set of minimum requirements for the academic year in order to maintain enrollment in the academy.
  • Transportation will not be provided unless the student attends an academy that is hosted by his or her regularly zoned school.
  • Out-of-zone students who leave a career academy must return to their zoned school.

High School – Academies

Polk Career Academies are small, personalized learning communities within a Polk County high school. Each academy is focused on a specific area of study where the student should have a genuine interest. Students enter the academy through a voluntary process; they must apply and be accepted with parental knowledge and support.

A career academy includes the following essential elements:

  • A small learning community supported by a local advisory committee
  • A career theme that includes a college-prep curriculum and lead to industry certification
  • Partnerships with employers, the community, and higher education

You can apply for an academy that is NOT located at your zoned school, however priority is given in the order listed under the Important Info tab.

There is an online application process that must be completed during Polk County Schools Open Enrollment.

  • Begins 8am on Wednesday, November 1, 2017
  • Ends at 5pm on Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Important Information to know before completing the application:

  • You may only apply for one high school academy.
  • Acceptances are based on the following criteria in the following order:
    • Returning students receive first priority for placement. Once all returning students are placed the remaining slots are filled with new applicants.
    • Remaining open slots are filled with new applicants in the following order:
      • In-zone students that have applied through their school course registration process
      • Out-of-zone students that have applied through PolkAcademies.com
    • Final selections are made on a lottery, based on applications received during this open enrollment period
  • Students may be required to meet a set of minimum requirements for the academic year in order to maintain enrollment in the academy.
  • Transportation will not be provided unless the student attends an academy that is hosted by his or her regularly zoned school.
  • Out-of-zone students who leave a career academy must return to their zoned school.
  • Out-of-zone seniors who leave an academy will not be able to remain at the out-of-zone school through the use of a “senior transfer”.

High School – Fine Arts

Founded in 1989, Harrison School for the Arts is Polk County’s only Fine Arts High School.

Harrison offers an arts-education experience in a state-of-the-art facility – newly renovated in 2009. Students can audition and enroll in any one of twelve different artistic disciplines: Chorus, Creative Writing, Dance, Guitar, Jazz, Motion Picture Arts, Musical Theatre, Piano, Orchestra,  Theatre, Technical Theatre, and Visual Arts. Our facilities, coupled with our incredibly gifted faculty, ensure that our current students and future Polk County generations have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential in the arts through premier arts instruction.

Harrison students achieve their general academia through Lakeland Senior High School, online courses, dual enrollment, and Harrison’s Summer Academy.

Harrison School for the Arts has an audition process. Applications will be accepted in the Harrison office beginning on November 6, 2017. Please note that applications for 2018-19 must be received in the Harrison office by January 9, 2018 at 4 p.m.
Students may apply for up to two departments and must submit:

  • Complete Application (must be signed by parent and applicant)
  • Personal resume (with photo attached or embedded)
  • 2 Recommendation Forms (in sealed envelopes with signatures across the back flap)
  • Report Card (most recent) or other grade documentation (i.e. – Parent/Student Portal printout)

Students with a complete application turned in before the deadline are then scheduled for an audition. Auditions are conducted in late January/early February and are closed to observers. Auditioners are then notified in mid-March in regards to their audition results.

Informational Meeting: November 29, 2017 at 7 p.m.

Click here for application information.

High School – International Baccalaureate (IB) 

The International Baccalaureate program is a rigorous high school academic program designed to provide students with the skills and knowledge to be successful in advanced college placement options through high school college credit courses.

Students will not only learn a second language, but also learn to integrate various cultural perspectives and a wider world view into their learning experiences. The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.

(There are also IB programs located at elementary and middle schools, but the regular magnet application process applies. At the elementary and middle school levels, students will participate in interactive academic courses with technology-based science labs and dynamic self-directed projects and classroom activities.)

Haines City High School International Baccalaureate
Website / 2800 Hornet Drive, Haines City, 33844

International Baccalaureate at Bartow High School
Website / 1270 S Broadway Ave, Bartow, 33830

For High School IB Programs, submit an application at www.PolkEdOptions.com during Open Enrollment:

  • Begins 8am on Wednesday, November 1, 2017
  • Ends at 5pm on Tuesday, January 9, 2018

For Elementary and Middle Schools with an IB program, apply through the Magnet/Choice application process.

Eligibility profile for IB at Bartow High School:

  • Middle School GPA of a 3.5 or higher
  • Pass the Algebra 1 high school course and the Algebra 1 End-of-Course state assessment in a classroom setting.
  • Completion of Spanish 1 at a high school level.
  •  Live in the IB @ BHS zone (West Side of Polk County)

After applying for IB, students will take an assessment and be admitted based on their rank score.

Eligibility profile for IB at Haines City High School:

  • Minimum 3.25 Core GPA after 7th Grade (combine GPA for 6th and 7th Grades)
  • Attendance at one of the two informational meetings in November
  • Students must sign up for and complete the admissions exam in January of the 8th grade school year.

Once the scores return all students are ranked and notified of admission or denial.

Visit the WE3 EXPO at The RP Funding Center from November 2 – 4, 2017 to learn about the innovative careers, schools, and programs offered in Polk County Schools, including the programs listed above. Click here to get more details about this event

High School – Collegiate Charter Schools

Charter collegiate high schools provide academic and technical education for serious high school students who desire to undertake college-level study. Students are offered a program of high school and college courses to meet the requirements for a standard Florida high school diploma with the opportunity to take dual-enrolled courses at Polk State College.

Polk Pre-Collegiate Academy (9-10th grades)

5316 Berkley Road, Auburndale, 33823
Website
Polk Pre-Collegiate Academy (PPCA) is a unique 9th and 10th grade Academy of Applied Discovery program where instructors expose learners to innovative experiences and guide them through relevant application and evaluation of those experiences. PPCA students are goal-oriented with aspirations of earning highly-qualified admission status to one of the Polk State College collegiate high schools.

Parent Information Meetings held in January. Interested applicants must attend one of the two meetings. Open Enrollment is March 5-9, 2018. Click here for application information

Polk State College Collegiate High (11-12th grades)

3425 Winter Lake Rd. LAC Bldg., Lakeland, 33803
Website
Polk State Lakeland Collegiate High School is a charter high school housed within Polk State College and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The purpose of the school is to provide academic and technical education for serious high school junior and senior students who desire to undertake college-level study. The two-year curriculum enables students to complete a high school diploma and many of the requirements for an associate degree, simultaneously, in either academic transfer or technical education options.

Students should apply during their Sophomore or Junior year of high school. The lottery application period is January 30 – March 2, 2018 at 4:00 PM.  Informational meetings held in January & February. Click here for application information.

Chain of Lakes Collegiate High (11-12th grades)

999 Avenue H N.E., Winter Haven, 33881
Website
Polk State College Chain of Lakes Collegiate High School is a public charter school that provides highly motivated 11th and 12th grade students from throughout Polk County with a distinctive experience, blending traditional high school with collegiate coursework. The two-year curriculum enables students to complete a high school diploma and many of the requirements for an associate degree, simultaneously, in either academic transfer or technical education options.

Students should apply during their Sophomore or Junior year of high school. The lottery application period is February 1-28, 2018.  Informational meetings held in February. Click here for application information.

Each school has its own application process. Check their websites for details.

Charter – The Schools of McKeel Academy
PreK4 – 12th Grade

The Schools of McKeel Academy are local charter schools that incorporate challenging traditional academics with a focus on technology. Charter schools are independent, state funded public schools. Charter Schools are able to be more innovative, while still being held accountable for improved student achievement. McKeel Schools are tuition-free public schools with certified teachers governed by an independent board of trustees. We comply with the school-average size mandate and the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

McKeel Academy Central (PreK – 6th)

Website / 411 North Florida Avenue, Lakeland, 33801
McKeel Academy Central focuses on a challenging curriculum emphasizing the core foundations of reading, writing and math plus hands-on science and career exploration. Technology is strongly integrated into their program across subject areas. Students have access to electronic devices in their classrooms plus weekly classes in the MAC computer lab.

McKeel Academy Central has a daily physical education program for all students, and a music program that includes weekly music classes and chorus. With a special emphasis on cultural awareness and character education, McKeel Academy Central engages students in community service learning projects that give back to the community.

South McKeel Academy (PreK – 7th)

Website / 2222 Edgewood Drive South, Lakeland, 33815
South McKeel Academy K-5 elementary program incorporates challenging traditional academics with a focus on technology. The 6-7 middle school program has an integrated curriculum with an emphasis on using technology in the classroom. The physical education program provides all students with daily classes. The music program includes weekly classes for K-6 students. In 7th grade, a choice of electives provides students with two classes in Guitar, Criminology, Spanish, TV Production, Art, Engineering, Robotics, Mad Science, Intro to Business/Technology or Aviation.

Career exploration and cultural awareness are included in their programs as well as character education. Giving back to the community is an important cultural component of South McKeel Academy, and students participate in a variety of service learning activities in support of local organizations.

McKeel Academy of Technology (7th – 12th)

Website / 1810 W Parker St, Lakeland, FL 33815
McKeel Academy of Technology provide a rigorous academic program for grades 7-12 with AP and Honors classes and a strong focus on technology with the 1:1 iPad Initiative launched at the start of the 2013-14 school year. Graduation requirements are set higher with 4 years of math and science, 4 years of social studies, and 4 years of language arts, exceeding the state requirements. The academic program requires 12th graders to participate in a senior internship in their chosen career field, and all middle and high school students to participate in job shadowing twice a year. High school students may choose to participate in the Dual-Enrollment Program with Polk State College providing classes on campus.

Career Academies at McKeel Academy of Technology include the Polk County Schools Career Academy “iMedia” specializing in digital graphics and web design with industry certification from Adobe. Other career clusters focus on computer programming, robotics and health science.

Click here to read more about each of the McKeel schools.

Applications for the 2018-2019 school year will be accepted from January 8-19, 2018.  Applications will only be accepted online during that time.

ALL interested students now must reapply to The Schools of McKeel Academy every year. This means that if you were already on the waiting list, you MUST reapply this year (and in future years). All applicants will be entered into a lottery for any available openings before or during the school year, and the wait list will not carry over from year to year. To read more about the Admissions Policies and enrollment preferences, visit the McKeel Enrollment website.

CLICK HERE for more information and an application (the application will not be available until January 8)

Editor’s Note: The Schools of McKeel Academy are very popular and only a few spaces per grade are open each year, with the exception of kindergarten when all seats are open. 

Preschool Enrollment – Both McKeel Central and South McKeel have a VPK program for students who will have turned 4 by September 1 of the upcoming school year. Most preschool students at McKeel attend a full-day program and parents are required to pay the difference in tuition. Note that PreK students do receive enrollment priority for kindergarten, as outlined in the Enrollment PreferencesApplications for the McKeel Preschools are not accepted online. They will become available for download when Open Enrollment starts.

Charter – Montessori Schools
PreK – 8th Grade

The Montessori Method of education, developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, is a child-centered educational approach based on scientific observations of children from birth to adulthood. Dr. Montessori’s Method has been time tested, with over 100 years of success in diverse cultures throughout the world. Components necessary for a program to be considered authentically Montessori include multiage groupings that foster peer learning, uninterrupted blocks of work time, and guided choice of work activity.

Magnolia Montessori Academy (PreK3 – 6th)

Website /1540 New Jersey Rd, Lakeland, 33803
Magnolia Montessori Academy is a free public charter school that opened its doors in August 2013 and was started by a group of like-minded parents who had a wish to provide more Montessori education in a neighborhood setting to more students in Polk County.  We are looking for families to partner with who share our principles and attitudes about education. Children demonstrating the following qualities would be the most likely to succeed in our authentic Montessori environment: self-respect, respect for the environment, respect for others, respect for personal and academic undertakings, personal responsibility, self-motivation, curiosity, and passion for learning.

Admission: Applications for 2018-19 are being accepted Monday, October 2nd, 2017 – Monday, January 8, 2018. Click here for application information.

Magnolia Montessori includes a PreK3 and PreK4 program, and these students receive preference when applying for Kindergarten. However, the wait list does not carry over from year to year so all applicants have an equal chance to be selected for any open seats.  This means that if you have applied for Magnolia Montessori in the past, YOU MUST REAPPLY EACH YEAR!

Lakeland Montessori Schools (PreK3 – 8th)

Website
Lakeland Montessori Schooolhouse –  1124 N. Lake Parker Avenue, Lakeland, 3380
Lakeland Montessori Middle School at Polk Museum of Art – 800 East Palmetto St., Lakeland, 3380
Serving Students Age Three through Eighth Grade as a Tuition free (K-8) Public Charter Montessori Program. It is our mission to facilitate the well-rounded, advanced and challenging authentic Montessori curriculum that instills a sense of wonder and awareness about the universe and the child’s place within that universe. Lakeland Montessorie Schoolhouse also has a tuition based PreK for ages 3-4.

Admission: Preschool Applications are accepted beginning any time after a child’s birth. We encourage families to apply early as there are very few openings after age 3. November 1 is the application deadline for priority consideration for students that will begin their three year old year in August. Students must be age 3 by September 1 to begin attending.

Grade K-6 applications and Grade 7 & 8 Middle School Applications are accepted year round.For the 2018-19 school year, the application period will begin on November 1, 2017. Click here to read more about the application process.

Editor’s Note: Lakeland Montessori Schoolhouse includes a PreK3 and PreK4 (VPK), and your best chance to be admitted is to apply at age 3. Students that attend Lakeland Montessori for PreK4 receive automatic entrance to Kindergarten and are not subject to the waiting list for Kindergarten. The current waiting list for K-8 is more than 1,500 students and does carry over each year, so new applicants are placed at the end of the waiting list. 

Cypress Junction Montessori (PreK3 – 7th)

Website / 220 5th Street SW, Winter Haven, 33880
Cypress Junction Montessori is a quality preschool and free public K-8 charter school in Winter Haven that follows the Montessori Method.  CJM serves students in K–8th grade under the charter as a free public charter school that offers an authentic Montessori education. CJM is also home to a Montessori Preschool for ages 3-4. Preschool offers full & half day options, and accepts the ELC’s School Readiness Funding, & offers scholarships through our Early Learning Scholarship Fund. Cypress Junction Montessori accepts applications from any student eligible to attend a Polk County public school. Our primary focus is to serve families in the Greater Winter Haven area.

Admission: Open Enrollment dates for 2018-19 have not been announced, click here to see application information.

Note that Polk County is home to other Montessori Schools that are considered private schools with tuition and not free charter schools. These are listed in our Directory.

Charter Schools in Polk County

Charter schools are independent, state funded public schools. They are able to be more innovative, while still being held accountable for improved student achievement. They are tuition-free public schools with certified teachers governed by an independent board of trustees. They must comply with the school-average size mandate and the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Charter schools are able to accept applications from anywhere in Polk County, however transportation is not guaranteed and some schools do have a specific residential zone.

Berkley Charter School (PreK-5)

Website / 5240 Berkley Road, Auburndale, 33823
Berkley Charter School is committed to Learning For All, Whatever It Takes! We provide an optimal learning environment that emphasizes research-based effective practices, time on task, and an integrated relevant curriculum. Berkley is a Kagan Cooperative Learning School. Feeds directly into Berkley Accelerated Middle School.
Open Enrollment Week is April 2 – 6, 2018.

Berkley Accelerated Middle School (6-8)

Website / 5316 Berkley Road, Auburndale, 33823
The goal of BAMS is to have all students studying Algebra in grade 8 and reading on at least an 8th grade reading level thus allowing all students to follow whatever path they choose in higher education, college and career planning. Our motto is: “Accelerated Learning for All; Whatever it takes”.
Open enrollment for 2018-19 has not been announced, will likely be in February/March.

Discovery Academy of Lake Alfred (6-8)

Website / 1000 N. Buena Vista Dr., Lake Alfred, 33850
We are a 6-8 public charter school that engages students in an enriched innovative curriculum using various teaching strategies with an emphasis on technology.
Open enrollment likely in January (no information available online yet)

Discovery High School (9-12)

Website / 640 Evenhouse Road, Lake Alfred, 33850
Discovery High School (DHS) is a charter expansion supported by its parent organization, Discovery Academy of Lake Alfred (DALA). Parents asked us for a high school so their children do not need to leave the Discovery system, and this sentiment was our motivation for opening our high school.
Open enrollment likely in January (no information available online yet)

Hartridge Academy (K-5)

Website / 1400 Us Highway 92, Winter Haven, 33881
Hartridge Academy is an elementary school (K-5) with traditional academic subjects, ESE inclusion, single gender class opportunities, gifted program, grade combination classes, and accelerated curriculum classes.
Applications currently being accepted, open enrollment is October 15, 2017- January 15, 2018. Click here for details. 

Ridgeview Global Studies Academy (K-8)

Website / 1000 Dunson Road, Davenport, 33896
In our ever-changing, multicultural world, we will spark the desire in our school family to become responsible and caring decision makers. The global studies strand will be threaded throughout the academic, exploratory and enrichment curriculum. Integrated thematic units will supplement this additional academic program and include cultures, environments and economies, and emphasis on the appreciation of the cultural diversity represented in these studies will provide a core focus.
Open Enrollment dates have not been published. 

Lake Wales Charter Schools (K-12)

Website
The six conversion charter schools in the Lake Wales system are governed by a local Board of Trustees rather than the county-wide District School Board. The schools are Lake Wales High, Bok Academy, a middle school, and four elementary schools: Hillcrest, Janie Howard Wilson, Polk Avenue and Dale R. Fair Babson Park. Majority of these schools became a conversion charter school at the beginning of the 2004-2005 school year with Bok coming in after that.

Each charter school has their own application process and timeframe. Visit their websites for information on the application process.

Middle & High School Alternatives

These schools are designed for students who do not fit the “typical” middle school or high school mold, or who have had behavioral issues and can benefit from a non-traditional school setting.

Polk State Lakeland Gateway to College Charter High School (ages 16-21)

Website / 3425 Winter Lake Rd., LAC Bldg, Lakeland, 33803
Polk State Lakeland Gateway to College Collegiate High School is an exciting new opportunity for area students, typically between the ages of 16 and 21, who have earned 45% of the credits required for high school graduation.  All courses are taught on the Polk State Lakeland campus and offered during morning and afternoon hours, to provide students with maximum flexibility and opportunity for success. Gateway was designed for students who don’t fit the traditional high school mold.

The deadline to apply for 2017-28 has passed. Check their website for current application information

New Beginnings Middle/High School (ages 16-24)

Website
Winter Haven Campus –
3425 Lake Alfred Rd., Winter Haven, FL 33881
Lakeland Campus – 320 W. Main St., Lakeland FL 33815
Fort Meade Campus – 1002 NE 6th Street, Fort Meade, FL 33841
Most of you have a friend, neighbor, or acquaintance who is either having or has had issues in the public high school system. We understand how easy it is to get derailed and off track. With that in mind, we have created an alternative. New Beginnings High School will help get you back on track with our creative and highly motivating, innovative style of learning. We firmly believe our unique teaching techniques allow us to engage and service everyone who attends NBHS. Accepting students up to age 24.

Applications accepted year round. Visit their website for application information.

Compass Charter Middle School (grades 5-8)

Website / 550 E. Clower Street, Bartow, FL 33830
Compass Charter Middle School is designed for any child, in grades 5-8, who feels they are struggling in the regular classroom, is in danger of failing their current grade, or who has been retained in one of their elementary or middle school years.

Any student considered at risk of academic failure may submit an application for admission to Compass Charter Middle School.  At risk is defined by indicators such as State Tests scores, school grades, previous retention, attendance, etc and will determine status.  Students at Bartow Middle School will receive a priority to attend the Compass Middle Charter School.  However, the charter school will be open to any students within the district who qualify based on available seats.

Click here for application information.

Each school has their own application and enrollment process. Click the school website for more details.

Useful Education Links

Private Schools

Looking for information on Private Schools? You’ll find a list in our Directory.

Kindergarten Enrollment

If your child will turn 5 prior to September 1, 2018, he/she is eligible to start kindergarten in fall 2018, meaning you would need to apply DURING OPEN ENROLLMENT if you are interested in a magnet or charter school. Your zoned school will host a Kindergarten Round Up in March or April of 2018, check with your school for details. Click here to read more about enrollment documents.

Florida’s FREE Voluntary PreK Program (VPK)

If your child will turn 4 prior to September 1, 2018, he/she is eligible to participate in Florida’s FREE Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) education program. There are a variety of VPK Providers in Polk County including public schools, charter schools, private schools, and private preschools.

Option to Defer: As of 7/1/16, parents whose children are born from Feb. 2 through Sept. 1 of a calendar year have the option to defer enrolling their child in a VPK program for one year. Get more info in our recent post about VPK.

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