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Window to switch schools in Gainesville narrows next year
'Choice enrollment' form must be turned in from Jan. 11-22
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Gainesville families who wish to transfer their children to a different city school next year should take note of a few adjustments.

The Gainesville school system is making a few changes to its transfer policies, according to Priscilla Collins, chief professional services officer for the district.

Collins said the system is changing the dates for “choice enrollment,” or the time when families can request a transfer for the next school year.

The choice enrollment window this year is smaller than in years past, which allowed forms to be returned in January and February. For the 2016-2017 school year, families have two weeks from Jan. 11-22 to turn in their choice enrollment forms. “One of the changes we want to make is in regards to transfers, that transfers be honored for the upcoming school year,” Collins said Monday at a Gainesville school board meeting. “Students would be automatically assigned to the school in which they are currently enrolled if their choice forms are not returned.”

Collins said another change is requests to transfer during the school year can only be made if the family moves to another Gainesville school attendance zone, and such transfers depend on “space availability.”

“Space does not necessarily just mean classroom space,” Superintendent Wanda Creel added. “It could mean a pupil-teacher ratio or teacher availability as well, because we’re already in the school year, so hiring a teacher based on students moving from one place to another is not something that we would consider.”

Creel said the high number of students in the system and lack of space are factors that led to the change of policy. The system has also been reviewing and revising all its policies over the last year.

The city’s middle and high school transfer policies changed slightly, as well.

Previously, middle school students could request to transfer to Wood’s Mill Academy, which served sixth- through 12th-grade students. The school moved, was renamed Wood’s Mill High School and now serves ninth- through 12th-grade students only, so Gainesville Middle School students cannot request a transfer.

At the high school, students can request a transfer from Gainesville High to Wood’s Mill High during the choice enrollment period this January. Requests can also be made during the school year, with the approval of parents and administrators, but the transfer is only made at the beginning of a semester.

Transfers to Wood’s Mill can also be made if the student is a senior in danger of not graduating on time.

Previously, such decisions were made following a consultation, but the updated policy requires the decision of an “academic achievement team,” or the student and his or her administrators, parents, counselors and teachers.

The final decision in such a case is made by Creel or a designee she might appoint.

These changes are available to view online at the district’s eBoard site, under the “policies” tab.