CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kanawha County has lifted the moratorium on out-of-area transfers to George Washington High School.
That decision effectively reverses last year's move by county administrators to block all out-of-area transfers into the crowded, high-achieving school. The change will take effect in the fall of 2013.
The moratorium was unpopular among GW students and administrators, who said the influx of engaged students is a boon to the school and vital to its atmosphere and achievement. But it was popular in other schools, with administrators who were long unhappy with the tendency of their neighborhood's best students to leave for GW.
All Kanawha County high school students have the opportunity to apply for the school system's school choice program, which lets them attend any high school in the county.
But GW, in Charleston's already-crowded South Hills area, receives a disproportionate number of those students; it offers more than 20 Advanced Placement courses and consistently performs well above average on standardized tests.
At a meeting with Kanawha County school board members Monday afternoon, superintendent Ron Deurring said teachers and administrators at GW had proposed a plan to allow transfer students back in, but through a more intentional, measured process.
That process will involve a more involved application process, probably with an essay and section on "why they're coming," Deurring said, to ensure that students are well suited for the school, and it for them. The idea is to create an application that treats GW "like any other school," Deurring said.
The school board has, so far, stayed out of the moratorium controversy, deferring instead to Deurring's judgment. But the change wasn't universally popular among board members, who rehashed the debate's talking points.
"It just feels like we're trying to drive all our students to one school," board member Robin Rector said. "And every student isn't going to have the transportation or the wherewithal to go there."
That's a central issue: keeping opportunities equal for all students. But there's also an argument about opportunities being equal among schools, especially with advanced placement courses.
All schools are required to have a handful of the courses -- but only a few schools have enough students interested in the academically rigorous courses to offer a full sampling of AP subjects. GW, with around 20 AP courses, has far more advanced placement opportunities than most Kanawha County schools.
"Philosophically I believe it's the school board's responsibility to offer equity in the offerings -- every school should have the things that would make that student want to stay where they are," said board member Bill Raglin.
"If you siphon off the best and the brightest students from any school and put them in another school, you automatically lower the test scores and then you say you're not as good a school."
"They're not siphoning off anybody," replied board president Pete Thaw, a longtime proponent for school choice who opposed the moratorium.
"They're opening the door and saying that if you want to go to GW you can go to GW, if you want to go to Riverside you can go to Riverside. The door is open to all those schools."
Contact writer Shay Maunz at shay.ma...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4886.