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Student transfers to stop at LISD

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By LPR Staff

Editor/POST-REGISTER

 

As Lockhart ISD moves closer to the opening of Alma B. Strawn Elementary and the implementation of mandatory attendance zones in the attached map, Superintendent Susan K. Bohn has been forced to consider the District’s current policy on student transfers.

“They could be done on a first-come, first-served basis,

but what we expect is that without a strict policy in place hundreds of parents are going to want to apply for a transfer,” she told the LISD Board of Trustees last week.

Bohn said she understands that parents and children love their elementaries, and that the implementation of attendance zones is going to cause a great deal of upheaval for many families.

By her estimates, when the attendance zones are implemented for the next school year, upwards of 1,200 elementary school students will change campuses.

“There are some things we’re talking about, relating to extenuating circumstances, or children moving in the middle of the school year,” she said. “But if we decide to allow transfers [next year], then it’s going to be burdensome for administration to work through those, and then how do you choose which ones to grant?”

Board Vice President Steve Johnson said he was concerned about the existing policy because it allows parents the opportunity to transfer their child to another campus, as long as they can provide transportation.

“That’s not a level playing field,” he said. “The lower income students could be punished because of the transportation requirement, if their parents don’t have cars, or have to have someone else pick them up to take them to work.”

Bohn reminded the Trustees that the District is working toward curriculum alignment through the elementary levels and helping each campus to perform at the same level. Accomplishing that goal, she said, would reduce the possible argument that parents will choose a higher-performing campus over a lower one.

She did note, however, that she understands that parents and children grow attached to their schools, something she, as an elementary school parent, is sympathetic to.

“Schools get to know their kids, as well,” she said. “And if there is a student that has a special circumstance at their current elementary that the staff and teachers are familiar with, we’re not so big that we can’t talk about students across campus lines.”

Currently, Bohn said the policy she intends to propose will allow for District employees to request transfers, as a “perk of employment,” but that she expects most transfer requests will be denied for the coming school year.

“If we get the requests, I’m sure most of them will be based on the fact that parents love their schools,” she said. “And there is really no fair way to say, ‘we’ll grant this one, but note that one.’”

Bohn did not that her current proposal allows for advancing fourth graders to remain in their current elementary for the fifth-grade year if they choose. Siblings of advancing fourth graders would also be allowed to remain at the same campus for one more year, provided the parents provide transportation. The next year, however, the students would have to attend their zoned elementary.

“Because of that, we are expecting some skew in the fifth grades next year,” she said. “As well as in the lower grades because of the younger siblings. But then the next year, when those younger siblings move to their home schools, those numbers will level out.”

Because it falls to the Trustees to write policy, additional drafts of the proposed policy are expected to be reviewed in the coming months. Trustee Tom Guyton requested to see draft language that would put the decision about transfers solely on the Superintendent. Additionally, language still has to be developed about the grandfathering policy and how those potential transfers will be handled.

The issue is expected to continue to be discussed at great length during board meetings for the rest of this school year.

The Lockhart ISD Board of Trustees routinely meets on the fourth Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the Lockhart Junior High School Library at 500 City Line Rd. The meetings are open to the public and can be viewed at www.lockhartisd.org.

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