Keyword for this page: School Choice or McKay


Welcome to the Office of Magnet, Choice, and Federal Programs! School Choice provides opportunities for developing the potential that lies within the young leaders of tomorrow. This website is a resource which families may use to research the best choice to match the interests of their sons and daughters.

Application Opportunities

Opportunity Scholarships:

Frequently Asked Questions

Opportunity Scholarship transfer applications will be accepted online beginning at 8:00 AM on Tuesday, August 5, 2014 through 5:00 PM on Friday, August 15, 2014. You may access the online application through your Parent Portal account.

Opportunity Scholarships are offered for those students who are assigned to attend a school that has received a grade of F during the 2013-14 school year or its third consecutive grade of D. The Polk County School Board has received notification for the Florida Department of Education that the following schools will offer Opportunity Scholarship transfers for the 2014-2015 school year:

Parent Notification Letters will be mailed on August 4, 2014. If you wish to apply for the Opportunity Scholarship Transfer School designated in your letter, please click on the Opportunity Scholarship link in your Parent Portal Account.

If you have not received a Parent Notification Letter, and your student is assigned to attend one of the above schools for the 2014-15 school year, you may complete an Opportunity Scholarship Transfer application through Parent Portal. A review of your application will be completed in order to determine the school your student is eligible to transfer to through the Opportunity Scholarship Program.

Magnet & Choice Schools:

Open Enrollment has now closed for the 2014-2015 School Year. Notification will be mailed or emailed to all applicants in April 2014.

Applications are accepted each year for Magnet and Choice Schools during an Open Enrollment period. The application window is typically held beginning mid-January through mid-February. The next Open Enrollment dates will be posted here once determined.


International Baccalaureate (IB):

IB Applications for Bartow High School IB and Haines City High School IB are accepted in November of each year. The application window for acceptance into the IB high schools for the 2014-2015 school year has closed.

Applications must be submitted online through Parent Portal during the application window. No paper applications will be accepted.

If you have any questions about completing an online application, please contact the Office of Magnet, Choice and Federal Programs at (863) 534-0631.

If you have any questions regarding the IB programs at either Bartow High School (863-534-7400) or Haines City High School (863-419-3371), please contact the respective high school.

Bartow High School IB Program:

Students zoned for the following high schools are eligible to attend the Bartow High IB Program: Bartow High, Kathleen High, Lakeland High, George Jenkins High, Mulberry High, Fort Meade High, Frostproof High and those living in the former attendance zone for Lake Wales High.

Haines City School IB Program:

Students zoned for the following high schools are eligible to attend the Haines City High IB Program: Haines City High, Ridge Community High, Lake Region High, Winter Haven High, Auburndale High, Tenoroc High, and Lake Gibson High.

Other Choice Options:

Charter Schools

Please contact the charter schools directly for information as to open enrollment periods.

Charter School List


Career Academies

Application and Information


McKay Scholarships:

McKay Brochure-Click Here

Filing for the 2014-15 School Year
Intents filed after January 31, 2014, will be for the 2014-15 school year. These students must be enrolled in a participating private school by August 2, 2014, in order to be eligible for a first quarter scholarship payment on September 1, 2014.
Enrollment in the current school year with a 2014-15 Intent
Although an upcoming 2014-15 student is not eligible for payment during the current school year, a parent with a valid intent for 2014-15 may choose to enroll an eligible student in a participating private school for the remainder of the 2013-14 school year at his or her own expense. Of course, parents also have the option of keeping the student in public school for the rest of the current school year.

To file an intent for a Public School McKay Scholarship, complete the following two steps:

  1. Step One- 2014-15: Download the Letter of Intent. Print the file and mail to address on form.
  2. Step Two-Click Here to apply with the Florida Department of Education

To file an intent for a Private School McKay Scholarship, Click Here.

McKay information in other languages:

Corporate Tax Credit Scholarships:

The Florida School Choice website offers information on the state wide voucher programs. These include:

  • Opportunity Scholarships
  • McKay Scholarships
  • Florida Tax Credit Scholarships

Florida School Choice Website


Magnet & Choice Schools

Definition of Magnet and Choice Schools:

A distinctive theme and/or other program feature characterize Magnet and Choice schools. Magnet and Choice schools are schools of choice that provide the standard required curriculum of general education to students while using special learning themes, such as science and technology. These themes serve to attract students to the schools.

More Information

Revised Magnet and Choice Student Assignment

Acceptance, Waiting List and Applicant Pool FAQs

  •  I am already on a waiting list, what now?
    • If a student is already on a waiting list they will receive a letter in the mail with the waiting list number.  Students will remain on lists annually and do not need to reapply.
  • I applied in January of 2011 but did not get a waiting list letter?
    • New applications received January of 2011 will not receive a waiting list letter.  They will be notified via a connect ed message to the phone number they provided on their application confirming that the new application was received and the student is in the applicant pool. It is your responsibility to update your phone number.
  • How long can my application be on file in the applicant pool?
    • The applicant pool is kept for one school year.  If students are not accepted from the pool that year, they must reapply the following January.
  • How are students accepted?
    • Students are selected for vacant seats in the following order:
      • students are taken in sequential order from established waiting list
      • when there is no waiting list, students are randomly selected from the applicant pool
  • I have moved or changed my contact number, what should I do?
    • Notify the Office of Magnet, Choice and Charter Schools at 534-0631 of your new address or contact number.
  • Why should I apply if there is already an existing waiting list?
    • When vacant seats occur, students will be taken from the waiting list order. When a waiting list has been used up, then students will be randomly accepted from the applicant pool.
    • The amount of children on waiting lists varies by grade and school.
    • Only minimal vacancies occur when students move out of zone or elect not to return to the school

Interdistrict Transfers

Interdistrict transfers are traditional transfers for students seeking to transfer into Polk County from a neighboring district or want to attend school in another county. These transfers are evaluated in the Pupil Accounting office. The link below provides more information on transfers.

More information

The links below provide information on: out of district transfers from Osceola and Hillsborough County.

Hillsborough County Information

Osceola County Information

Magnet School Assistance Program Grant

The Polk County School Board was awarded the 2013 Magnet School Assistance Program (MSAP) Grant on October 1, 2013. This grant includes five schools and one demonstration school:

  • Lincoln Avenue Academy (A Lakeland magnet school that will be revised to apply for an International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program infused with STEM)
  • Winston Academy of Engineering (A Lakeland elementary school that will become a magnet school focused on STEM-Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, with a special emphasis on Engineering)
  • Jewett School of the Arts (A Winter Haven choice school that will become a magnet school focused on STEAM-Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics, with a special emphasis on the Arts)
  • Dundee Elementary Academy (A Dundee elementary school that will become a Kg-4th grade magnet school seeking International Baccalaureate authorization in the Primary Years Program infused with STEM)
  • Dundee Ridge Middle Academy (A Dundee middle school that will become a 5-8th grade magnet school seeking International Baccalaureate authorization in the Middle Years Program infused with STEM)
  • Lawton Chiles Middle Academy (A Lakeland magnet school as the demonstration school for the IB and STEM programs included in this grant)

To view the Application Submitted, please click the below links:

Contact Information

Office of Magnet, Choice, and Federal Programs

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 391
Bartow, FL 33831-0391

Contact our office by email

Staff Listing

Name: Title:
Carolyn Bridges Senior Director
Carla McMullen Senior Coordinator of Operations & Evaluation
Sylvia Williams Student Assignment Specialist
Janet Cameron Student Data Entry Clerk
Carol Harrell Senior Director's Secretary
Angelita Medina Accounting Specialist II
Heather Lanham Magnet Resource Teacher of Professional Development and Academic
Mijana Lockard STEM/STEAM Magnet Resource Teacher