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School Board adopts policy on non-resident attendance

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By Bill Short

Dr. David Roper

Dr. David Roper

The Millington School Board unanimously adopted a two-part policy this week regarding the enrollment and transfer of students in the municipal school system.
Board members took the action Monday night during a special called meeting on a motion offered by Louise Kennon and seconded by Don Holsinger.
The policy was proposed by Dr. David Roper, the city’s first school superintendent.
It defines “in-district” students as those who live either inside the Millington corporate limits or within the city’s Reserve Annexation Area. “Out-of-district” students are those who live outside of not just the city limits, but also outside the Reserve area.
Tennessee law requires each school district to adopt an Open Enrollment Policy. It involves in-district students who want to attend a school other than the one to which they would normally be assigned.
Roper said that part of the policy applies only to in-district students who attend either the E. A. Harrold or Millington Elementary schools, because there is just one middle and high school in the city.
The policy states that, with the superintendent’s approval, an in-district student can transfer to the other elementary school. Roper will consider the physical space available, program offerings and the staffing level established according to the school district’s budget and “staffing model.”
Students who are children of teachers employed by the district will have priority to attend the schools where their parents or guardians are assigned. But if they are approved for an in-district transfer, the parents or guardians must provide transportation to and from the school.
Those students will be expected to remain in that school for the duration of the academic year, and they can stay there through the “exit grade.”
The second part of the policy states that out-of-district students can submit an application to enroll in the district no later than 15 days prior to the first day of the school year. Those who submit applications after that deadline will not be enrolled without approval of the district where they live.
Roper can approve the transfer if there is “available capacity” and if the student has earned passing grades in all core academic subjects during the school year immediately preceding the requested transfer year, has not been absent more than 15 days in a semester or expelled for more than 10 consecutive days.
The policy defines the “core academic subjects” as English/language arts, mathematics, science and social studies.
In approving the transfers, Roper will give first priority to the children of teachers employed by the district. Second priority will be given to students currently enrolled in one of the district’s four schools or their siblings.
The policy defines a “sibling” as a brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, half-brother, half-sister or foster child who lives in the same household as the student.
The third priority will be given to students who live outside the district, and neither they nor their siblings are currently enrolled in one of the four schools.
Students approved for an out-of-district transfer will not be required to pay tuition. But they, their parents or guardians must provide transportation to and from the school.
During discussion shortly before the vote, Roper acknowledged that he briefly considered the possibility of charging out-of-district students a “minimal tuition.” But because the school system will not be able to provide them transportation, he decided that a tuition payment would “create a hardship” on their parents.
In response to a question by Holsinger, Roper said not providing transportation for out-of-district students is “primarily a municipal funding issue.” He noted that the state provides “bus funding” for in-district students who live 1.5 miles or more from the school they attend.
The superintendent said he is in the process of preparing the application forms that will be sent from the schools to the households of the students currently enrolled at them.
Parents will be required to complete a separate form for each student and indicate the school where they want their child to be enrolled for the 2014-15 academic year. They must also give their consent for release of the child’s school records.
Roper said separate sections of the form will be designated for in-district and out-of-district students who are not currently enrolled at one of Millington’s four schools.
Parents within the district will have to indicate “intent for enrollment,” while those outside the district must also request an “out-of-district transfer.”
Roper said he has scheduled a “community meeting” at 6 p.m. on Feb. 20 in Lucy Baptist Church to speak to the parents of those students regarding the transfer process.
While acknowledging that the board has heard from many residents about the “transportation issue,” Chairman Greg Ritter said it does not take their concerns “lightly.”
“We’re still working,” he noted. “But we need to do things to move this process forward, because our goal is to open this fall. And we’ve got to do what we think is best for all the students to make that happen.”

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