Hillsborough County School Options: Choice, Magnet, Charter, and Virtual Schools

school appleOne of the biggest considerations for a family when buying a home is considering the school or schools your children might attend.

In Hillsborough County, the public school system (HCSD) has several offerings that extend beyond your assigned school: Magnet Schools, School Choice, Charter Schools, and Virtual School. Let’s take a quick look at each and I’ll explain how the programs work.

What’s my assigned school?

First of all, to figure out what your assigned schools are or will be, just plug in the address of the home you are considering on this website: Hillsborough County School Locator.

Hillsborough Choice: Magnet Schools

Magnet schools offer theme based curricula, specially trained teachers and a smaller learning communities. Themes are in specialty areas of math, science, technology, visual and performing arts and International Baccalaureate. There are 12 elementary, 12 middle and 12 high schools located throughout Hillsborough County.

Students may apply for up to eight programs. All students in Grades K-7 may apply during the enrollment period and are selected by computer lottery. High school students are selected based on a competitive system that takes into account, GPA, standardized test scores and a writing sample. Some high school programs may have additional requirements. Current students must apply with the online application. Students entering kindergarten and new students to HCSD must fill out a paper application.

Transportation is provided however, this may be limited or unavailable in certain areas. Also, all students who live within the two mile walk distance will not receive transportation.

School Choice

Student can also apply to up to three non-magnet schools with available space. These schools offer thematic programs in college prep, career and technical paths. One of the high school options offered allows students to graduate with an Associates Degree as well as a high school diploma. These schools, in addition to core courses, offer additional technical and occupational knowledge as a pathway to post secondary education and careers.

All students K-11 grade may apply for School Choice. Career and Technical Schools have specific criteria for admittance. Application for currently enrolled students must be submitted in the online application. Students entering kindergarten and new students to HCSD must fill out a paper application. All students are selected by computer lottery.

Charter Schools

Charter schools are independent public schools operated as non-profit organizations. Each school has their own board of directors, handle their own finances and hire their own teachers. Teachers must be certified by the Florida Department of Education. Curriculum must meet Next Generation Sunshine State Standards and Common Core. In addition, each school must provide Exceptional Student Education (ESE) services as determined by their Individual Education Plan (IEP). Each charter school has its own enrollment process. You would need to contact the school directly for transportation offerings.

For more information on charter schools, you may contact the Hillsborough County School District’s Charter School Office at (813) 272-4049.

Virtual School

Students are also offered the choice of Hillsborough Virtual School. Elementary school is offered as a full time at home computer based study with a parent as a “learning coach”. Middle and high school offer a variety of options including: full time (considered HCSD student), home school student, co-enrollment and full time Florida Virtual School. You can find additional information at this website or at the Virtual Office at (813) 983-7278.

Helpful Numbers:

Choice Info Line (813) 272-4692

Early Childhood, VPK, HOST (813) 744-8941

Headstart (813) 740-7870

Hillsborough Virtual School (813) 272-4362

Student Nutrition (813) 840-7092

Transportation (813) 982-5500

This post is not intended to endorse any of Hillsborough County’s specific schools or programs. Every family has different educational goals and needs for their children. In a future post, I will highlight some of the private school options in Hillsborough County.

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