Arlington school trustees OK small change in transfer rules, table the rest

ARLINGTON -- School trustees made a minor change in the district's student transfer policy Thursday night but put off action on broad revisions until a September meeting to allow for more public comment.

The proposals include switching to an online registration process with a lottery to determine transfers to schools with limited space.

The change would end the practice of parents camping out for days or even weeks at the central administration building to get first crack at transfer slots, which become available in early March.

Assistant Superintendent Jimmy Walker said the board could also leave the policy alone and just direct security guards to stop transfer-seekers from lining up early.

Walker also proposed eliminating the $1,898 tuition required of out-of-district students whose parents are not district employees. They would be charged only the $80 fee paid by school employees who transfer their children to the district.

The board approved a small revision meant to ensure that students who have transferred into the district can move up to the next school in their network -- from elementary school to its affiliated junior high, for example -- instead of having to go through the transfer process again.

That protection had existed only for in-district transfer students.

Board Vice President Peter Baron requested the action, saying it would affect only a few students who will be in seventh grade.

"They don't know where they're going to go to school this year," Baron said.

The board also continued working on a proposed 2010-11 general operating budget of $440.1 million, mulling over ways to reduce a projected $10.7 million deficit. District staff has proposed about $4 million in budget savings from cuts and increased fees.

The board has proposed a 6.3-cent increase in the property tax rate that funds bond payments, which would raise the overall property tax rate to $1.335 per $100 of assessed property value. No tax increase for the operations budget has been recommended.

Trustees could vote on a budget and tax rate as soon as next Thursday's meeting, after a required public hearing.