The Smyrna School Board approved the first reading of a school choice policy revision at the July 11 reorganization meeting.
The policy change comes as a result of the Delaware General Assembly passing House Bill 90, which amends the Delaware Code relating to school choice. According to the bill, it is the goal of the Delaware General Assembly to "increase access to educational opportunity for all children throughout the State regardless of where they live."
The bill standardizes the application forms and deadlines across traditional and charter schools. It allows districts to request supplemental application information from choice students only to the extent of what's required of students in the attendance zones, limits the supplemental criteria a receiving district may use to evaluate choice applications, and removes the provision that allows districts to reject applications of students with special needs. Districts are also required to accept choice students until each school is at 85 percent capacity.
Once a district has admitted all qualifying students, they shall use a lottery process to admit more students and generate a ranked waiting list; the waiting list will be maintained by the receiving district until June 30.
Under the bill, districts are required to hold a public information meeting about choice and enrollment opportunities by Oct. 31. Then the district needs to report their estimated capacity and projected enrollment to the Department of Education by Nov. 30.
Smyrna School District Assistant Superintendent Patrik Williams went over the changes with the school board at the July 11 meeting. He said the revised policy will include giving priority to siblings of students returning to the school. The bill also requires students who have been suspended or expelled to have a letter of eligibility from their previous school before being admitted to their choice school.
"For example, a student is suspended the last five days of the school year and wants to choice here in Smyrna, they have to bring us a letter they are eligible to return to their district at the start of the next school year," Williams said.
In regards to the district allowing choice students until a school is at their 85 percent threshold, Williams said three of the four elementary schools are already at 85 percent capacity.
Meeting list approved
The Smyrna School Board approved their board meeting dates and places for the upcoming year at their July 11 meeting. Meetings begin at 7 p.m. The meetings are as follows:
- Wednesday, Aug. 21 at the Central Office
- Wednesday, Sept. 18 at Clayton Elementary
- Wednesday, Oct. 16 at North Smyrna Elementary
- Wednesday, Nov. 20 at Smyrna Elementary School
- Monday, Dec. 16 at Sunnyside Elementary School
- Monday, Jan. 13 at JBM Intermediate School
- Wednesday, Feb. 19 at Clayton Intermediate School
- Wednesday, March 19 at Smyrna Middle School
- Wednesday, April 16 at Smyrna High School
- Wednesday, May 14 at the Central Office
- Wednesday, June 18 at the Central Office
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