Administrators: Transfers remain problematic

Just because the Warren County School District clarified language in the transfer policy at a meeting earlier this month doesn’t mean that issues with enrollment and transfers are going to go away.

But the school board received assurances from administration during Monday’s board Curriculum, Instruction and Technology Committee meeting that efforts are underway to improve.

Superintendent Dr. William Clark said that, with the more restrictive transfer policy in place for approximately the last year, 79 permanent transfer requests were received in 2012-2013. There were seven last year. The number of temporary transfers increased from 24 to 27.

“Your number of requests seem to be tightening up,” he said. “There are things that aren’t going well.”

He identified geographic “gray areas” where students are still afforded the option to selected which school North Warren where students can go to Eisenhower or Warren, for example.

“There are a variety of ones,” he said. “(There are) still those gray areas that are out there that we need to take a look at.”

But larger issues exist with enrollment procedures and a recent change made to the policy differentiating between domicile and residence which, essentially, limits people’s ability to procure an address in a given attendance area to manipulate which district school their children attend.

Clark said that “what was unsettling” was that some secretaries at district buildings accepted the secondary addresses and some did not.

“We get some people that change addresses and don’t notify the school,” Clark said. “We do have some work to do here. We need to take some new forms, procedures, for what we expect of our secretaries and of the principals… as people are coming in. We need to provide some training for them.”

One change that should alleviate that concern is centralized registration.

“The goal is to start it the first day of school,” he said of the new centralized approach. The school code gives the district five days from the date of application to have a student processed and placed in the classroom and he said he things “we can get kids in the classroom within a day.

“That would be the first thing we are going to do,” Clark said, explaining that there are secretaries in central office who have handled registration at the building level previously.

He said the district will also review the “interpretation of attendance areas” to “see if there is anything we need to do to address those down the road. We’ve been wrestling with this bear for a couple months now. There are some things we can certainly do better.”

“What it comes back to, the big buzz word consistency,” Board member Paul Mangione said.

Director of Administrative Support Services Amy Stewart said she has met with the secretaries and “they have a desire for consistency, as well. (It) varies based on the information they are given. There are a lot of folks out there that would like to go to other schools. (Secretaries are) the first line of defense.”

“The difference in catching something like this, (you) are taught as a principal ‘Get kids in, educate them. Ask questions later,'” Gary Weber, director of curriculum, instruction and assessment. “At the high school level, because of policies gone through with valedictorian… they are questioning every kid coming through the door.”

Board President Arthur Stewart asked if the district is also moving to a centralized system to address transfers as well as enrollment.

Clark said they would not and advocated a collaborative approach but at the building level.

“(I) was envisioning this being a one stop shop,” Board Vice-president Donna Zariczny said.

“We can go there,” Amy Stewart added. “This is fluid right now to us.

“Here’s where we are. (We’re) faced with an uncomfortable situation,” she said. “It’s not nice where we are right now. We want this consistent. If we need everything at Central Office we’ll get it there.”