Pupil-transfer plan presented to board

Proposal targets six low-performing elementary schools

Anne Arundel

October 25, 2001|By Stephen Kiehl | Stephen Kiehl,SUN STAFF

About 2,500 children in six low-performing Anne Arundel County elementary schools would have a chance to transfer to a better school under a plan presented to the school board last night.

But the school system isn't making it easy. Pupils would have to transfer in the middle of the school year, and the system would not provide transportation to their new schools.

For those reasons and others, school officials don't expect many families to apply for transfers.

"Parents don't like to move children out of their communities and away from their friends" during the year, said Nancy Mann, an assistant superintendent. "The majority of parents seem very comfortable with their school and how it's performing."

The six Anne Arundel elementary schools affected are Georgetown East and Tyler Heights in Annapolis, Freetown in Glen Burnie, Harman in Hanover, Park in Brooklyn Park and Van Bokkelen in Severn.

The state singled out those schools in May because their test scores had fallen for two consecutive years and because many of the pupils are from poor families. The state also identified 109 schools elsewhere in Maryland where parents will be offered the option to transfer.

All of the schools are part of the Title I federal program, which aims to boost student achievement. The schools get extra money from the federal government for programs and teachers.

"They have to be making progress," said Ron Peiffer, assistant state schools superintendent. "The assumption is, if you're putting extra money into these schools, they're using it well and moving kids along."

Baltimore had the most low-performing schools, with 68. City school officials presented their transfer plan to parents in August and pupils were moved by the end of September.

In Anne Arundel County, Mann said, the school system can't transfer pupils until the middle of the year because it needs time to figure out which schools have room to accept the transfer pupils. The district has not identified those schools.

Schools that are at capacity would not have to accept transfer pupils from low-performing schools. All pupils can apply for transfers, but there's no guarantee that they'll get them.

Pupils can only transfer to another school within their high school feeder system. And only schools with test scores at or above the state average can accept transfers.

Pupils in the bottom 20 percent of the classes in their low-performing school would be given priority for getting into another school.

Anne Arundel County is getting $290,000 from the federal government to help its six low-performing schools. Instead of using the money to transport students to better schools, the county will put the money into improving those six schools, Mann said.

The school board received the plan last night and will vote on it Nov. 7. If the plan is approved, parents would have until Jan. 14 to apply for transfers, which would become effective with the start of the second semester Feb. 4.

Officials said they will schedule community meetings to explain the plan to parents.

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