Select Palm Beach County students study biomedical and veterinary technology in elementary school, understand the ins and outs of law in middle school and hone in on their cello performance skills in high school.
They’re the students who apply (and sometimes audition) to be in choice programs within the Palm Beach County School District. The process is set to begin Tuesday for next year.
Across its 180 campuses, 330 different choice programs promise focused instruction by specially trained teachers. This year, eight new choice programs have been added to the mix.
Students cannot just enroll in choice programs. They must apply using the school district’s online tool, and programs are filled by a randomized computer lottery system that chooses from eligible applicants. Some programs require auditions or language fluency exams, and several have GPA requirements for entry.
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The application deadline for certain arts schools, which require an audition, is Dec. 9.
All other applications must be submitted by Jan. 27.
Here’s what to know:
How to apply to Palm Beach County choice school programs
To start the application, which is available online at www.mypbchoiceapp.com, students must have their student ID number and their most up-to-date address. Their address will be used to determine whether they’re in a school’s attendance zone.
There are two types of specialized instruction programs in Palm Beach County: In-house choice programs open only to students who are zoned to attend that school, and choice programs, which are open to all students regardless of where they live.
Auditions are required for consideration in the following programs:
- Bak Middle School of the Arts: All programs
- The Conservatory School at North Palm Beach (grades 6-8): Band and orchestral strings programs
- A.W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts: All programs
- Boynton Beach High School: Dance, digital media, band, vocal, theatre, and visual arts programs
- West Boca Raton High School: Dance, band, vocal and theatre programs
Although each student can submit only one application, they can apply to two programs and rank them in order of interest to increase their chances of being placed in a choice program.
In 2018, more than 36,000 students applied for choice programs. About half of those students were placed in one, although in many cases not in their first choice. At the most selective schools, The Palm Beach Post reported the odds of placement were substantially lower.
The lottery for 2023-24 placements happens in March. Parents will then have to “accept” the seat their student is assigned on the district’s online dashboard.
New choice programs in science, Spanish and civil air patrol
Eight new choice programs represent a variety of science and language opportunities.
At the middle school level, Dwight D. Eisenhower K-8 school is rolling out a sixth grade environmental science and technology class next year. It will feature environmental science based projects, presentations and instruction. It will accept applicants from around the county.
Also starting next year is a new international Spanish academy at Palm Springs Middle, where students will learn about the language, history and culture of Spanish-speaking countries. The dual language program is certified through an agreement with the Ministry of Education in Spain. It will accept applicants from around the county. The program is also available at Okeeheelee Middle.
West Boynton Middle School, the district’s newest middle school, will start pre-information technology and pre-medical sciences programs when it opens in fall. The IT program focuses on computer programming, software and web development. The medical sciences program will teach students about health occupations, medical skills and health-care services.
Both will be in-house programs available to students zoned to attend the new middle school only.
Palm Beach County’s newest high school, located west of Lake Worth Beach, will open next fall with its own slate of choice programs, including an Army JROTC, information technology and pre-medicine. All three are “in-house” programs open only to students zoned to attend the new school.
The school district has not yet determined the boundaries for the new high school.
Finally, Pahokee High will roll out its civil air patrol program, which will expose students to aerospace and STEM-based industries. It will accept applicants from around the county.
Katherine Kokal is a journalist covering education at The Palm Beach Post. You can reach her at [email protected]. Help support our work, subscribe today!