Hundreds transfer to new schools
More than 400 kids use 'No Child' law to switch

COVINGTON - At least 417 students in the Newton County School System will transfer from their assigned home schools to another county school of their choice after their schools remained on the state's Needs Improvement list this year.

According to Sherri Viniard, director of public relations for NCSS, the school system has granted 417 transfers, as of Tuesday, and it could have more transfers before the school year is out.

In July, Clements Middle School and Middle Ridge and Porterdale elementary schools held informational meetings at their schools and at the county Board of Education office and notified parents by mail that because their schools were on the state's Needs Improvement list after receiving the annual Adequate Yearly Progress results - part of the No Child Left Behind Act - the schools must continue to offer an alternate choice for students.

According to initial results from the state Department of Education, Clements Middle School did not meet AYP for the fifth consecutive year, causing it to keep its Needs Improvement status.

Middle Ridge Elementary School also did not meet AYP for the 2007-08 school year and, therefore, will remain on the state list even though it met AYP last school year; it must meet AYP for at least two years in a row to be removed from the list.

Porterdale Elementary School met AYP for this past school year but must continue to offer school choice since it did not meet it for the 2006-07 school year and was on the list.

Viniard said, so far, 318 students were transferred from Clements Middle - 159 to Veterans Memorial and 159 to Cousins; 55 were transferred from Porterdale Elementary - 20 to Ficquett and 35 to Livingston; and 44 were transferred from Middle Ridge Elementary - 24 to East Newton and 20 to Heard-Mixon.

The deadline for students at those schools to apply for a transfer school was July 25, so no other students who are enrolled in the district at those three schools will be allowed to transfer to another school this year.

"Parents who submitted an application (for school choice) by Friday, July 25, were notified by mail," Viniard said.

According to a school system letter, parents must go to the new school to get bus schedules, as transportation is provided by the school system, and it is recommended that parents attend parent-teacher conferences at the schools.

Students who move into the district later in the school year and are assigned to one of the three schools on the Needs Improvement list still will have a choice.

As a result of the transfers, Viniard said Clements Middle will transfer four teachers and one vacant position to Veterans Memorial Middle, and a vacant position at Indian Creek Middle also will go to Veterans. No staff additions are needed at this time at the elementary schools or at Cousins Middle as a result of the transfers, as they were expected to be choice schools when the Human Resources Department determined teacher allotments before the school year began.

Viniard said Thursday the school system is not transferring any trailers "at this time."

Last school year, former director of Support Services at NCSS Tab Bell reported that 430 students had transferred from their home schools as of Aug. 13, 2007, - 307 from Clements Middle, including 175 to Indian Creek and 132 to Cousins; 106 from Porterdale Elementary, including 72 to Livingston and 34 to Ficquett; and 17 from Middle Ridge Elementary, including 15 to Heard-Mixon and 2 to East Newton.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.

SideBar: At a glance

School Choice Transfers

· Clements to Veterans Memorial Middle: 159

· Clements to Cousins Middle: 159

· Porterdale to Ficquett Elementary School: 20

· Porterdale to Livingston Elementary School: 35

· Middle Ridge to East Newton Elementary: 24

· Middle Ridge to Heard-Mixon Elementary: 20

· Total: 417

Source: Newton County School System