Education

QPS Policy Committee looks at transfer policy

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Sep. 13, 2017 9:10 am

QUINCY -- The Quincy School Board adopted a boundary plan for the five new K-5 buildings designed to equalize demographic factors, but the district's transfer policy potentially could jeopardize that balance.

Superintendent Roy Webb said Tuesday afternoon's Policy Committee meeting was "a proper place" to start the discussion as the district's administrative team looks for guidance from the School Board while crafting the transition to the new school buildings.

"I'm not anticipating a problem. I'm just saying if the board wants to give guidance on this, now would be the time," Webb said. "You may say you don't want any transfers. You may want to have specific guidance on what are the priorities."

The district allows about 200 transfers a year, with most to allow students to attend the school where their parent teaches, to permit siblings of a child with special needs served in a program available at only one or two schools to attend the same school and to accommodate day care needs.

"The overarching strategic question is, should we continue with our practice as it is now, which is working pretty well?" Webb said.

District policy allows transfers based on class size, but committee members discussed adding a provision based on demographics.

"Right now we set out some kind of policy that says not only is it space, but diversity ... in a very positive way with language that explains the board's focus on having a similar experience in every school," committee member Nora Baldner said. "I almost think if parents knew the policy existed, it might preclude people from jumping on a transfer because their favorite teacher got moved to a different school."

Committee member Alan Nichols suggested waiting to see what happens with transfers in terms of balance among the buildings.

"A plus or minus 10 percent I'm not convinced will make that much difference, but if we have 90 percent minority in this school and 10 percent in this school, I'm convinced it makes a big difference," Nichols said.

Committee members asked for more information about the number of transfers and the reasons for the requests. The committee also will review notes from the boundary task force tied to transfer requests.

"Looking at the data in order to craft a policy makes sense," Baldner said.

The Policy Committee also recommended that the School Board shift human relations from a superintendent's committee to a standing committee and recommended tabling for 30 days policy language tied to the new committee. The committee -- which handles general personnel issues, including health insurance and quality of life, but not specific hiring, firing or discipline of district staff -- would be the district's sixth standing committee along with Finance, Building, Policy, Discipline and Curriculum.

In addition, the Policy Committee discussed a new waiver tied to the state school funding legislation, allowing districts to offer three instead of five days of physical education each week. Superintendent Roy Webb said his recommendation is to stay with five days of physical education because the activity is important to students. A bigger question in the district is tied to high school students trying to fit desired classes and physical education into their schedule, but the state has not addressed that concern.