School deadline nears

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

MAMMOTH SPRING -- July 1 is the deadline to submit an application for a student to attend school during 2007-08 in another district.

Mammoth Spring School Superintendent Ron Taylor said a law passed in 1989 by the Arkansas General Assembly, the Public Schools Choice law, allows students in the state to attend a public school in a district other than the school district in which they reside.

"Before a student can attend a public school in a non-resident district, the student's parent or guardian must submit an application to the non-resident district," Taylor said.

He said the applications must be postmarked no later than July 1 of the year the student would begin the fall semester in the non-resident district.

The law says students and parents will become more informed and involved in the public school education system if students and their parents are provided greater freedom to determine the most effective school for meeting their individual educational needs. "There is no right school for every student" the law says. "Permitting students to choose among different schools with different assets will increase the likelihood that some marginal students will stay in school and that other more motivated students will find their full academic potential if given a choice where they can attend school."

Taylor agrees with the law. He said last year the Mammoth Spring School District had between 12 and 15 students attend as non-resident students.

"In our area it is mostly an issue of convenience. Students should be allowed to attend a school closest to where they reside," he said. He said in some instances, a student might live six or seven miles from Mammoth Spring School, but live in another school district. "That student would end up riding 25 or 30 miles to school," he said.

Taylor said the property taxes of the student would stay with the school district where they reside but state aide would follow the student.

"This is not about competition between school districts. It's about best serving the needs of the students and their parents," the superintendent said.

Taylor said the law does not apply to students in other states. In other words if a student lives in Thayer they would not be allowed to attend school at Mammoth Spring.

He said Public School Choice forms are available in his office. "The school receiving the students by law has to notify the students home district that the student will be moving to a different school district," Taylor said.

Taylor said if a parent should miss the July 1 deadline to change school districts they can go through what is called a Legal Transfer Process. "The parents would have to petition their home school district school board for a release from that district and then the school board where the student would like to attend school would have to accept them," he said.

Taylor said anyone who would like more information about the Public School Choice law can call him at 870-625-3612.

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