Howe Hall Arts Infused Magnet School Principal Chris Swetckie has a good problem - more families want their children to attend his school than it can handle.

To apply

Applications for Howe Hall Arts Infused Elementary School are available on the school's website,

They must be submitted via mail, postmarked by March 31.

This year's lottery to fill vacant spots will be at 6 p.m. May 22 at the school.

Last year, 530 new students applied to the Berkeley County magnet school that integrates dance, drama, visual arts and more with standards-based instruction in grades K through 5. This year, Swetckie expects about 600.

"It's very flattering that people are this passionate about our school," he said.

The problem is, there are only 55 to 60 spaces left for new students each year.

Priority goes first to current students, followed by siblings, then children of Howe Hall and Marrington Middle School of the Arts employees.

The school board voted unanimously Tuesday to tweak the policy to extend priority to siblings of students who have moved on from Howe Hall to Marrington.

"We don't anticipate the change being significant," Swetckie said. He said it will affect only a handful of families.

Howe Hall does not provide bus service, and Marrington's transportation is limited to students in its attendance zone, so extending the policy is a convenience for families, Superintendent Rodney Thompson said. The schools are four miles apart.

Howe Hall serves a military population, so there's a lot of turnover at the 420-student school, Swetckie said. In addition, some families withdraw children because of a lack of transportation, he said.

"I know that people have put us on a pedestal and we're appreciative of that, but if they don't get in here, they have other great options out there," Swetckie said. "I would honestly send my children to any school in Berkeley County without reservation."

Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or @brindge on Twitter.