School Choice 2013 deadline approaching

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Pam Castor, Manila School District Superintendent, along with other school officials, is trying to stay updated on the official guidelines for School Choice 2013, a new bill passed by the Legislature.

"We recently received more information on School Choice 2013 which will expire in two years," Castor said. "The Legislature will address it again at the end of the two years. There are a lot of questions and the Arkansas Department of Education's legal department is reviewing everything on an individual basis and making a ruling."

Under the School Choice guidelines, students will be allowed to move from one district to another one time a year. Students will be allowed to return to their school of residence in the same year but not transfer to another school during the school year.

The School Choice is open to three percent a year of the school's student enrollment. Castor said siblings will count as only one transfer.

"Districts do not have to accept the students if it will cause a need for additional staff, space or additional programs," Castor said. "Forms must be filed by June 1 at schools, the residence school and the one the student plans to attend. Parents will be notified by Aug. 1 if the transfer has been accepted."

Before the new law, the transfers were accepted or rejected through a board to board transfer.

Castor said the board will need to pass a resolution to allow students to come in or leave the district if all stipulations are met through the School Choice 2013.

"As far as I know, Blytheville is the only school in the area that has filed for an exception to the School Choice 2013 due to a desegregation order.

Castor said applications for School Choice are available at the superintendent's office. The June 1 deadline is nearing.

"This will give parents the right, if they meet the criteria, to send their children to the school of their choice."

Castor said the Arkansas Athletic Association (AAA) has not changed the rules for sports eligibility. School Choice is the same as a move in. AAA allows for students in the ninth grade and under to be eligible to participate in sports without restrictions. Students moving into a new district or through the School Choice, in 10-12 grades, under the AAA rules, must wait a year to participate in sports.

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