In the wake of a school redistricting plan to even enrollment at three schools, Clover has tweaked its procedures for parents who want to move a child to a different school or enroll one from outside the district.
Assistant Superintendent Sheila Huckabee, who worked with a committee that reviewed the school “accommodations policy,” said the committee altered request forms to make the process clear to parents.
The new forms include a timeline with dates and deadlines for parents to submit requests to move a child to an out-of-zone school, as well as a list of reasons that the transfer of a student may be approved.
A separate form for Clover school employees who live outside the district, but who want to enroll their children in Clover schools, will require employees to list a first and second choice of school, Huckabee said.
“This is not changing anything,” said board chairman G. Franklin Pendleton.
Huckabee agreed, saying the reasons the district will agree to move a child to an out-of-zone school have not changed, but she said many parents likely didn’t know where to find the board policy.
“I think that’s been the mystery for parents — they want to know, does this reason have a chance?” she said. “You can’t always make people happy, but you want to have full disclosure for why your decisions are made.”
In the current school year, she said, 225 district employees or community members requested a school accommodation. Of those, 161 were from school employees and 64 were from the community.
Huckabee said employees who request a school accommodation are being asked to list a first and second school choice because one school, Griggs Road Elementary, has a lot of students who aren’t zoned there. She said 39 students are at Griggs Road due to approved school accommodations.
“It gets the most accommodations, and we have to provide some choices so we don’t overload Griggs,” she said. “Instead of saying you get to choose the school, we are saying you are going to have to give us two choices.”
Requests for accommodations are due by April 30 and parents are to be notified of accommodations by May 30. Notifications of any changes in accommodations are to be made by Aug. 10.
Huckabee and Superintendent Marc Sosne said they make an effort to grant requests that are allowed under the policy. However, Sosne noted, “you can almost guarantee someone is going to be unhappy.”
The Clover school board last month approved a school redistricting plan that will move 136 students to new schools in the fall to even enrollment at three schools — Bethany, Larne and Kinard elementaries.
The change was needed to reduce enrollment at booming Larne, with almost 600 students, and increase enrollment at tiny Bethany, which has been losing enrollment. Under the plan, the largest group would move from Larne to Bethany; smaller groups would move from Larne to Kinard and Kinard to Bethany.
As a result of the redistricting, Huckabee said she expects to receive more accommodations requests for the coming school year. She said some students will be changing schools for the third time under the redistricting plan.
However, she said changing schools for the third time is not a reason to grant an accommodation.
“If we accommodate everyone who has been moved three times, we won’t accomplish our mission. And our mission is to stabilize Bethany and take Larne down to a healthier size,” she said.