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Magnet Schools

Palm Beach County School of the Arts (SOA), the county’s first magnet school, was founded in 1989 on the former site of North Shore High School in Mangonia Park. Students in grades 7-12 auditioned in one of five areas: communication arts, dance, music, theatre, and visual arts. Those who were accepted often left their homes and returned to them in darkness for the original 7:30 to 4:30 school day, and commutes could be lengthy. Students from the south end of the county traveled in designated compartments on Tri-Rail, while school bus service was available to all other towns, including the western communities.

Across town, Twin Lakes High School moved and became Palm Beach Lakes Community High School; the Twin Lakes buildings were slated for demolition. Instead, after renovations totaling $27.5 million, SOA reopened there in 1997 as Alexander W. Dreyfoos Jr. School of the Arts (DSOA), in recognition of a $1 million donation by the local philanthropist. DSOA offered high school level only, as Bak Middle School of the Arts (grades 6-8) took over the Mangonia Park campus.

DSOA’s campus was originally the site of the Central School, founded in 1908; buildings were added in 1915, 1922, 1949, and 1958. The arts school recently celebrated the 100-year history of the hill schools.

Since the ‘90s, when magnet programs were supported by grants, the School District have has assumed all funding. Palm Beach County currently has 21 elementary schools, 21 middle schools, and 23 high schools under the Department of Choice Programs and School Choice. In 2009 three Choice schools received awards from Magnet Schools of America: Bak Middle School of the Arts, Roosevelt Middle School, and Suncoast Community High School. Suncoast was also named the third best high school in the United States by Newsweek in 2009.

During the 2000-2001 school year, the county’s three vocational schools, with large adult enrollments, were converted to magnet high schools: North Tech in Riviera Beach, renamed Inlet Grove Community High School, South Tech Academy in Boynton Beach, and West Tech High School in Belle Glade.

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