Sustainability Academy at Lawrence Barnes Home Page

What is a Magnet School?

According to the United States Department of Education, magnet refers to a public elementary or secondary school or program that has one of three goals as its focus:
  • It is designed to attract students from diverse social, economic, ethnic, and racial backgrounds.
  • It aims to create an academic focus or social focus on a chosen theme
  • It aims to do both of the above simultaneously 
A magnet school has the same governance structure as any other public school and the same tuition (i.e., none).  It follows the same laws and regulations, and its teachers, administrators and other staff are required to have state certification.  Magnet schools focus on a specific subject, such as science or the arts or follow specific themes, such as business/technology or communications/humanities/law.  Some magnet schools require students to take an exam or demonstrate knowledge or skill in the specialty area to qualify to go to the school, while others are open to any student who expresses an interest in that area.

How is a Magnet School different from a Traditional Public School?

One of the main differences is that magnet schools are schools of choice.  While magnet schools tend to be designed to attract students from diverse social, economic, ethnic, and racial backgrounds, traditional public schools tend not to have this as an over-riding design element.  In addition, magnet schools tend to have an academic focus or social focus on a chosen theme, while traditional public schools do not.

Who can attend Burlington's Magnet Schools?

Anyone who lives in the Burlington School District may attend the magnet schools.  Depending on space availability, students living outside the Burlington School District may apply and, if accepted, choose to pay tuition to attend either magnet school.

How does the application process work?

Information about registering for any of our elementary schools can be found here.  For students already enrolled in any of the Burlington elementary schools one simply needs to complete this magnet school application and mail or bring it in to any of our schools or to our Central Office at 150 Colchester Ave, Burlington, VT 05401.

What are the Magnet School choices in Burlington?

In Burlington, students have two choices of magnet schools: the Integrated Arts Academy at H.O. Wheeler (IAA) and the Sustainability Academy at Lawrence Barnes (SA). 

At IAA, students learn through the lens of the four art forms: movement, drama, music and visual arts.  More information cana be found at 

At SA, students learn through the lens of sustainability - by exploring our diverse society, our local economy and the environment through hands-on projects. More information can be found at

What research is there about Magnet Schools?

During the planning stages of creating our magnet schools, we gathered the following research around this question.

Other useful links include this one from the US Dept. of Education titled: Work with Parents & the Community - Innovations in Education: Creating Successful Magnet School Programs.

Click here for an article about magnet schools in

Another useful link is this site for Magnet Schools of America.