New policy set will grandfather in current waivers
The Oregon Trail School Board of Directors approved a redefined policy on inter-district transfers that will tighten the criteria for students who want to attend a public school in another school district.
Currently, 68 students who live in the district attend public schools outside of Oregon Trail, while 14 students in local schools live in other districts.
The new policy, approved 6-1, will be tougher than the previous policy but aims to make transfer decisions 'easier for staff and parents,' said district spokeswoman Julia Monteith.
Waivers to attend out-of-district schools will be granted based on special circumstances, such as a child who wishes to finish the school year at the school he or she attended since September, extenuating educational, health or safety circumstances, or special hardships affecting the student or their immediate family. Families still will have to reapply for the waivers each year.
According to district officials, every child who gets a waiver to attend schools outside Oregon Trail costs the district approximately $6,000 per child (half that for kindergartners).
That led some board members to oppose an amendment to the new policy that grandfathers in current waivers granted under the previous policy. That amendment passed 5-2.
'It's about the $300,000 in tuition that is going to other districts from this district,' said Board Chairman John Bromley, who dissented with Randy Carmony. 'I think we have a fiduciary duty to see that this district has the funding it needs to operate. If we open the gates and let everybody go hither and yon, we're not going to have much of a school district left.'
Parents of inter-district transfer students noted how important each school is for their children when asking for support for the amendment.
'They are now emotionally invested in that decision (to go to another school) and committed not only to those schools, but to those peer groups, theater groups, bands, athletics,' said Welches resident Jon Tullis, a parent of three inter-district students. 'These things are all so important to a young person's life.'
Others in the audience noted that despite the disparity between incoming and outgoing transfers, the impact would not be significant enough to outweigh the benefits for the students.
'As I look at this table here, I see that once you're past the high schoolers on the table, the numbers are really minimal,' said Rich La Greide. 'For the amount of disruption there would be in the many lives of many students and families … it would probably be pretty wise to let them have their continuity.'
While some parents noted that the district does not offer some of the courses available in other districts, Superintendent Shelley Redinger revealed that in the near future, the Oregon Trail School District will add bolstered advanced placement classes and a Center for Advanced Learning.
'This is a whole new era, a whole new time,' Redinger said. 'We want people to see that.'
Redinger said the amendment to allow currently waived students to continue to attend out-of-district schools will prolong the effect on the district's finances.
'Because everybody was grandfathered, we'll continue to feel the impact for a few years until that group of students works through the system,' she said.
|Oregon Trail School District student transfers|