Archer hopes magnet draws more students
Published: Wednesday, January 26, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 25, 2005 at 11:15 p.m.
Alachua County school district leaders are hoping a new magnet program will jump-start enrollment at one of the district's rural schools.
Beginning in the fall, Archer Community School will be the home for the county's newest magnet program for gifted and talented students.
"We have capacity there for a program we can build," Deputy Superintendent Sandy Hollinger said. "We are going to have children who are high-achieving with accelerated pacing."
The gifted/talented program at Archer will target third-, fourth- and fifth-graders.
The school will use standardized test scores and teacher recommendations to determine which students are eligible, Archer Principal Leon Henderson said.
The district already offers magnet programs for high-achieving students at Stephen Foster Elementary and Williams Elementary in east Gainesville.
But Henderson said he did not view those programs as competition.
The school is hoping to attract families from Alachua, High Springs, Newberry and southwest Gainesville, he said.
"We're giving those parents a closer option," he said. Archer is about 10 miles southwest of Gainesville.
Kathy Dixon, principal of Williams Elementary said the local supply of high-achieving elementary-aged pupils is enough for each magnet school to thrive.
"Each year we've expanded our program because of the demand," she said.
This year, the Williams program expanded to seven classes, second through fifth grade. About 110 students are enrolled, and the school has a waiting list, she said.
More than 50 students are enrolled in the first-year magnet program for fourth- and fifth- graders at Foster Elementary.
Elementary-school magnet programs appeal to parents of gifted students because they offer full-day classes, Henderson said. In most elementary schools, gifted students receive "pullout" gifted instruction for about an hour a day.
But for some students, an hour a day is not enough of a challenge, he said.
The Archer magnet program will offer advanced instruction in core subjects, Henderson said. The school also will encourage pupils' interest in social studies, science and literature, he said.
Archer parents said they hope the program succeeds in bringing more students to the school.
The enrollment at Archer Community School has dipped to less than 300 students in recent years as many families zoned for Archer have transferred to other schools.
"What we've heard so far sounds good," said Tina Lyons, an Archer resident who said she would consider enrolling her children at the Archer school next year.
"Hopefully, it will bring some recognition to the school."
Douane D. James can be reached at (352) 374-5087 or email@example.com.
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