District transfer policy may be altered

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By Alex Wimsatt

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - For years, students enrolled in Bullitt County Public Schools have been permitted to transfer from one school to another with no restrictions. 

That changed last year with redistricting when BCPS put a temporary policy in place that restricted transfers to only high school students, students with medical issues, children of full-time district employees and fifth and eighth grade students whose parents didn’t want their children to change schools.  

BCPS director of pupil personnel, Pat Smith-Darnell, said while that policy was in effect there were very few transfers.

In an effort to avoid the overcrowding and negative impact that has often resulted from large numbers of transfers, Darnell recently drafted a policy change that would make permanent last year’s policy, with the exception of allowing fifth and eighth grade students to transfer.

Darnell said the objective was to keep a balance in the district so each school could maintain existing programs and personnel. If transfers are not restricted, Darnell said that would be difficult. 

“We’re trying to keep negative impact to a minimum,” she said. “All our schools have come so far and they all provide excellent opportunities for the children in Bullitt County.”

Space was also a factor with all Bullitt County schools pretty well occupied.  

The office of pupil personnel began drafting the policy change in April when BCPS began accepting transfer requests. 

Darnell said it was important BCPS consider the policy change before the next school year, because, while there would be little change from last year’s policy, any changes after its expiration would be drastic. 

“We felt that if we’re going to make a change, now’s the time to do it,” she said, 

The proposed policy change underwent numerous revisions and was discussed at several meetings before the school board heard first reading on May 24.  

School board members voted unanimously to take the policy revision under advisory with the understanding that they could make changes prior to a final vote. 

Board chairwoman, Dolores Ashby, said she was unsure where she stood on restricting transfers within the district. Whatever decision board members make, Ashby said the issue would not be taken lightly.  

“Every decision we make is about our kids. It’s about what’s best for the children,” Ashby said. “I feel we’re working very hard to make sure our schools are on the same page...It bothers me that some people think some of our schools are better than others-that’s simply not true.”

Ashby said there was a lot of information to review before casting her vote.

“There are a lot of things to consider,” she said. “We don’t know if we want to be so rigid about the transfers, but we feel all the schools in the district are fine schools.” 

Darnell said the only difference between the policy being considered by the school board and the policy that was part of last year’s redistricting plan is that fifth and eighth graders would not be eligible to transfer without legitimate medical reasons or parents employed full-time with BCPS. 

Transfers are granted by the office of pupil personnel based on a number of factors, including attendance, behavior and academic progress. 

All transfer applications are directed to the office of pupil personnel.

As of May 27, the office of pupil personnel received 249 transfer applications. 

The school most requested by transfer applicants is Eastside Middle School. Fifteen applied for transfers to the school from Mount Washington Middle, 10 applicants requested transfers from Bullitt Lick, seven requested transfers from Bernheim and one requested transfer from Hebron Middle. 

Twenty six applied for transfers to Bullitt Central High, 24 applied for transfers to Pleasant Grove Elementary, 19 applied for transfers to Cedar Grove Elementary, 19 applied for transfers to Roby Elementary, 16 applied for transfers to North Bullitt High, 15 requested transfers to Freedom Elementary, 13 requested transfers to Shepherdsville Elementary, 11 requested transfers to Bullitt East High and 10 requested transfers to Crossroads Elementary. 

The remaining schools had transfer requests in the single digits. No applicants requested transfers to Nichols as of May 27. 

During the 2010-2011 school year there were 324 transfers, 114 of which were fifth and eighth graders who would have otherwise been forced to change schools due to redistricting. 

The previous school year there were 391 transfers. 

School board members are expected to vote on a final version of the policy revision during their June regular meeting.