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District 833 eyes change to transfer policy

The rules for transferring from one high school to another within the School District 833 might change next year.

District administrators brought the current policy to the school board for discussion at the Sept. 10 workshop meeting.

A revised policy will come to the board for approval at the Nov. 19 meeting.

No School District 833 high school students were allowed to transfer after being assigned to Park, Woodbury or East Ridge high schools this year so students changing schools will have a chance to adjust.

The district was also closed to students enrolling from outside the district. However, students already here were allowed to stay, according to a district policy approved late last fall.

Middle schools with students in grades six to eight are full so transfers aren't likely to be granted in those grades for next year, according to Superintendent Mark Porter.

There is space at other grade levels, however with the opening of a new high school and moving sixth-grade to middle schools.

Whether the district opens enrollment to students outside the district is determined by a Minnesota Department of Education formula, according to Mike Vogel, assistant to the superintendent for operations.

If enrollment were opened for high schools, it would be difficult for the district not to grant the same opportunity to students already in the district, according to Vogel.

Another issue being considered in policy changes is whether students would be allowed to transfer for academic reasons because each high school has a separate focus.

The International Baccalaureate program for juniors and seniors will start next fall at Park. Woodbury offers Advanced Placement courses with on-campus college courses and East Ridge has a science, math and technology focus with college credits earned.

Randy Zipf, assistant superintendent for secondary education, said there might be some students who would switch schools if allowed to do so. Many students would still be loyal to the schools they attend, he said.

Board Member Marsha Adou said she doesn't want students changing high schools.

Dave Bernhardson, assistant superintendent for elementary education, said the district received 400 requests to transfer from assigned elementary schools back to schools attended before new attendance boundary lines were approved.

"Each request has a high degree of legitimacy," Bernhardson said, so requests received by the March deadline were granted by lottery.

Every request for fifth-graders to stay at their former school was granted, he said.

Some families withdrew requests after finding day care in the new attendance area or having "a change of heart" about transferring, Bernhardson said.

Requests for elementary school changes can be granted if there is space at the requested school based on room in individual classes and none are allowed if the school is at 90 percent of its capacity.

With 10 percent of capacity open or lower, schools can accommodate students from families moving into the attendance area.

There are more students than projected in middle schools, Zipf said.

Final district enrollment numbers are expected next month.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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