Pupils at 3 sites offered transfers

2,400 in Balto. Co. eligible to move to better schools

April 22, 2003|By Jonathan D. Rockoff | Jonathan D. Rockoff,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore County school system has begun offering parents of children attending low-achieving schools the opportunity to transfer to better schools next school year.

Next school year will be the third year of the federal Title I option, which is designed to introduce more choice into public education.

In the past few weeks, the school system has held information meetings for parents at the three schools from which pupils may transfer -- Powhatan Elementary, Winfield Elementary and Woodlawn Middle, all in western Baltimore County. Ninety parents attended, according to school officials.

The school system plans to hold more sessions for parents whose children are scheduled to enter those schools next year, said Ronald Boone, executive director of federal and state programs.

Eligible parents can then apply for transfers and list, in order of preference, the schools they would like their children to attend.

About 2,400 children are eligible to transfer to higher-performing schools, Boone said. Pupils in the two elementary schools may choose among 46 schools; pupils from Woodlawn Middle have eight options.

The school system will bus transferred pupils to their chosen schools. Pupils will attend those schools until graduation, unless they choose to withdraw.

The transfers are required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which provides the choice at schools with low or declining test scores.

Woodlawn Middle, Powhatan Elementary and Winfield Elementary offered transfers this school year. They must offer the transfers again because Maryland is instituting new testing and the schools won't be able to demonstrate improvement over the previous year.

This school year, 88 pupils transferred; two later returned to their schools.

Parents said they expect a similarly small turnout next school year. That's partly because many parents don't want their children bused far from home, said Sam Macer, who helps oversee PTA groups in Baltimore County.

And, Macer added, school officials "really are putting forward the best effort I've seen in years to improve achievement at these three schools, and I think parents see that."

Kimberley West, president of the PTA at Powhatan Elementary, said the school's test scores have increased and its PTA enrollment is 100 percent. "Parents can see test scores and their child improving," West said.

"I can't imagine seeing the school on the list next year."

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