COVINGTON -- More than 160 Newton County students are attending different schools than the one they were assigned to this school year due to federal and state laws.
According to the Newton County School System, 54 students transferred to other Newton County public schools under House Bill 251, or the Quality Basic Education Act. It was signed into law in May 2009, and under it, Georgia parents can request to transfer their students to other schools in the district as long as there is classroom space available at the school after its assigned students have been enrolled.
This school year, NCSS identified eight schools as eligible to receive students whose parents wish to transfer their child under the provisions of House Bill 251. The schools were East Newton Elementary School, Flint Hill Elementary School, Middle Ridge Elementary School, Oak Hill Elementary School, Porterdale Elementary School, South Salem Elementary School, Clements Middle School and Veterans Memorial Middle School.
The system found 385 available slots based on enrollment projections for this school year.
Based on applications received over the summer, NCSS allowed 54 students to transfer under the bill. This included nine to East Newton Elementary School, seven at Flint Hill Elementary, one at Middle Ridge Elementary, four at Oak Hill Elementary, one at Porterdale Elementary, 19 at South Salem Elementary, four at Clements and nine at Veterans.
A student who transfers to another school may continue to attend that school until he completes all grades of the school.
Parents who transfer their child under HB 251 assume all costs and responsibilities associated with transporting the child to and from the selected school.
Also this school year, 108 students transferred under the Elementary and Secondary Education Assistant Act, which was formerly known as the No Child Left Behind Act Public School Choice.
This school year, Middle Ridge Elementary School was the only NCSS school that had to continue to offer school choice based on Adequate Yearly Progress data.
Since 2001, under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, schools and school systems across the nation are required to meet a certain set of standards based on scores and attendance and participation on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests at the elementary and middle school level, as well as other collected data like elementary school absenteeism.
It also analyzes several subgroups like Students With Disabilities, Economically Disadvantaged and those in various race categories.
Schools that don't meet AYP on a regular basis eventually may be placed on the state's Needs Improvement list, depending on their past performance. Some of those schools also may have to offer school choice if they are on the list for two or more consecutive years, as is the case for Middle Ridge.
This school year, Middle Ridge students had the choice to attend Fairview or Livingston elementary schools, which are not on the state's Needs Improvement list.
According to NCSS, 72 students transferred under the act. This included 28 students to Fairview and 44 to Livingston.
Additionally, 26 students remained at Heard-Mixon Elementary School and 16 at East Newton Elementary from previous transfer requests last school year.
Nine other Newton County schools also did not meet AYP for the 2010-11 school year -- Ficquett, Livingston, Live Oak and West Newton elementary schools; Clements and Cousins middle schools; Alcovy and Newton high schools; and Challenge Charter Academy -- based on preliminary results, but they do not have to offer school choice because of past performance.
Last year, Indian Creek Middle School had to offer a school choice, but the school met AYP this year for the second consecutive year and no longer has to offer a school choice.