Students who want to transfer to a school outside of their home attendance zone beginning in the fall of 2017 face several changes to the transfer process, according to a Las Cruces Public Schools (LCPS) press release.
LCPS officials said transfer applications are being accepted through March 1. However, unlike in previous years, transfers will not be determined on a first-come-first-served basis.
“There’s a clear outline in state law as to which students get a higher preference when wanting to transfer,” said Wendi Miller-Tomlinson, LCPS director of secondary instruction. “We will follow that outline closer than ever before when prioritizing the applications later in the spring.”
Transfer applications for elementary and middle school students are processed through the school principal, while high school transfers are submitted to Miller-Tomlinson. Her office is in the Department of Instruction at the LCPS Administration Building, 505 S. Main, Loretto Towne Centre.
In the release, Miller-Tomlinson said hundreds of applications are submitted each school year. Parents must indicate if their transfer request is based on the criteria outlined in state law. The law indicates the first two preferences are given to students who live in the attendance zone and then to those who attend an “F-rated” school, as determined by the NM Public Education Department.
The third priority for a transfer is whether a student previously attended the school of their choice. The fourth priority gives preference to students of military families, whether class sizes are not being exceeded, and if there is space available at the other school.
“If the district has more applications than there is space, we plan to closely follow the state law as to whose application is approved first and who has to be placed on a waiting list,” said Erlinda Martinez, associate superintendent for instruction in the press release.
The four comprehensive high schools have different population sizes, and Miller-Tomlinson said those enrollment figures fluctuate depending on how many students transfer in and out. However, the number of approved transfers is scrutinized based on whether the school has the physical space for additional students and whether the school’s teaching staff is adequate for the number of students.
“A capacity issue is an important criterion when deciding how many students can leave or enter a school outside of their attendance zone,” Miller-Tomlinson said in the release. “We don’t want a school’s program to be over-burdened and, viceversa, a school’s enrollment can’t be depleted. A balance is important.”
After all transfer requests have been considered and there is still space remaining at a school, Miller-Tomlinson said additional requests will be approved through a random selection until all slots are filled. This differs from previous years when the requests were approved based on the date and time of their filing.
Miller-Tomlinson said another important change to the transfer process is the disclosure by middle school and high school families as to whether a student is, or plans to be, enrolled in athletics. There are specific steps for such families, said Miller-Tomlinson.
“The parents of student athletes or potential athletes must meet with the director of athletics before their transfer application is accepted,” Miller-Tomlinson said. “We simply want to ensure that families understand the rules — local rules and those by the New Mexico Activities Association — before they request a new school.”
According to the release, another recent change affects students currently enrolled in a school under a previously approved transfer application. Those students need not apply again unless the student is moving from an elementary to a middle school or from a middle school to a high school, she said.
Application approvals will occur after March 1.