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Hundreds apply to Davis magnet school

School board hopes to announce principal for math- and science-focused school at March 24 meeting.

March 16, 2009|By Alan Blank

The new math- and science-focused magnet school that will take the place of the fourth-through-sixth-grade Davis Elementary in Costa Mesa is a hot ticket among Newport Beach and Costa Mesa parents, with moms and dads from every elementary school in the district trying to get their kids in the door.

Although enrollment just opened for this fall’s inaugural class, about 700 parents have called or e-mailed the school requesting that their children be admitted. In its present form, the school serves 365 students.

“I would say that [the school] is drawing mostly from Paularino, College Park and Sonora, but [the applications] are coming in district wide and the numbers that I’ve been given say that every single school in the district is represented,” said district spokeswoman Laura Boss.

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The response has been so heavy that a waiting list has already formed with more than 50 kids on it. That’s in addition to the 121 current Davis students and 500 new prospective students from around the Newport-Mesa Unified School District who have been given the green light to register in the upcoming weeks.

The Board of Education voted 6-1 in January for a math and science magnet school instead of a creative, visual and performing arts magnet school with only board member Michael Collier voting for the arts option.

“People like the concept of a magnet school. I think they also want their children to go to a school that emphasizes science and math,” Collier said.

District officials also say they have selected a principal whom they hope to confirm and announce to the public at the next board meeting March 24. That principal will then be charged with finding a staff of capable teachers for the school before it opens up six months later.

The number of teachers who will be needed is still unknown, Boss said.

But with a likely increase of enrollment of roughly 300 students — the district is projecting enrolling a total of about 621 students — officials will need to find some way to deal with the demand.

Given the popularity of the district’s first magnet school and data from other areas suggesting the desirability of schools specializing in a particular discipline, Collier wants to see the district establish magnets for middle school and high school students next.


Reporter ALAN BLANK may be reached at (714) 966-4623 or at alan.blank@latimes.com.

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