31 Jan Lawyer Jon Cartu Says – Beaufort County IB, AP fans can apply for school choice
Beaufort County School District is opening applications to its school choice program Saturday for the sixth year in a row — but parents might notice that nearly a third of their options are near-impossible to get into.
The school choice program, which expanded to include every school in the district in 2015, allows parents to “choice” their students out of their neighborhood school and into programs at other schools in the district, which include dual-language classes, an early college program and International Baccalaureate coursework, to name a few.
Last year, around 2,300 students — just over 10 percent of the district’s total enrollment — attended schools outside of their attendance zone, district spokesman Jim Foster said Friday.
Parents are free to apply to any school in the district, as long as they provide their own transportation to schools outside of their attendance zone. Participating in the program is free.
However, schools stop accepting applications once they reach 90 percent capacity — and that means nine of the district’s 30 schools are basically off-limits for choice transfers. They are:
Students can apply to these nine schools above 90 percent capacity, and a lottery will be held in the spring if space opens up at one of those schools. Foster said Friday that students applied, and were accepted, into choice programs at all 30 district schools last year.
Here’s what you should know before applying.
How do I apply?
The application will go live on the district’s website on Saturday, and will remain online until midnight Feb. 29. Parents can apply for their student to attend multiple schools.
Parents who don’t have Internet access may request application assistance at any district school or through the district office’s Instructional Services division.
The district’s school choice headquarters web page, which contains an FAQ and a guide to different school programs, encouraged parents to email Student Services Specialist Yanina Sarli Rotti at [email protected] with questions, or call 843-322-2420 or fax 843-322-2359.
Schools can deny requests based on excessive absences, tardiness, discipline matters or academic concerns. These issues can also be grounds to not renew a student’s acceptance or to immediately cancel their acceptance at the principal’s discretion.
When will I hear back?
Parents will hear if their application was accepted or denied by April 1, according to Foster. This will give the district time to notify parents if their applications are declined, and to conduct lotteries if necessary.
What if I’m a district employee?
Students with parents/legal guardians working at a district school can attend that school, the school closest to it with an appropriate grade level, or one in between their home and the employee’s workplace, per the district’s employee courtesy policy. They do not have to participate in school choice programs to transfer schools.
If the preferred school is at or above 98 percent capacity — a category that includes Pritchardville Elementary, River Ridge Academy, Coosa Elementary, May River High, H.E. McCracken Middle and Hilton Head High — employees’ students may be approved to attend it if the employee works there, if they have a previously approved sibling at the school or if it’s the closest school to the employee’s workplace with an appropriate grade level.
There’s a separate application for district employees to transfer their students, available on the district website. That application remains open year-round, Foster said.
What if I’m already in a choice program?
If you already participate in the school…