Students in Bedford County Public Schools could now be allowed to attend the same school as their older siblings, even if they live outside the school’s attendance zone.
At its meeting Nov. 12, the Bedford County School Board unanimously voted, with board chair Martin Leamy absent, to accept a revision to the division’s school zone transfer policy that allows students to enroll in the same school as an older sibling as long as that school is less than 95% full.
The division’s school zone transfer policy exists to authorize students to transfer to and attend schools outside their attendance zone. Students can be considered for transfers to schools outside their home zone if their parents work there, or if they’re moving elsewhere in Bedford County but want to stay at the same school. If a school’s enrollment exceeds capacity, or is projected to exceed capacity, it is closed to transfers.
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At its meeting, the school board approved a policy revision that added a third consideration to allow zone transfers from students wishing to enroll in the same school as an older sibling.
At the board’s Oct. 8 meeting, Mark Blankenship, supervisor of testing and demographic planning in the division, said the division was having an issue with zone transfer requests from students starting kindergarten whose older siblings were approved to attend a school that is now reaching capacity and closed to zone transfers. Families were stuck in the dilemma of wanting their children to attend the same school but not wanting to pull the older student away from the school they know.
Blankenship said at least four families were in this situation in the past year.
At the October meeting, District 1 representative Susan Mele said she felt an exception should be made for siblings of students currently attending a school as long as it didn’t put the school over capacity.
“I think siblings should attend, but I don’t think they should attend if we have to hire another teacher in order to do that,” Mele said.
The board has discussed the policy at several meetings this year. After hearing from families whose school zone transfers were not being approved, District 5 representative Georgia Hairston brought the matter to the other board members at the July 9 meeting.
“Being a parent myself, I know how difficult it can be balancing the various schedules, transporting students here and there,” Hairston said at the July meeting.
Hairston urged her fellow board members and administrators in the division to consider adding an exception to the policy to allow students to attend the same school as their older sibling.
Zone transfer requests may be submitted for consideration between March 1 and July 1 preceding the school year for which the transfer is requested.