For families seeking something different than the education their assigned neighborhood schools provide, options are available from Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS).

The district offers magnet programs and school choice opportunities that provide students a chance to pursue an education that fits their interests and goals.

Magnet schools offer students a chance to focus on a themed education with programs emphasizing arts, business, health, technology and other subject areas.

According to the district’s website, “Magnet schools offer students opportunities to discover, explore and refine their talents and interests while focusing on excellence in academics.”

Robert Cox is the district’s supervisor of magnet programs, and he encourages families to learn more about what is offered.

“We have 42 magnet schools to offer families for the 23-24 school year and they are all recognized nationally for their awards and excellence in educating students. Families can join us on social media on Twitter @SDHCMagnet to get up-to-the-minute info on all of our magnet schools.”

Bus transportation is provided by the district to attend a magnet school.

Many neighborhoods’ middle and high schools offer career and technical education programs that may be accessible to students outside of a school’s attendance zone on a space-available basis. These CTE programs range from information technology to hospitality and tourism. The district website provides an interactive online resource to match student interests with relevant schools. In this case, transportation is not provided by the district to students residing outside of a school’s attendance area.

The current window of opportunity for enrollment in a magnet or other school choice program for the 2023-24 school year is Thursday, October 27 through Friday, December 16. Those are also the dates for applying to attend Hillsborough Virtual K-12 School for the second semester of this school year. Acceptance notification will be made in January 2023.

Last year, 25 schools in the HCPS magnet program received awards of excellence or distinction from Magnet Schools of America, a national organization supporting magnet programs. Among them, Lennard High School and Spoto High School each received a Magnet School of Distinction Award. Both high schools offer collegiate academies that provide a way to earn an associate degree from Hillsborough Community College.

You can learn more about magnet and school choice options by visiting or calling 813-272-4692.

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Brad Stager
Avian-named publications have figured prominently in Brad Stager's career. Besides writing for the Osprey Observer, he started out writing sports articles for the Seahawk, a weekly newspaper serving the military community aboard Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan. That position followed a career documenting life in the Fleet, from the Straits of Magellan to the North Arabian Sea, as a Navy Photographer's Mate. Since settling in the Tampa Bay area, Brad has produced a variety of written, visual and aural content for clients ranging from corporate broadcasters to small businesses.