H. B. 2353
(By Delegates Caputo and Fragale)
[Introduced January 12, 2011; referred to the
Committee on Education then Finance.]
A BILL to amend and reenact §18-5-16 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, relating to allowing the State Superintendent of Schools to designate a certain geographical area as a "School Choice Zone."
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §18-5-16 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
ARTICLE 5. COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION.
§18-5-16. Student transfers; legislative findings; appeals; calculating net enrollment; fees for transfer.
(a) County districts and school attendance. -- The county board may divide the county into such districts as are necessary to determine the schools the students of its county shall attend. Upon the written request of any parent or guardian, or person legally responsible for any student, or for reasons affecting the best interests of the schools, the superintendent may transfer students from one school to another within the county. Any aggrieved person may appeal the decision of the county superintendent to the county board, and the decision of the county board shall be final.
(b) Transfers between counties; legislative findings. --
(1) Transfers of students from one county to another may be made by the county board of the county in which the student desiring to be transferred resides. The transfer shall be subject to the approval of both the board of the county in which the student resides and the board to which the student wishes to be transferred.
(2) Legislative findings. -- Over the past several years, counties have been forced to close a number of schools because of declining student enrollment. School officials predict that an additional eighteen percent loss in enrollment may occur between 2002 and 2012. This continued decrease in the number of students enrolled in the public schools of the state may result in more instances of consolidation which will increase the problem of long bus rides for students if they remain in a school in their county of residence.
Therefore, the Legislature makes the following findings:
(A) County lines may impede the effective and efficient delivery of education services;
(B) Students often must endure long bus rides to a school within their county of residence when a school in an adjacent county is a fraction of the distance away;
(C) The wishes of parents or guardians to have their children transferred to a county other than their county of residence should be considered by the county boards; and
(D) Where counties cannot agree, it is necessary to establish a process to determine when transfers are appropriate.
(3) The state board shall establish a process whereby a parent or guardian of a student may appeal the refusal of a county board to enter into an agreement to transfer or accept the transfer of the student.
(A) The process shall designate the state superintendent to hear the appeal. In determining whether to overturn a decision of a county board, the state superintendent shall consider such factors as the following:
(i) Travel time for the student;
(ii) Impact on levies or bonds;
(iii) Other financial impact on the county of residence; and
(iv) Such other factors as the state superintendent may determine.
(B) If, during the appeal process, the state superintendent discovers that the education and the welfare of students in the transferring county could be enhanced, the state superintendent may direct that students may be permitted to attend a school in another county.
(C) If multiple appeals are received from the same geographical area of a county, the state superintendent may impose on the receiving county restrictions including, but not limited to, requiring the receiving county to accept all students in that geographical area of the sending county who wish to transfer to the receiving county designate that geographical area a school choice zone, and any student residing in the school choice zone may transfer from the sending county to the receiving county if the student wishes.
(D) If a student is transferred on either a full-time or a part-time basis without the agreement of both boards by official action as reflected in the minutes of their respective meetings and if the student's parent or guardian fails to appeal or loses the appeal under the process established in subdivision (3) of this subsection, the student shall be counted only in the net enrollment of the county in which the student resides. If a student transfers to a receiving county after his or her area of residence has been designated a school choice zone, the student shall be counted in the net enrollment of the receiving county.
(4) If, after two county boards have agreed to a transfer arrangement for a student or after a student transferred pursuant to a school choice zone designation, that student chooses to return to a school in his or her county of residence after the second month of any school year, the following shall apply:
(A) The county of residence may issue an invoice to the county from which the student transferred for the amount, determined on a pro rata basis, that the county of residence otherwise would have received under the state basic foundation program established in article nine-a of this chapter; and
(B) The county from which the student transferred shall reimburse the county of residence for the amount of the invoice.
(c) Transfers between high schools. -- In any county where a high school is maintained, but topography, impassable roads, long bus rides or other conditions prevent the practicable transportation of any students to such high school, the board may transfer them to a high school in an adjoining county. In any such case, the county boards may enter into an agreement providing for the payment of the cost of transportation, if any, of the students.
(d) Transfers between states. -- Transfer of students from this state to another state shall be upon such terms as shall be mutually agreed upon by the board of the transferring county and the authorities of the school to which the transfer is made.
(e) No A parent, guardian or person acting as parent or guardian shall may not be required to pay for the transfer of a student or for the tuition of the student after the transfer when such transfer is carried out under the terms of this section.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to allow the State Superintendent of Schools to designate certain geographical areas as a School Choice Zone which would enable students residing in the designated area to attend school in a neighboring county if they wish.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.