by Paul Bowers
Few sane people would go into public school teaching for the professional perks, but in Charleston County School District, there has traditionally been at least one benefit to the job: Teachers had first dibs on transferring their children to different schools.
But starting in the 2014-2015 school year, the rules for voluntary transfers are changing. In past years, teachers could apply to move their children to a school outside of their attendance zone on a first-come-first-served basis. For instance, if a teacher lived in the Ladson Elementary attendance zone but worked at Military Magnet Academy, she could apply to have her child attend Burns Elementary, closer to her workplace. Under the old system for voluntary transfers, teachers took priority over all other district employees.
Under the new system, which was announced to teachers in an e-mail last week, first-come-first-served is no longer the law of the land. Now, all CCSD employees, including teachers, are given first priority when applying for transfers. The new hierarchy for accepting applications is as follows:
1) Applications from all CCSD employees
2) Applications from siblings already attending the receiving school
3) Applications from within the Constituent District
4) Applications from other Constituent Districts (approved by sending district)
5) Applications from outside Charleston County (approved by sending district)
This year, parents must apply for transfers by Mon. March 31. In order to qualify, the parent must be able to provide transportation, and the receiving school must have space available (click here to see capacity data for the schools).
When it comes to transfers, options are limited. Magnet schools and partial magnet schools are ineligible for transfers, and most schools have no seats available for transfer requests. For instance, the only high schools with seats available for voluntary transfers are Lincoln Middle-High (288 seats), St. John's High (297 seats), and West Ashley High (480).
Application information can be found on the CCSD website. A document from the school district explains what happens once applications have been received:
"If the number of applications exceeds the number of seats available at the school, the children of employees will be placed on the Enrollment List first. If the number of seats is less than the number of applications in this group, then a lottery will determine the order of CCSD employee children's applications on the Enrollment List."
Students will either be accepted for a transfer or placed on a waiting list.
District spokesman Jason Sakran says the school board decided on the policy change in a vote. He encourages parents to check the school capacity data before applying for a transfer.
"If you are a parent wanting to send your child to Laurel Hill [Primary School] or Cario [Middle School], I can tell you right now that they're already at capacity," Sakran says. "Your voluntary transfer request will likely be denied, mainly because they can't keep up with the folks that are zoned for that school."