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Schools Choice Law Goes Annual

If you “choiced” your children into a Central Valley school this year, and they make it past the magic day, you will never have to go through the paperwork again.

Children from outside a school’s normal attendance boundaries who choose to attend that school, and who made it past the official cutoff date of Oct. 15, become residents of their chosen school. They can stay in that elementary school until it’s time for junior high. Then they may attend the junior high and high school attended by children from their chosen school. That’s true today and has been since the choice law passed the Legislature several years ago.

But no more, after this year.

The Central Valley School Board decided this week that choice students will have to apply year by year. The 400 or so children currently enrolled in Central Valley’s elementary schools under the state’s choice law will be grandfathered in under the old policy. The new policy will kick in next year.

The news did not bring any joy to Sami Perry, a mother who helped bring the issue to the district’s attention in the first place.

The Perry family lives within the current boundaries for Chester Elementary School.

Perry’s son, a second-grader at Chester Elementary School, is among dozens of children who will shift from Chester to Ponderosa Elementary School. The change is coming because boundary lines were redrawn for the new Liberty Lake Elementary School.

“Do we take our chances annually (choicing him) with Chester? Or do we place him in Ponderosa?” Perry mused.

When new boundary lines were proposed last year, Perry and other parents wanted their children to stay at Chester. But the number of students who had gained permanent seats at Chester by choicing in made it unlikely that there would be room for Perry’s son.

“We as a group had a lot to do with this. We lost the boundary, then we got booted out of our school,” Perry said. “Now we can choice them, but we have no guarantee.”

During discussion of the issue at the school board’s meeting on Monday, board member Cynthia McMullen suggested giving resident status to those children who are choiced into schools because of day care.

She was outvoted, 4-1, on the idea.

Ninety-five percent of the primary students who are enrolled under the choice law are there because of day care, said Carol Peterson, director of elementary education.

, DataTimes

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