The Salt Lake School District will have a new high school transfer policy in effect when school opens in less than two weeks, but students thinking they've found a way to circumvent the new boundaries had better forget it.
In an unusual, unanimous vote, the board abandoned its well-known 4-3 split to back a new transfer policy that is intended to address exceptional needs and special circumstances while maintaining the stability of the city's three high schools.Board Vice President Stephen Boyden said the new policy is intended to help manage the new high school boundaries, not defeat them. "The boundary wars are over for this board. It is time to put that behind us and go on."
The action comes after five months of debate and several proposals. The current policy, which many parents found objectionable, required parents to document emotional, mental or physical problems in their children before a transfer could be granted.
The new policy will allow all new students moving into neighborhoods to attend the boundary school or another school to which the neighborhood's sophomores, junior and seniors have been allowed to attend under the boundary decision's grandfather clause.
A student may be able to transfer at the end of the first quarter of school if unusual problems develop that are not covered by the current transfer policy. A student may also be allowed to transfer before the school year begins to eliminate debilitating stress, to enhance participation in a sequence of curriculum offerings not available at the home school or to alleviate obvious geographical isolation.
To transfer, a student's application must be approved by a counselor, an administrator assigned by the principal and by the principals of both schools. Appeals can be made to the district and finally the school board.
Board members said the policy should not be misconstrued as an "open transfer" policy but is one that takes into account special circumstances and allows the transfer of relatively few students. The board plans to review the volume of transfers monthly.
On other matters, the board heard a plea by Salt Lake City Mayor Palmer DePaulis for the school board's financial support of the construction of a $2.1 million pool on Guardsman Way next to Sunnyside Park.
DePaulis said the project has his "unqualified support" and would be a quality asset to the city.
Salt Lake City has pledged $700,000 for the indoor/outdoor swimming facility. The taxpayer group pushing the project, called the Salt Lake Recreation Center, has also raised $500,000 from the Salt Lake-based Steiner Corporation, $100,000 from the George and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation and $7,000 in other private gifts.
Center president Kimball Young asked the school district to use part of its recreation levy to help pay for the project. He suggested that the district use the $150,000 that went to the South High pool for its contribution. Literature he passed out to the board said if the district contributes, the district would own one-third of the facility and have no operations and maintenance responsibility.
The board took no action on the proposal but asked the district staff to evaluate and report back at a future meeting.