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Transfer law might affect 19 Bibb schools

About half of Bibb County schools are eligible for students to transfer into this fall under a new state law, Bibb County school officials estimated Monday.

House Bill 251 takes effect Wednesday and requires school systems to notify parents about the option.

The law allows students to transfer to another school in their district as long as it’s not new or over capacity.

According to the school system’s preliminary list, the following 19 schools appear to be eligible to take transfers:

Barden, Brookdale, Burdell-Hunt, Burghard, Carter, Hartley, Heard, Jones, King-Danforth, Morgan, Rice, Riley, Springdale, Taylor and Williams elementary schools; Appling, Miller and Weaver middle schools and Northeast High School.

The law was meant to give parents more public school choice.

But with stipulations, it ruled out several options in Bibb County, such as six high schools, including Howard High and the newly rebuilt Central and Southwest high schools, as well as Bloomfield Middle and Ballard-Hudson Middle schools, which opened four years ago or less.

“I think it offers another means of choice,” said Sylvia McGee, Bibb’s deputy superintendent of student support services. “In some ways it duplicates what we’ve done through magnets and majority to minority transfers.”

About 50 Bibb parents already have visited the system’s enrollment office to apply for the transfer, McGee said.

House Bill 251 transfer applications will be available starting July 10 at all schools and at the system’s central office at 484 Mulberry St., fourth floor.

Parents can also pick one up at the Hutchings Career Center annex at 2011-F Riverside Drive or get one online at www.bibb.k12.ga.us.

Parents have until July 29 to submit a transfer request. Notification letters about transfer acceptance will be mailed to parents by Sept. 4.

“This could delay the actual settling of where students are (at the beginning of school),” McGee said. “That’s the biggest impact.”

The transfers could also require teachers to be shuffled during the school year.

Because school officials have to consider who will show up at school in their assigned school zones on the first day, Aug. 6, as well as other factors such as No Child Left Behind transfers, school officials say the final list of eligible schools is subject to change.

A final list would be available Aug. 24.

Students still can apply to 10 schools now projected over capacity, such as Westside High, Rutland High, Howard Middle and Skyview Elementary, which officials say are subject to change next month.

A random lottery would be held Sept. 1 if needed at some schools. All students using the transfer would need to be in the transfer school by Sept. 11.

In other board news:

Ÿ The school board also adopted a 2009-10 school year student code of conduct which addresses new trends such as “sexting.”

School officials make it a level IV offense if students take or send obscene or lewd photos that are sexually explicit via cell phones or other electronic devices. Level IV offenses are punishable by long-term suspension, expulsion or removal to alternative school.

“We’ve had a couple (incidents), but it’s not been an epidemic,” said Rob Sumowski, Bibb’s director of student safety and management. “This was something five years ago none of us thought would be an issue.”

The new code of conduct also reminds students that local law enforcement could charge students caught sexting with child pornography related charges.

New dress code changes also include prohibiting students in class with dyed hair that is not a student’s natural hair color except for on spirit day activities. It prohibits hoodies other than school spirit wear and prohibits students from wearing do rags, caps or curlers at school.

Ÿ The board hired Craig Lockhart, a former Taylor County Elementary school principal, as the assistant superintendent of student support services.

Jeff Homan, a director of professional learning for the Griffin Regional Educational Service Agency, was hired as Central High School principal and Erin Weaver, former principal, will move to Early Childhood programs and intervention.

Ÿ The board also approved Monday sending the state a waiver for its new Ombudsman Alternative Education Program.

On June 18 the school board approved a three-year contract with the Ombudsman program to start an offsite alternative school for Bibb’s over-age and expelled high school students. The program, to start this fall, will cost $2.17 million over three years and enroll 135 students per year.

As part of the program, Ombudsman requires districts that contract with them to complete a waiver to send to the Georgia Department of Education specifying the number of credit hours students will take, number of class periods a student will be scheduled for each day and length of time students are to attend classes.

To contact writer Julie Hubbard, call 744-4331.

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