Bay District school board members hammered out details Wednesday afternoon for a new school choice policy.
A lot of parents send their children to schools out of zone. Most do so because they want their kids to take part in specialized programs, like Rutherford’s IB program, Mapps at Mosley or the AICE program at Bay High.
But budget cuts are forcing district officials to rezone, re-purpose and even close some schools. That means the school choice policy will have to change to prevent overcrowding at some facilities.
Some board members expressed interest in cutting out school choice altogether for that reason.
"Those kids who go to the Mapps program at Mosley out-of-zone I think is wrong. I think if the AICE program at Bay High is not meeting their needs, we need to alter the program," said Jerry Register, Bay County School Board member.
School board members decided on a compromise plan that caps the number of students enrolled in these types of special programs. Only 10% of all the 9th grade students admitted into the Mosley Mapps program or the Arnold collegiate studies program can be from out of zone.
School board members hope this will solve the overcrowding problem.
"The last thing I believe this board wants to do is move portables into a school to have a special program. That makes no sense. That is in effect what has happened at the Mapps program at Mosley because we've let it go, not unchecked, but we've had open enrollment is what we've had," said Donna Allen, Bay Co. School Board member.
Just because your child is attending an out of zone school now doesn't mean they'll get to stay there. Students entering their final year in a particular school can remain. But others will have to fill out a school choice selection card. District officials will then make decisions based on capacity.
District officials can also make exceptions for families claiming a hardship and students who already have a sibling attending out of zone. But these too will be based on availability.
The school district has to advertise the new school choice proposal for 30 days before board members take a final vote.
To see the entire revised policy log onto the bay district schools website.