CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- While it has not yet been decided how -- or if -- South Hills elementary schools will be redistricted, many parents think the county's current transfer policy is at the heart of the problem.
Under Kanawha County Board of Education code, families who move to a different attendance zone may elect to maintain residency in their student's original school.
Upon approval, a student can be deemed a resident of that school's attendance area from then on. Annual renewal of transfer applications is not required.
"In this case, that means anyone that was transferred from an outside school district now has a guaranteed seat, while everyone else is subject to redistricting," said Aaron Alexander, chairman of the Local School Improvement Council and a parent of a student at Overbrook Elementary.
The board is looking into redistricting scenarios after Overbook parents complained that students were surpassing capacity in classrooms and forced to share textbooks and wait in long lunch lines.
Last week, more than 60 parents met with Kanawha County officials to discuss ways that neighboring schools, Kenna and Holz, could pick up some of the surplus.
Though parents are torn on whether a gradual phase-in approach or an all-about change next school year would benefit the children the most, they have reached a consensus on a need for policy reform, Alexander said.
"The only consensus we've reached is that the issue of transfers needs to be reviewed before we do anything. We need to send all of the transfer students back to their residential addresses and recount the numbers," he said.
"When they drew these lines for redistricting, transfer students were counted as in the district, but they can't be because they don't actually live within those lines."
The redistricting proposal would move Overbrook students living at Upper and Lower Ridgeway roads, Lindy Road, Loudon Heights Road and nearby areas to Holz, and residents of Greystone Road, Lakeview Road and Rolling Hills Circle to Kenna.
Assistant Superintendent Jane Roberts told parents at last week's meeting that changing the transfer policy would have little effect on overcrowding.