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Gainesville residents get first choice on elementary enrollment
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Gainesville residents will get a two-week head start in January on enrolling their children into the Gainesville elementary school of their choice.

The Gainesville school board adopted a new procedure Monday that will allow the parents of Gainesville school children to enroll kids into any of the school system’s five elementary schools beginning Jan. 15.

That’s two weeks earlier than out-of-city residents.

The Gainesville school system is a system of choice, and allows city residents to select which elementary school they would like their child to attend.

Out-of-city students are able to enroll in the city school system at a cost of $450 per year, and are granted space in the system based on availability.

Merrianne Dyer, superintendent of Gainesville schools, said traditionally, the city system has allowed all potential students to register with the school of their choice during a monthlong open enrollment period in January.

According to the new procedure, city residents will now get a "head start" on enrollment from Jan. 15 to Jan. 29.

On Jan. 29, out-of-city residents will be able to enroll their children.

"This is a big thing, because we’ve not done this before," Dyer said. "... During the budget hearings, some of the city residents said they were unable to attend the schools closest to them because of crowding. This gives city residents first choice."

Dyer said the school board also adopted a new procedure requiring city residents to verify their home address every school year as they enroll students.

Prior to the new procedure approved Monday, city residents were required to verify their address only when they first enrolled a child into the school system, Dyer said.

Dyer also said the school board will hash out the details of possibly increasing out-of-city student tuition at the board’s January work session.

Gainesville school board members also defined some of the items they want Dyer to discuss with local legislators in a meeting with them on Dec. 11.

At the top of the board’s list of pressing concerns is ensuring the state follows through on its promise to provide $100 of funding per student in every charter school system in the state, including Gainesville schools.

The board also was concerned about expanding financial flexibility for school systems and the financial impact proposed school vouchers may have on public schools.