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Kanawha schools move to restrict transfers

Nothing the Kanawha County school system does is ever as simple as it might look at first glance. Balancing so many competing interests is not an easy job.

Faced with overcrowding in some schools, Kanawha County schools have been wrestling for years with what the policy on out-of-area transfers should be.

Barring students from transferring to schools outside their attendence districts is too inflexible, and can deny students opportunities they should have.

Allowing students to transfer out of their districts willy-nilly creates chaos.

On Monday, the Kanawha County Board of Education tried to strike a reasonable balance.

The board approved revisions to the transfer policy that makes it tougher for kids to transfer, but still leaves the possibility open.

Students who wanted to attend a school outside their residential areas would come under more scrutiny.

  • Parents could no longer automatically enroll children in an out-of-district school just because that's where a sibling goes.
  • Students who moved to a new area would have to go to the school in that area.
  • But students still could transfer to an out-of-district school if the target school had room.
  • Schools could revoke the transfer of students from outside the attendance area who were consistently tardy or became behavior problems.

The revised policy avoids both needless inflexibility and chaotic permissiveness.

"If people would just go to school where they live, this would be a moot discussion," said school board member Robin Rector..

But a tighter policy on transfers won't satisfy all

parents, and it's easy to understand why. West Side

parent Christy Day put it well:

"If all schools and all achievement were equal, then we wouldn't be having this conversation," she said.

Unfortunately, all schools are not equal. In some areas, schools struggle to raise achievement. In other areas, high performance is the norm.

It's not fair to kids to make them simply the property of their neighborhood schools. That's too inflexible.

Nor is it practical to let kids go wherever they want, leaving some schools underpopulated and others bursting at the seams.

The system has tried again to reach a reasonable compromise. It's likely to have to keep on trying. 


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