By Carolyn Bahm
Policies are the strong underpinnings of a school district, and the Arlington school board framed some key ones on Feb. 13, when they were publicly read for the first time. The second reading and final approval are expected at the Feb. 25 special-called meeting.
The policies include:
- Attendance of non-resident students
- Transfers within the system
- An inter-local agreement with the Lakeland School System.
- Parameters for a school calendar (the actual calendar will be discussed at an upcoming meeting)
This policy states that students living outside the boundaries of the Arlington Community School System can attend Arlington schools on a space-available basis if they meet five criteria:
- Approval by the superintendent or her designee.
- Personal transportation arrangements (non-residents are ineligible for school transportation).
- Annual non-resident attendance application by April 15. This ensures the highest priority for the student. Later applicants will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
- (For in-state, out-of-county students not in the Arlington School District): There is a maximum to the annual tuition and fees charged to attend Arlington schools. It can’t exceed the average amount the district raises and uses per student. Any such tuition payment will be reduced by the amount transferred by the student’s county of residence under state law. Moving to Arlington will earn these students a pro-rated refund. A full or partial failure to pay excludes the student from future attendance until payment is made.
- (For out-of-state students): They will pay the average cost per student (state and local funds). The same stipulations about moving to Arlington or failing to pay will apply (see above).
The priorities for non-resident students are, from highest to lowest:
- Children impacted by educational Cooperative/Inter-local Agreements with other school systems.
- Children of employees of Arlington Community Schools, including feeder school patterns.
- Children who can provide documentation of an exit grade transfer approval issued by Shelby County Schools to the requested school of attendance.
- Children currently enrolled in Arlington schools for the 2013-2014 school year as a result of previous attendance zones.
- Children of non-residents who have siblings attending Arlington schools.
- Children of employees of Arlington businesses.
- Children of Shelby County parents who do not live in the school district.
- Children of in-state, out-of-county parents.
- Children of out-of-state parents.
Non-resident applicants can be rejected if they don’t demonstrate satisfactory academic, discipline and attendance records.
Transfers within the school district
Parents can request that their children attend an Arlington school other than the one to which the child is zoned. Currently, this applies only to elementary schools, as the district only has one middle and one high school. If approved by the superintendent, the student’s family will be responsible for his/her transportation.
Once the school year begins, students will not be able to transfer to a different school in the system unless there is a changer of residence or the parent successfully appeals to the school board within the first 10 days of the school year.
The policy describes the basics: A school year of 200 days with 180 as student attendance days, a minimum five days of in-service education and 10 days of paid vacation for certified personnel, and four discretionary days.
The actual school calendar for the district’s first year will be discussed at an upcoming board meeting and is expected to closely follow the calendar for Shelby County Schools.
The actual school calendar for the district’s first year will be discussed at an upcoming board meeting and is expected to closely follow that of Shelby County Schools.
Inter-local agreement with Lakeland
This agreement confirms arrangements for Lakeland students to attend middle and high school in the Arlington district. If it receives final approval, the inter-local agreement will start March 1 and continue for seven years. The following applies to Lakeland students enrolled or eligible for enrollment in the following grades:
- High school (grades nine-12): Will receive Arlington educational services.
- Middle school (sixth grade): Will receive Arlington educational services.
- Middle school (seventh grade): Will receive Arlington educational services with the following exception. Lakeland students living within the 2013-2014 Shelby County School Attendance Zone for Bon Lin Middle School will continue to attend that school for the 2014-2015 year but will be prioritized to receive Arlington educational services on a space-available basis. In subsequent years, all Lakeland students going into the seventh grade will receive Arlington educational services.
- Middle school (eighth grade): Will receive Arlington educational services with the following exception. Lakeland students living within the 2013-2014 Shelby County School Attendance Zone for Bon Lin Middle School will continue to attend that school for the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 school years but will be prioritized to receive Arlington educational services on a space-available basis. In subsequent years, all Lakeland students going into the eighth grade will receive Arlington educational services.
- Elementary school: Lakeland students living in the 2013-2014 Shelby County School Attendance Zone for Donelson Elementary School will continue receiving Arlington educational services. All other Lakeland elementary students will receive Lakeland educational services.
The Arlington school board will directly receive the federal, state and county school operational funding for each Lakeland student enrolled in Arlington schools per this agreement. The Lakeland board also agrees to pay the Arlington board a per-student “seat fee.” This amount must be equivalent to the Arlington per-student local contribution required by the Tennessee State Board of Education. The fee will be recalculated yearly after the close of the school year and will be based on Arlington’s final annual 180-school-day average daily membership totals. Payment is due within 45 days after the final enrollment calculations are completed and verified.
The Lakeland board will also be responsible for a proportional share of the cost if portable classrooms are needed to relieve overcrowding.
The agreement also applies reciprocally for any Arlington student who receives Lakeland educational services.