The Arlington Independent School District approved a measure on Thursday that allows any student to attend any school in the district.
Parents will be allowed to apply for a transfer as early as March 2. Arlington ISD spokesperson Amy Casas said most reasonable requests will be granted, assuming the desired school is not full.
“A lot of times it’s because [parents] work closer to that school or they like a certain teacher – whatever their reason may be for wanting to transfer,” said Casas. “But we’re not going to overburden the school with additional students, or add portables to accommodate additional students, or add staffing to accommodate additional students.”
Students within Arlington ISD boundaries will have first choice at open school slots. If a school is full, students will be waitlisted.
Those beyond Arlington ISD boundaries will also be eligible to transfer into the district; however, those students will automatically be waitlisted until students who live inside district boundaries are placed.
When considering whether to grant students permission to transfer, Casas said the district will consider such things as that student’s academic performance, disciplinary record and attendance trends.
Arlington ISD has also changed the cost of transferring. In the past, students who wanted to transfer into the district from another school district had to pay a nearly $2,000 tuition. Now, if approved, out-of-district transfers will have to pay a $100 fee.
Students attempting to transfer within the district during the month of March face a $65 fee. After March the fee jumps to $100.
Most parents say having the choice is worth the price of admission.
“If you’re in an area that’s not a good area or the expectations are low, you can go to a better school,” said Donna Olszewski, an Arlington mother. “The level of expectation from the parent for the school goes up, they’re not stuck with what [other schools] were offering before and [schools will] start to compete. I think that competition will be good for the education of the children.”
Mary Powell said she thinks parents should have the choice, but worries that there will be a drain on poor performing schools.
“I think it hurts the poorer schools, the poorer performing schools because of course everyone is going to want to go to the better schools. But parents want the best education for their children – we all do,” said Powell.
But Casas played down the idea that there will be a mass exodus from certain schools.
“It usually balances out,” said Casas. “We haven’t really had a school where you’ve seen a dramatic drop in students going to that school.”
Parent Kevin Stokes said he is concerned about the potential impact on high school athletics.
“[Schools] are going to overload on players and you’re just going to have one school dominate the district. That’s not fair,” said Stokes.
Although students will not be allowed to transfer just on the basis of sports, those who play high school sports will be allowed to transfer for other reasonable reasons. Casas said athletes who are granted permission to transfer will have to sit out of their respective sport for one year “while they establish residency in their new school” that abides by University Interscholastic League regulations.
Every school in the district will be open for transfer with the exception of Adams, Atherton, Hale and Johns elementary schools, as they work on balancing out their school populations.
Arlington ISD is expecting a run on schools. The district will allow parents to camp out at the district offices in the days leading up to March 2, when the district begins taking transfer applications.
All applications will be served on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Parents wishing to camp out will be required to purchase a $50 permit.