Cape school officials to revisit intradistrict transfers

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A hot-button policy about intradistrict transfers within the Cape Girardeau School District will be revisited by the school board Monday.

A proposed policy would allow students to remain in an elementary school until completion if their families move to a different attendance zone in the district. Younger siblings would be permitted to attend the original school if they start while the older sibling is there. Transportation would not be provided.

Members hope the new policy is clearer and fairer than in the past.

Principals support the policy, pointing to research that shows less-mobile students perform better academically. "It's hard for kids to move, especially when they're little," Clippard Elementary principal Sydney Herbst said in April.

Board president Kyle McDonald said Friday he learned that students who change schools are set back about three months as they play catch-up and adjust to their surroundings.

In the past, principals or the superintendent could grant exceptions to attendance zone policies, but no record was kept. Board and community members argued that without specific guidelines or documentation, unfair application was a possibility.

The issue came to a head at a May 19 board meeting. McDonald called for a discussion about "gray areas," such as how long an exception should last and how younger siblings should be affected.

A committee made up of elementary principals, McDonald, assistant superintendent Pat Fanger and superintendent Dr. Jim Welker was formed to study the issue.

"We met back in June, and this policy is a result of that meeting," Welker said. He also said a tracking system has been implemented.

The policy affects four to six students per building, McDonald said.

"It seems a majority -- well over 90 percent -- move from apartment to apartment," he said. "I believe a couple of students were homeless, living in a shelter or in volatile living conditions. It's better to have a stable base at school."

335-6611, extension 123

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