COLUMBIA — Elementary school students and parents looking to transfer to a school meeting federally mandated progress standards have two options this year: Midway Heights or Two Mile Prairie elementary schools.
Elementary school students whose public schools have not met Adequate Yearly Progress standards have the option to switch to a school that met the standards. But as more students transfer, space in the AYP-qualified schools decreases.
"(Midway and Two Mile Prairie) are open right now available for transfers," said Peter Stiepleman, assistant superintendent of elementary education for the Columbia Public School District.
According to a previous Missourian article, all seven of Columbia's Title I schools failed to meet AYP standards for the third year in a row. Benton and Blue Ridge elementary schools now face corrective action after falling short for four years. Title I schools receive federal funding because at least 40 percent of their students receive free or discount lunches.
Alpha Hart Lewis and Parkade elementary schools will undergo restructuring, which allows students the option to transfer schools.
Last year, Ridgeway Elementary School was also an option for transfer. But large class sizes caused parents to question whether the transfers would disrupt the individual attention emphasized in the magnet school.
As a consequence of the larger class sizes, it is no longer an option.
"Ridgeway is a school that did meet AYP and would be an option except for its class sizes are too big," Stiepleman said. "As well as Mill Creek. They have class sizes that are too large right now for us to consider them open for school choice."
New Haven Elementary School was an option last year but is also no longer because it did not meet AYP in 2010. Students who transferred to New Haven last year will still be bused there at district expense. Last year, the district spent $300,000 to transport transfer students and expects to spend at least that much this year, district spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark said.
Another concern is the correlation between class size and learning environment.
"Class size is always an issue," Baumstark said. "The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education set maximum levels (for classroom size) that are conducive to good learning. That's why there are only two schools available."
Baumstark said as classrooms continue to gain more students the influx of transfer students is much more manageable this year as opposed to last year, when students were moved after school started.
"The MAP results came out sooner this year, which has been more helpful dealing with mobility," she said. "We're able to handle that type of movement earlier in the year, which is better for our students to do it before school starts."