Friday, January 1, 2010

Proposed changes to intra-district transfer and open enrollment policies

On the January 4 Planning Committee Agenda: Proposed changes to the policies on intra-district student transfers between schools and full-time inter-district open enrollment

Policies that affect the ability of families to transfer between MMSD schools or participate in open enrollment opportunities usually get the attention of parents, especially those who are dissatisfied with the school that their child is currently attending or the school that their child will eventually attend because of the attendance area chain.

The Equity Policy that the Board of Education approved a few years ago makes it district policy that all schools will be equally desirable, but from a parent-eye view that goal is still "in progress" at best. Some of the concerns stem from real and unaddressed issues in specific schools, others stem from parent perception of other students and families who are part of a particular school community. In still other cases, parents request transfers so that the school is closer to their place of work or meets other logistical criteria that is helpful to the family.

In recent years, we have seen increasing numbers of families transferring at the elementary level in order to get into a different middle school and/or high school attendance area. This has created new problems of disparity and resource between schools, and problems with crowding. This past year, there was discussion of whether MMSD could continue to approve transfers without consideration of the overall impact to schools and district resources.

The answer from administration appears to be 'yes,' since the proposed policies change little except for some administrative details about how transfers are managed and approved. I may reconsider this position, but as of January 1 it does appear that this is more cosmetic surgery than change. Whether it meets or supports the Equity Policy remains to be seen.

Items of Note in the January 4 Committee Agendas...

On January 4, we have our first committee meetings of 2010. That is less exciting than the action-packed agendas for our January meetings.

To put this post in context, last year we streamlined our committee structures to create three major committees, all of which meet on the same night. This has helped to focus discussions and vet issues before we cast our final votes at the monthly board meeting the following week. As we try to accomplish even more, however, this has meant some long meetings as we try to do the work that was formerly spread among 6 committees that met on different day.

So, a few items of note on the January 4 agendas (believe it or not, there is even more on the full agendas that are available on-line.). I will be writing separate entries about some of the more complex topics.

Planning and Development Committee 

Operational Support Committee 

Student Achievement and Performance Monitoring Committee