Magnet programs and lottery
A magnet school or program focuses instruction on a particular theme and incorporates that theme across all subject areas. All are enrolled by lottery and open to children throughout the city.
Admission to Albany’s magnet schools and program is done through two random lotteries – one for students who will enter prekindergarten in September of the following school year, and one for students who will enter kindergarten through grade 5 or 6, depending on the school, in September of the following school year.
Our magnet choices
The City School District of Albany offers three themed elementary schools – Albany School of Humanities (ASH), Montessori Magnet School and Thomas O’Brien Academy of Science and Technology (TOAST) – and one themed program, the Dual Language Program.
ASH strives to educate all students to be life-long learners, capable decision-makers and contributors to their local and global communities.
ASH views education through a humanities lens, meaning students learn through lessons in art, music, theater and visual arts. This focus is incorporated daily into all subject areas.
In addition to art and music, ASH learners also participate in weekly theater arts and creative movement activities. Our environment fosters a sense of self, with students and staff participating in school-wide mindful moments, community-service projects and Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) events.
Prepare your child for today’s multilingual, globalized world by giving him or her the gift of fluency in two languages. The Dual Language Program at Edmund J. O'Neal School of Excellence offers an elementary education in English and Spanish from prekindergarten-grade 5. The program features one bilingual class for each grade, and each class is composed of children whose main language is either English or Spanish.
The magnet lottery for the Dual Language Program is open to:
- Children whose main language is English: those who will enter kindergarten or grade 1 in September of the following school year.
- Children whose main language is Spanish: those who will enter kindergarten-grade 5 in September of the following school year.
The Montessori philosophy on education gives equal value to the teacher and student. Our work focuses on the use of the five senses, hands-on learning and developing within students the ability to self-regulate while taking ownership of their own learning. The triangle of true learning is evident between the child, the teacher and the environment.
The school’s curriculum is carefully structured to demonstrate connections among the different core subjects of English, math, science and social studies.
At TOAST, learning involves curiosity, observation, problem-solving, inquiry, creativity and discovery, allowing students to build their own understanding of the world and how its parts fit together.
The school’s STEAM theme – science, technology, engineering, arts and math – is reinforced with specialized instruction in the state-of-the-art computer lab, the dedicated science room and an outdoor pavilion and geologic rock park.
Hands-on learning and community collaborations actively involve children in acquiring the skills, knowledge and attitudes required to succeed in high school, college and beyond.
Important information to consider
How you decide your first, second, third and fourth choices may be affected by the location of the program or school, whether you have other school-age children, whether additional child care is offered and other personal preferences. However, certain other factors go into play in the lottery that will influence your child’s eventual assignment.
The names of children with a sibling preference are drawn first in the lottery. The names of those with neighborhood preference are drawn second in the lottery. All other names are drawn for remaining seats.
A child with a brother or sister already in a magnet school or program will have a better chance of getting into that school or program. This is called “sibling preference.” Children with sibling preference are drawn first in the magnet lottery. Sibling preference works only if your first-choice program is located at the elementary school your other child currently attends AND will attend in the following school year. Sibling preference will not apply if your child currently in the magnet school or program moves up to middle school in the following school year.
A child who lives within a half-mile of a magnet school or program will have a better chance of getting into that magnet school or program. This is called “neighborhood preference.” Children with neighborhood preference are drawn second in the magnet lottery. Neighborhood preference works only if your first-choice magnet school or program is located a half-mile from your home.
Some programs are in greater demand than others, meaning more families apply to those programs. Also, these limited seats often fill quickly with students who have sibling or neighborhood preference. This can affect your child’s chance of being assigned to your first-choice program.
You can view the most recent number of available seats in this Google Sheet.
You can choose how you want the district to process the lottery applications for two or more siblings (twins, triplets, etc., or children of different ages).
You have two options:
- Link your children’s applications and have them move through the lottery process together; your children with linked applications will be assigned to a particular school or program only if they all receive spots. If a school or program does not have enough room for all your children, then none of them will be assigned there.
- Do not link your children’s applications together. Your children’s applications will move through the lottery process separately, which could result in them being assigned to different schools or programs. If you opt to not link your children’s applications, you can accept a spot in the school or program one of your children gets into, and your other child’s or children’s application(s) will have sibling preference in the waiting pool for the next available seat.
Applying for the lottery
Complete the application linked at the top of this page. Please print legibly so that all information can be entered accurately. Review your application carefully to make sure the information is accurate.
Mail or hand-deliver your application to:
City School District of Albany
Magnet Schools Office
1 Academy Park
Albany, NY 12207
- To be eligible for a spot in a magnet school or program through the magnet lottery, your child must be at least 5 years old by Dec. 1 of the following school year
- To be considered siblings, children must share at least one parent
- ONLY City of Albany residents can participate in our magnet programs
- Special Education placements are determined by the Special Education Department. Availability of programs varies at each school
Applying outside the lottery window
Although we encourage families to enter the annual magnet lottery in January for the best chance of securing a seat for September of the upcoming school year, we accept magnet applications year-round.
Depending on the program, applications received outside the annual lottery window are entered into an ongoing series of monthly lotteries or a waiting list based on when they are submitted.
For ASH, Montessori and TOAST, applications received outside the primary lottery window will be entered into an ongoing series of monthly lotteries..
For the Dual Language Program applications received outside the primary lottery window are placed at the end of a waiting list in the order they are received. Please note that sibling and/or neighborhood preference do not apply to Dual Language applicants on the waiting list.
After the lottery
Once lottery seats are assigned, the district will mail you one of two letters: an acceptance letter or a waiting-pool letter. This notification will also be sent to the email address you provide on the application.
If your child is selected in the lottery, you will receive an acceptance letter. You must register your child by the deadline indicated in the letter. If you do not register your child by the deadline, his or her spot will be given to another child. Our Central Registration Office is located at 75 Watervliet Ave.
f you applied for but were not assigned a spot at Albany School of Humanities (ASH), Montessori Magnet School or Thomas O’Brien Academy of Science and Technology (TOAST), you will receive a waiting-pool letter. That means your child’s name will be placed in a waiting pool and be eligible for monthly drawings through December based on available seats. This process allows families to enroll in another district school and still have a chance of getting a spot in a magnet school. The waiting pool is “weighted,” meaning that students with a sibling and/or neighborhood preference will have priority over other students. All other students will be weighted equally regardless of when they apply throughout the year. Again, a monthly lottery will select students from the waiting pool every month through December.
If you applied for but were not assigned a spot in the Dual Language Program, you will receive a waiting-list letter. That means your child’s name will be put on a waiting list that is created after the lottery. Also, applications received after the deadline will be placed at the end of the waiting list in the order they are received. There will not be sibling or neighborhood preference consideration for Dual Language applications received after the lottery deadline.
Frequently asked questions
Below are commonly asked questions about the magnet lottery process. If you have futher questions, please feel free to contac the Magnet Office at (518) 475-6551.
Beginning in kindergarten, your child will be eligible for yellow bus transportation if your home is 1.5 miles or more from the school. This does NOT apply to children in prekindergarten.
You can choose how you want the district to process the lottery applications for two or more siblings (twins, triplets, etc., or children of different ages). You have two options:
- Link your children’s applications and have them move through the lottery process together. Your children with linked applications will be assigned to a particular school or program only if they all receive spots. If a school or program does not have enough room for all your children, then none of them will be assigned there.
- Do not link your children’s applications together. Your children’s applications will move through the lottery process separately, which could result in them being assigned to different schools or programs.
Once you accept and register for a seat for the first child, the child in the waiting pool will have sibling preference.
Your chances of getting your first choice depend on a number of factors:
- The number of seats available at the school or program versus how many families select that program as a first choice
- The number of first-choice applicants that have sibling preference at that school or program
- The number of first-choice applicants that have neighborhood preference at that school or program
Sibling preference and neighborhood preference only apply to your first choice. They do not apply to your second or subsequent choices.
Yes. If your child did not get into any of the magnet schools you selected, your child will be placed in a waiting pool for all of your choices. If you get into a magnet school that is not your first choice, you can remain in the waiting pool for your first-choice school.
For information about the lottery, contact Kahla Kuchta at email@example.com or (518) 475-6551. For information about registering your child, contact Central Registration at (518) 475-6125.