Magnet School Lottery/Admissions Update (March 16)

Due to the school district closure in response to the COVID-19 emergency, certain district personnel and school personnel who would normally help facilitate the magnet school acceptance and registration process are not available.

If your child was offered a space at a magnet school next year and you have already used the magnet school notification system to respond to that offer, thank you.  Please be aware that the Magnet School will NOT reach out to you within 2 - 4 weeks as originally promised, but will do so as soon as possible once school is back in session.

If you have not received notification about your application status, have questions, or are having issues accessing or using the Magnet Notification System, please know that we have EXTENDED our response deadline.  If we do not have a response from you when school is back in session, we will reach out and contact you by phone.  NO STUDENT WHO HAS BEEN OFFERED A SPACE AT A MAGNET SCHOOL WILL LOSE THAT SPACE UNLESS THAT STUDENT'S PARENT/GUARDIAN HAS EXPLICITLY REJECTED THE OFFER FOR ADMISSION.

We apologize for any inconvenience or concern that this school shutdown  is causing and we look forward to working with all our new and returning magnet school families when school is back in session.


In the late afternoon on Wednesday, March 11th, the results of the magnet school lottery for 2020-2021 were sent by email to the parent/guardian of each magnet school applicant.  If you are the parent/guardian of an applicant please check the email account you used in your student's application.  If you don't find an email message from Vista USD Student Support Services, please check your spam and junk folders to make sure the message did not end up there.

Please follow the instructions you find in the email message.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact VUSD Student Support Services at (760) 726-2170, ext. 92180.


Magnet Programs

​Magnet Schools Overview

The Vista Unified magnet school programs were designed to both inspire and challenge students to engage in learning environments that are focused on unique pathways aligned to the growing demands of an increasingly complex global society and workforce economy. Please use this website to explore the options and follow our collective efforts to make the magnet school experience world-class.

Magnet School Purpose
Magnet schools are visionary, innovative and are free and open to anyone. Due to high demand, most schools determine student acceptance by a lottery system. The idea of magnet schools began in 1971, and in 1975, the term “magnet” had caught on so well in four short years the federal government was using the term. Today, magnet schools have emerged as educational beacons in communities, incorporating themed curricula, hands-on, experiential learning, and a diverse tapestry of students and academic requirements that often exceed those of the school district or state. Source:  Magnet Schools of America

Magnet School Historical Overview
The creation of magnet schools in Vista Unified was first conceptualized about 30 years ago, with the intent of complying with California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Chapter 7 to "alleviate the racial and ethnic segregation." To this end, the Vista School Board of Trustees directed the creation of an Elementary Attendance Area Committee on February 14, 1991. This committee was responsible for the creation of the first two magnet schools in the district (VAPA and Casita) through the design of the Voluntary Integration Plan. These two magnet schools were officially approved by the Board on August 15, 1991 and held their first classes in 1992-93. In the years since its inception, the magnet school program has grown slowly, converting Lincoln Middle into Vista Magnet Middle School in 2007, Mission Vista High School in 2009, and Washington Middle School into Vista Innovation & Design Academy in August 2014. Today, more than 4,000 students attend magnet schools in Vista Unified. Click HERE to view a detailed archive of the magnet school development process. 

We Want Your Feedback

Magnet School Steering Committee

The Magnet School Steering Committee is designed to be used as a formal venue to promote program enhancements, ensure equitable access for all students, gather data on program impact, and provide feedback to the Superintendent and School Board on magnet school support and continuous improvement.

Mission and Desired Outcomes

Committee Charter Details

  • Mission: Promotion of magnet school programs with equitable access for all students
  • Authority: Advisory to Superintendent and School Board
  • Responsibilities: TBD
  • Composition: The committee is comprised of students, parents, teachers, administrators.  

Frequency: Quarterly

  • May 7, 2019
  • June 13, 2019
  • September 19, 2019
  • October 24, 2019
  • December 19, 2019
  • March 19, 2020
  • June 11, 2020

Location: Vista Innovation Center, Conference Center

Committee Agenda Structure

  • Status of Magnet Schools (Lightning Round)
    • Each school sends a rep (principal, teacher, other) to provide a brief update on the highlights of the program over the past three months.
  • Topic Focus
    • Building Equity
    • Promoting to All
    • Tracking Impact
    • Pathways
  • Feedback
  • Talking Points
  • Sprint Teams


  • Practice empathy
  • Centered on VUSD Framework for the Future
  • Focus on students
  • Mutual commitment to outcomes
  • Actively participate in person
  • Seek first to understand
  • Work collaboratively to identify solution options
Magnet Schools Application / Solicitud de Escuelas Magnet2020 Admissions Procedure / Procedimientos de Admisión 20202020 FAQs / Preguntas Frequentes 2020

Magnet School Descriptions

Elementary School Magnets
Casita Center Magnet School
Vista Academy of Visual and Performing Arts

Middle School Magnets
Vista Innovation and Design AcademyVista Magnet Middle School

High School Magnet
Mission Vista High School
Magnet School Steering Committee Report to the Superintendent and School Board

The Magnet School Steering Committee met four times between May and December 2019. The committee also held a community forum to gather feedback on the program, which is progressing according to the timeline. The co-chairs of the Magnet School Committee (Julie Kelly and Sam Stavis) delivered a series of findings and recommendations to the Superintendent at the November 14, 2019 School Board meeting. The key takeaways are that the magnets are inclusive, that they have a positive fiscal impact for the district, and that improving communication among all parents in the district about the magnet schools and the application process is critical. Please click HERE (Español) to view the full presentation, and click HERE to access data reports that contributed to the committee’s recommendations.

As the January school application window approached, the committee held its second Magnet School Community Forum on December 19, 2019. During these forums, we beta tested a streamlined magnet school application, and helped plan application forums at high impact schools throughout Vista Unified in an effort to ensure that all students have access to apply to the magnet schools. We also discussed some adjustments to the magnet program, including the closing of magnet school transfers after Labor Day, the expansion of classrooms at Casita and VAPA, and the process for filling slots at the magnet schools as they come available during the school year due to students moving away.