Teacher will move, rather than transferring children
By RACHEL COLEMAN
• Leader & Times
The students have enrolled, and fewer will have to trek to schools far from their homes, reported superintendent of schools Paul Larkin at Monday night’s USD No. 480 school board meeting. Unexpectedly high numbers of kindergarten students enrolling at McKinley Elementary and fewer entering MacArthur Elementary caused the district to take a second look at its original plans. The result? Move a teacher, not the students.
“In discussions the K-3 principals, we came up with the idea that, instead of having 28-30 forced transfers, why not move an adult?” Larkin said. “It eliminated a lot of forced transfers.”
Thus, an additional session of kindergarten will be conducted at McKinley, which previously had only one kindergarten classroom. The move will allow about 30 of the district’s youngest students to attend school closer to home.
“Typically, we try to appease everyone we can, and we had a lot of requests this year, ‘Can I go to this school,’ and ‘Can my student transfer to another school,’” Larkin said. “We were able to accommodate some of those requests, but unfortunately, as always, we still have some forced transfers.”
Forced transfers are generally prompted by overcrowded classrooms. His first year in the district, Larkin reported, more than 120 USD 480 students in elementary grades were required to attend schools outside the usual boundaries in their home neighborhoods.
“This year, we had 49,” he said, “so we’ve cut it by more than 50 percent, and we are doing the best we can.”
In his report to the board, Larkin noted the K-3 principals make transfer decisions based on the class sizes established by the board of education. Those are:
Kindergarten — 18 students
First Grade — 19 students
Second Grade — 21 students
Third Grade — 22 students
In addition, when presented with requests to transfer, or not transfer, building principals consider several criteria that have been established over the past two years. These include whether a student has attended the same building since kindergarten, if the student has an IEP (Individualized Education Plan, set up for special-needs or gifted students), and whether or not a student has siblings attending school in the same building.
Occasionally, classrooms are still overcrowded after students who do not meet the above criteria have been moved. In those cases, a lottery is used to decide which students must transfer. In such cases, the district provides transportation for those transferred students from their “home schools” to the new school.
Larkin noted that all forced transfers occur because of the district’s ever-increasing enrollment and limited facilities.
“If we can build more rooms, we can eliminate the problem,” he said. For now, however, “we’re ready to start the new year."