Parents, school districts look at impact of transfer ruling - KCTV5

Parents, school districts look at impact of transfer ruling

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

One day since the metro learned Kansas City School District students can transfer out of the district, there are still a lot of unanswered questions.

All the districts involved in the possible student transfer next school year don't know exactly what they'll need parents to do, but they're working on a plan. What they know so far is that if you're a parent who wants to transfer your student from KCPS to one of the other five districts, according to Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education guidelines, you need to let KCPS know by Feb. 1. You also need to let the school district to which your child will be transferring know by Feb. 1.

According to Raytown School District's public information office, there is not paperwork ready yet for parents to fill out to transfer their student. The five metro school districts had been meeting prior to Tuesday's Supreme Court ruling concerning the transfer law to create a consistent form for parents to use. They are also looking at identifying a place where all the information about each district would be available for parents to peruse as they make their decision.

"School districts could send their capacity numbers to the clearinghouse and parents could go there and look at the choices they might have and once they found a school district they could attend, where the capacity would accept their students, they would go to that school district and enroll no different than a student moving in to that community would do today," said Raytown Superintendent Allan Markley.

Districts are targeting Jan. 15 to have a plan in place. Given DESE's deadline for students informing KCPS they are leaving their current school and then notifying the new school district in which they'd like to attend, that gives them 17 days.

Another thought worth considering for parents is that Kansas City Public School District will only cover transportation costs to the four districts of North Kansas City, Independence, Raytown and Center. Students going to any other school district, including Blue Springs and Lee's Summit, won't receive transportation aid.

One woman who has two children at Kansas City's Southwest High School said she wants her children out of the district and it doesn't matter if she has to drive them herself to their new school.

"They are not taking care of how they're handling the schools, the kids. It's just out of control," said Jacinda Porter.

Porter said she's fed up with the Kansas City Public School District. She has two children attending one of the district's high schools and she's ready to move them out.

"They say, ‘mom we ask questions and the teachers, if they're not listening, they'll just write it up on the board and then that's it.' They're not showing them anything," she said.

Porter's daughter Angel may become one of the more than 7,700 students in the unaccredited district who told surveyors in 2012 they'd transfer if they could. That's almost half of the district's total student population.

More than 700 of those students who'd like to transfer said they'd like to go to Raytown. But that school district, like others who spoke out Wednesday, doesn't know just how many students it will be able to accommodate.

"We're very proud of our class sizes. Even though they're not all at the desirable standard, many are and we know and we rely on research that shows smaller class sizes means higher academic achievement," Raytown's superintendent said.

Raytown is committed to keep its class sizes as small as possible. The state board of education recommends 20 to 25 students in each class for kindergarten through second grade, 22 to 27 students in classes for third through fourth grade, 25 to 30 for grades fifth through sixth, and 28 to 33 for seventh through 12 grade.

Smaller class sizes appeal to Porter.

"With the schools around here, they have them all in these little bitty schools. There are way too many kids in a classroom. How are they possibly learning?" she said.

Porter's daughter, a high school freshman, said she would like to have better teachers, who she could turn to for help in school and in life, but she's not sure switching schools will be a guarantee for a better education.

"Even though it's at a better district, I'm not exactly sure. You can't judge a book," Angel said.

Despite all of the unknowns and controversy surrounding the transfer law, her mom likes it.

"I'm real grateful for that because it's giving them a better opportunity," Porter said.

But many KCPS parents KCTV5 spoke with Wednesday said they are deciding that, even though they could leave their struggling district, they're staying put. They said they like their school and they like the sense of community that comes with attending a nearby school.

They also said they don't want to have the hassle of figuring out how to get their child to and from school every day.

School districts say not knowing how many students will ultimately choose to transfer and how many students they could even accommodate is proving to be quite a challenge.

All members of the community are invited to visit kcpublicschools.org/accreditation to get the latest information regarding the overall KCPS accreditation situation, and how it relates to student transfers. A link to the DESE transfer guidelines is also available, as well as letters from Superintendent R. Stephen Green.

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