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Students can exercise school choice with transfers

COVINGTON — Some students may be able to transfer to a different school than their zoned one next school year under a state law.

The Newton County School System recently announced that seven of its schools may be able to receive students who wish to exercise school choice under House Bill 251.

Through the law, or the Quality Basic Education Act, which was signed into law in May 2009, 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.

After reviewing guidelines provided by the Georgia Department of Education, NCSS identified East Newton, Heard-Mixon, Livingston, Mansfield and Porterdale elementary schools, as well as Clements and Veterans Memorial middle schools, as potentially eligible schools to accept students.

Based on enrollment projections for next school year, NCSS is expected to have 72 potentially available slots next school year.

East Newton has nine slots, including four in second grade and five in fifth grade; Heard-Mixon has five slots, all in kindergarten; Livingston has 15 slots, five each in kindergarten, first grade and third grade; Mansfield has 16 slots, including five in each kindergarten and third grade and three in each fourth and fifth grades; and Porterdale has 15 slots, five in each first, fourth and fifth grades. Both Clements and Veterans Memorial each have six slots, each in sixth and seventh grades.

Like in previous school years, no slots are available at the district’s three high schools for the 2013-14 school year.

A student who is approved to transfer to another school may continue to attend that school until the student completes all grade levels of the school.

Parents who transfer their child under the bill will assume all costs and responsibilities associated with transporting the child to and from the selected school, if the request is granted.

Parents must complete a Transfer Request Form and submit either by hand delivery to the receptionist at the Newton County Board of Education, located at 2109 Newton Drive N.E. in Covington, or fax to 770-784-4969. The form is posted and available for download on the NCSS website, www.newtoncountyschools.org.

The one-page form asks for student information and school information, including a ranked list of three schools.

The deadline for submission is 5 p.m. Monday.

Transfer Request Forms will be accepted only for those tentatively eligible schools and grades listed as available. If the number of transfer requests received exceeds the remaining available capacity, openings will be filled by a public random lottery.

Letters will be mailed to parents or guardians regarding acceptance or denial of the transfer request no later than July 19.

More information is available by calling the NCSS Department of Student Services at 770-787-1330, ext. 1205.