School board to approve limited transfers, discuss strategies for population balance

Although it considered denying transfer requests for next year, the Lake Oswego School Board agreed that a small handful of students who applied for transfers to schools outside of their attendance area for the 2012-13 school year can continue as planned.

The Lake Oswego School District has typically allowed transfers freely between all of its schools, choosing to trust that parents have good reasons for wanting their children in a school that is not their home school.

'I don't want to take away parent choice. Our parents aren't frivolous,' said board member Patti Zebrowski at a May 29 work session. 'They make these decisions on the best interest of their children. … If they've done it this far in advance, it's probably something they've put a lot of thought into.'

Additionally, children entering sixth and seventh grade have already forecasted their classes for next school year assuming their transfer requests were approved.

'When we were discussing middle school, we discussed transitions and how they affect kids in a mostly negative way,' said board member Linda Brown. 'To me what is key is … they have had the expectation all year that they are going to be able to attend LOJ. ... I'm in favor of letting these kids continue with their assumption.'

The school district began looking at its transfer policy in late winter when Lakeridge High School parents became very vocal about a perceived deficiency in academic elective offerings at Lakeridge compared to Lake Oswego High School. The problem is primarily driven by student population, which dictates how many classes are offered. Lakeridge has about 180 students less than LOHS.

Currently there are 92 transfers from Lakeridge to LOHS, and there are only 57 from LOHS to Lakeridge. Waluga has also lost 42 students to Lake Oswego Junior High School, while only seven from LOJ are currently at Waluga.

But the school board seemed to feel that this is only a small piece of a multi-strategy solution to the problem. However, after Tuesday's work session, it seemed clear that all agreed that after the 2012-13 school year, transfers will be more restricted until parity in population is reached.

While the school board agreed that it will approve all current high school transfer requests for next year and subsequent years until those students finish high school, it put a caveat on the middle school transfers and younger siblings of transfers. For the 2012-13 year, transfers to the middle school are granted, but the school board agreed that those transfers must return to their home high school once they reach ninth grade.

The decision still presents parents with some choices.

'They could reevaluate their decision knowing that they'll return to Lakeridge,' Zebrowski said.

Additionally, siblings of elementary transfers will be approved so families can keep their children in the same school, but they must return to their home high school.

Also, any new secondary transfer requests may be subject to new rules.

The school board is scheduled to vote on transfers and discuss other solutions to the population parity at its Monday, June 4 meeting.

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