Parents registering students in one of the four local school districts for next school year may find the process a little easier thanks to collaborative efforts supported by BEST (Building Educational Success Together) and the districts superintendents.
The four superintendents have been working as a subcommittee of BEST since the beginning of the school year to address a series common issues. And among the first of those issues they have tackled is streamlining their registration processes.
The goal is to make registration a more consistent and friendly process for all students in all four of the partner districts, explained Todd Koehl, Ed.D., superintendent of OFallon Dist. 90. And one of the things we would like to do is ... make it uniform across all four school districts.
A child registering in one of the elementary districts would have a very different experience registering at the high school so we want greater consistency. And families will now find the same language at each district their students attend, he said.
Registration is one of three priorities established by BEST, a committee of educators and community members that since 2006 has been working to facilitate communication between District 203, its feeder school districts, and their communities..., during a retreat last July.
It also has identified as priorities coordinating and synchronizing curriculum across the districts to create seamless and enhanced grade-to-grade transitions while avoiding redundancies and implementing consistent safety and emergency procedures across districts ... with unified planning and enhanced resource deployment.
We are trying to all get on the same page with common practices, procedures and requirements so parents have the same experience when they register at one school in the OFallon and Shiloh community and when they register at OTHS, said Darcy Benway, Ed.D., superintendent of District 203, discussing the subcommittees work with her school board in January.
It is frustrating for parents when they go from district to district and find out what they can and cannot do, she said.
Benway said the collaborative effort has resulted in two main changes to the registration process followed by the four districts. The first relates to verification of residency at enrollment. The second establishes common rules for charging tuition to students who are in the process of moving into a district but who are not yet residents of the district when the school year begins.
Explaining the first change, Benway said, We have found students are really trying to get into our doors and the trickery they use is increasing. We are trying to tighten up on the documentation being used to establish residency so we know we are serving the children we are supposed to be serving.
Koehl noted it would be nice if a system could be developed to allow a family that had verified residency in one of the elementary districts to then register a student at the high school without having to go through the same residency verification process.
You could give them a pass that says I have already checked-in at an elementary district and I dont need to go through all of this again, he said.
Discussing tuition, Benway said, We have tried to come up with a consistent policy from district to district that is fair and would allow a student to enroll whose family is moving into a district but has not completed the move.
She offered as an example a family that may be building a house that is not ready for occupancy by the time the school year begins.
Because they are not yet residents, before we would allow the student to start school he or she would be accountable for some level of tuition until they do establish residency, she said.
Benway explained OTHS has not charged tuition is such situations in the past but at least one elementary district does, while another has refused to enroll such students until residency can be established.
She then introduced for the boards consideration a revised school district policy that would establish a tuition to cover OTHS students in this situation.
During Mondays Central Dist. 104 school board meeting, Superintendent John Bute introduced the same policy for its members to consider, along with a draft of the newly-agreed-upon common residency requirements all districts will use from now on.
BEST began tackling the issues involved with curriculum coordination in January. Safety issues will be on its agenda in the future
Noting the four school districts have made a commitment to collaborate, Shiloh District 85 Superintendent Dale Sauer said, There has been a great deal of commitment by the leadership and the boards of these four districts to get something done in regards to helping all of our students.