Parents of students in eight Kent School District elementary schools now have the option of sending their children to one of three other schools because the schools in question have been identified as in need of improvement under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
Letters went out last month from the district, informing parents of the “public school option” that was triggered when the eight schools – Jenkins Creek, Cedar Valley, Neely-O’Brien, Scenic Hill, Park Orchard, Springbrook, Easthill, and Meadow Ridge – failed to meet “adequate yearly progress” for two consecutive years. The requirement applies only to schools that receive federal Title 1 money, which those eight schools receive.
Students attending those schools now have the option of switching to one of three other elementary schools within the district – Sawyer Woods, Soos Creek or Glenridge.
According to Merri Reiger, an assistant superintendent for the district, Sawyer Woods, Soos Creek and Glenridge were selected for their locations – they’re spread throughout the district – and the amount of space available in each school.
Reiger said it wouldn’t make sense to send students to a school that’s already full. She also noted district officials didn’t want to pick schools that would force families to worry about their kids having to travel to the other side of the district.
“We wanted to be able to offer things that made sense,” Reiger said, adding, “You don’t want to put a little kindergartner on a bus for 45 minutes if you don’t have to.”
Though Reiger said in most districts around the country parents opt to keep their kids in their neighborhood school, if any parents do opt for the public-choice option, transportation would be free.
This is the first time the Kent district has been required to offer the choice. Reiger said because of the way the law was written, this is happening in many districts this year, due to a scheduled increase in test scores that schools must achieve in order to meet adequate yearly progress (AYP).
“If you had exactly the same scores this year as you had last year, you would have double the schools not meet AYP,” superintendent Barbara Grohe said.
Reiger said the district will move forward by providing additional resources for teachers and students at the eight schools that didn’t meet AYP. Reiger said money could be used for support materials and personnel, an instructional coach and for “targeted interventions.”
“We’re going to step up that support even more for these schools,” Reiger said.
“We’re going to continue to do what it takes to make our kids successful,” she said.
Parents interested in signing their children up for public-school choice option had to return a form to schools by Aug. 25.