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District 833 proposal: No more East Ridge transfers

Students from Park and Woodbury high schools won't be allowed to transfer to East Ridge High School for the 2012-13 school year under an administration recommendation.

East Ridge will also be closed to out-of-district transfers if the District 833 School Board approves the recommendation at its Nov. 17 meeting.

The board met in a workshop on Nov. 3 to discuss changes in the district's policy about students who want to transfer to schools other than those in their assigned attendance boundaries.

Keith Ryskoski, assistant superintendent for secondary education, said there is concern that East Ridge will be at enrollment capacity if transfers continue to be granted.

The district's current policy allows for transfers that don't increase enrollment by more than 3 percent.

Transfers between Park and Woodbury will still be accepted and can still be granted under a lottery system, according to existing district policy that will have a new application deadline of Jan. 13.

Also, students in grades 11 and 12 can apply to attend Park if they intend to enroll in the International Baccalaureate program.

Eligibility for athletic participation for those students requesting transfers is governed by the Minnesota State High School League. Students cannot play in the year they are transferred. Though league approval is needed, there is an exception for athletes intending to enter the IB program.

Ryskoski and Dave Bernhardson, assistant superintendent for elementary education, are also recommending the district accept new students from outside the district except at East Ridge, Cottage Grove and Lake middle schools and Liberty Ridge Elementary School, which are at or near capacity.

Parents can request that their students attend a specific school, but might instead be assigned to schools where their entrance fits within the 3 percent rule and doesn't require additional teachers.

In-district and out-of-district student are allowed to stay at the school they attend until they are ready to attend middle and high schools, when parents must re-apply.

The deadline for elementary school requests is April 6, 2012.

Bernhardson said there are elementary schools where enrollment could be increased by 4 percent, adding 12 to 15 students at each grade level, for example. State aid follows students from their home districts.

Board member Ron Kath said he needs to see forecasts of how many students would transfer if the policy were changed. In general, he said, he doesn't support an increase at the elementary school level. "Taxpayers have to pay to build buildings," he said.

Board member Marsha Adou wants an estimate of how much money out-of-district students would bring.

Half of the enrollment growth in the past two years came from out-of-district transfers, according to Superintendent Mark Porter.

If more students are accepted at the elementary school level, the district is more or less committed to allowing them to progress through the system, he said. If accepted at the high school level, the commitment is only four years.

"I'd be open to that," Kath said.

The recommendations, and proposals to deal with continued enrollment pressure at Liberty Ridge, will be discussed on Nov. 17.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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