Magnet registration and lottery

The district’s magnet schools are Albany School of Humanities (ASH), Montessori Magnet School and Thomas O’Brien Academy of Science and Technology (TOAST). The district also offers a themed bilingual education program at Delaware Community School, the Dual Language Program. All are enrolled by a lottery and open to children throughout the city.

A magnet school or program focuses instruction on a particular theme and incorporates that theme across all subject areas. Each magnet school or program is open to children citywide and enrolled by two random lotteries: one for prekindergarteners and one for older students.

Student selection in the lottery is random, but certain factors take priority when determining where children will be placed:

  • Sibling preference -- 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." Students with sibling preference are drawn first in the 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 2019-20. Sibling preference will not apply if your child currently in the magnet school or program moves up to middle school in 2019-20. 

  • Neighborhood preference -- 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." Students with neighborhood preference are drawn second in the magnet lottery. Neighborhood preference works only if your first-choice magnet school or program is located within a half-mile from your home.

  • Number of applicants versus number of seats -- 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 (see above). This can affect your child's chance of being assigned to your first-choice program. 

  • Sibling linking -- You can choose how you want the district to process a lottery application for two or more siblings (twins, triplets 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 of 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 not 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 or waiting list for the next available seat.

  • Special education -- Placement of students who receive special-education services, including placement in integrated classrooms, must be determined by the Committee on Special Education since students with Individual Education Plans (IEPs) are placed into appropriate programs based on the committee's recommendations.

Students entered in the lotteries who do not receive a seat are placed in a waiting pool or waiting list, depending on the program. 

You also can call the Magnet School Office at (518) 475-6551 or Central Registration at (518) 475-6125 if you have questions or would like additional information.

Once seats are assigned through the magnet elementary lottery, the City School District of Albany mails families one of three letters: an acceptance letter, a waiting-list letter or a waiting-pool letter.

If you receive an acceptance letter

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, his or her spot will be given to another child. Our Central Registration Office is located at 75 Watervliet Ave.                                                   

If you receive a waiting-pool or waiting-list letter  

If 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. Families will receive a waiting-list number and be offered the opportunity to choose another school that has available seats. 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 deadline. 

Have questions, comments or concerns about the magnet lottery process? Please contact: