Define improves.

Why? Who cares what improves means? FCPS does! Your yokels received in their hot inboxes today an email to let us know the joyous news that the out of district application process has been improved!! Woohoo! Sounds fantastic.

Whom is this easier for?

Current process: submit application for out of district transfer. Once approved, you are done until your child finishes his/her stay at said institution. So if you get an out of district approval for your kindergartner, you are good until your child is ready to go to middle school. If you need to go out of district for middle school, you will have to submit a new application. Pretty simple.

New process: submit an application every year that your child will be out of district. Whoa, as a parent your work just increased! FCPS your workload just increased! By a whole lot. Per the FAQ published by FCPS, there are about 3000 out of district transfers in the system.

The same FAQ says:

FCPS found that the old procedures lacked a way for parents and administrators to regularly track and review how well out-of-district transfers were working for students. This meant that once a student received an out-of-district transfer, they often moved through their school years without a review by parents, teachers, and administrators of how well their transfer was serving them and meeting their changing needs. Accordingly, FCPS is clarifying, modernizing, and streamlining its procedures on out-of-district transfers.

Here’s an idea. How about instead of penalizing the families that were previously told they only had to apply once, making a policy for school administrators to be able to review the children enrolled via exception and make a decision at the school level as to whether their exception will continue to be improved. And how about publishing those criteria? Perhaps include grade requirements or behavior standards that students must meet or jeopardize their exception status? Putting the decision for the annual approval back to the main office seems inefficient and impersonal.

We yokels feel like we know what is really going on here. FCPS is trying to avoid redistricting. So many of our schools across the county have exploding enrollment. Remember whom to thank for that exploding enrollment when you see them around town. Your former BOCC president Blaine “$60” Young, and former commissioners and current council members Billy Shreve and Kirby Delauter. Why is this their fault?  They are the ones that lifted the building moratorium previously put in place by Jan Gardener. Thanks to them we have more, more, more houses going up regardless of inadequate roads and schools to support the increase. Go ahead and thank Tony, too. He doesn’t think there are any traffic issues in Urbana.

On the one hand, we are thankful that FCPS is trying to help ease overcrowding without putting everyone through a painful redistricting process. On the other hand, we think this new “improvement” is not ideal.

Please FCPS consider instituting rules for keeping your out of district status.  Allow the administration at your out of district school to make the decision about your continued approval. Or make a grandfather clause. FCPS also needs to provide clarification regarding the magnet program. Do families in magnet need to reapply every year as well? What about high school kids in academies? What about IB? Do those 3000 out of district students include elementary magnet, and high school academy attendees including IB?Don’t penalize those who are following the previously established rules.