05/31/17 — Schools place cap on transfers

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Schools place cap on transfers

By Joey Pitchford
Published in News on May 31, 2017 7:10 AM

Parents looking to transfer students across district lines may have a harder time of it come the 2017-18 school year, as the Wayne County public school system is set to adopt stricter guidelines on where and when to allow transfers.

David Lewis, the schools' assistant superintendent for accountability/information technology, said that the changes amount to the district following board of education policy more closely. Where before the district had some flexibility to allow extra transfers, impending class size reductions mandated in House Bill 13 mean that space will be at a premium in the 2018-19 school year.

Finding enough space in schools for students who live in the same district will be hard enough, Lewis said, without adding in an excessive number of out-of-district transfers.

"There was a time when we were better equipped to handle that, but over time the schools just became unbalanced," he said. "The schools are only so big."

Overcrowding and the resulting imbalances are growing problems across the county, especially in elementary schools. In the 2016-17 school year, some schools exceeded capacity by hundreds of students; Northwest and Tommy's Road elementary schools in particular reached nearly 300 extra students each.

Lewis said that while a looser handling of out-of-district transfers contributed to this, much of the problem had to do with changes to the population.

"The student population has simply grown, and it has shifted, but we haven't changed our policies," he said. "School-age students don't live where they used to live."

Reasons for transfers are varied, according to a presentation Lewis gave at a May 23 school board work session.

Chief among them is child care, meaning that a request has to do with before or after school care. Of the 136 new requests in July of 2016, 31 were due to child care.

The other two most prevalent reasons for transferring revolve around keeping students close to family. Twenty-eight of the requests in July 2016 were due to the student having a sibling at either the requested school or another school in its feeder pattern.

Seventeen requests came from Wayne County Public Schools staff wanting to have their children attend the school where they worked.

Lewis said that the goal is to make sure no students have to be shifted around after they have already gotten comfortable.

"The last thing we want to do is allow a student to start at a school in kindergarten or first grade, knowing that it's going to cause problems down the line in fourth or fifth grade," he said.

Some schools still have room for transfers, and the system will accept requests from June 1 through 30. Some locations such as Brogden and Dillard middle schools have more than 80 spaces available, while others like Fremont STARS Elementary have fewer than 20. Applications can be picked up and returned to the WCPS administration building at 2001 E. Royall Ave.