The East Baton Rouge Parish school system is in the process of notifying families with children enrolled in schools with F grades about schools with better letter grades to which they can transfer.
Families with children in 14 Baton Rouge public schools are being given 44 higher-performing alternatives to choose from. That’s up from four schools with eight options a year ago.
The numbers of students eligible for a school transfer is rising as well, from about 3,600 last year to at least 8,800 students.
The reason for the increase is the state raised the minimum school performance score needed to escape an F grade from 65 to 75. The maximum possible school performance score is 200.
Here are the 14 schools with students eligible for transfers: Claiborne, Capitol, Delmont, Howell Park, Park, Melrose, Merrydale, and Winbourne elementaries; Broadmoor, Capitol, Mayfair and Park Forest middle schools; and Belaire and Glen Oaks high schools.
Six F schools are alternative or charter schools where parents choose to send their children and therefore aren’t given new options.
Elementary and high school families are getting four choices each. At the elementary level, the four choices are different for each school. Belaire and Glen Oaks high school families have three high schools to choose from.
Lee High, which recently reopened with just a ninth and a 10th grade, is a fourth choice for both Belaire and Glen Oaks high schools.
The middle schools all have the same six options for student transfers.
“We are trying to be as broad as we possible can,” said Susan Wolfe, who oversees school choice for the school system. “The idea is to give people as much choice as we can. It’s hard at the middle school level because there’s just not that many seats.”
New state-developed school choice rules allow school districts to take a school’s capacity into account when deciding where to offer choice — something a school district couldn’t do in the past.
The number of eligible families actually choosing to transfer out of low-performing schools has been low through the years.
Last year, only 222 students transferred, less than 1 percent of those eligible.
Automated phone calls went out last weekend and letters with details about the program were mailed out Thursday. Families have until Aug. 24 to apply and will be notified of the schools their children can transfer to by Aug. 31. They need to complete the transfer by Sept. 14.
The school system delayed notifying eligible families for almost two weeks as it sought to clarify conflicting memos school officials had received from the state and federal government, sparking doubts about whether federal Title 1 money could still be used to pay for the program.
School choice for students at low-performing public schools was instituted in 2002 with the enactment of the federal No Child Left Behind law. Louisiana took greater control over school choice rules earlier this summer when it successfully earned a waiver from No Child Left Behind.
On July 31, federal officials assured the school system that it could continue to use Title 1 money.
For more information about East Baton Rouge Parish’s school choice options: http://federalprograms.ebrschools.org/explore.cfm/nochildleftbehind/academicchoice/