What is a person, a place, an object or a situation that exerts attraction? The Oxford dictionary defines it as a MAGNET. Theresa Wardle, a licensed clinical social worker and resident of Naples, spoke to the Rotary Club on February 22nd about the School Board's recent approval of Phase 1 of a program to bring a magnet school to Naples Elementary. 

Nationally, magnet schools are part of the public school system and have been in existence since the 1970s.  They provide the standard required curriculum of general education while using special learning themes such as arts, humanities, science, math and technology to attract students. Wardle discussed outcomes of the several visits by Naples staff members to the Sorenson Magnet School of the Arts and Humanities in Coeur d'Alene, one of 7 magnet schools in that area.  She described the difference between magnet and charter schools and addressed issues of concern raised by the general public including the fact that there is no cost to attend and there are no admission standards to attend. Selection criteria were reviewed if there is a waiting list.

Wardle discussed several advantages to being a magnet school. Enrollment in Boundary County School District is less than it was last year because families are relocating from the county because of the economy. Magnet schools are a viable alternative for increasing monetary resources for the district by increasing enrollment through attracting home school, virtual academy and out of district students. In addition, research has shown magnet schools increase student motivation, improve student grades and test scores, provide greater teacher satisfaction, promote innovative curriculum, increase parent and community involvement, and contribute to higher attendance rates and lower drop out rates.

Tentative plans for Naples Elementary School is to offer special classes for one hour each week using H.A.T. as the theme for these classes -- Humanities, Arts and Technology.  Theresa also mentioned that if Naples is successful, perhaps this concept could expand to Mt. Hall Elementary (Agriculture), and with if there was a continuous waiting list of students, Evergreen could also reopen as a magnet school.

The School Board requested that the program be reviewed again at the end of May or early June.