This year, the San Bruno Park School District had 277 students that transferred to schools outside of the district.
That's about 100 more students that have left the district than in years past, and the reasons vary: Perhaps a school outside of the city offered better childcare, a child needed to be removed because of conflicts with other students, or the family was moving.
While every family has the right to send their children to whatever school will provide them the best education and they are allowed leave the school district, if approved, some have recently begun to criticize San Bruno Park’s transfer policy. Those critics say the district allows way too many students to leave San Bruno without considering the effects on the schools, which are currently facing ongoing cuts because of funding shortages.
The question about transfer students because parents wanted to see the numbers behind the district’s stance that schools were suffering from declining enrollment.
When asked about the school district’s stance on transfer students, Superintendent David Hutt said the district follows the policy set by the school board, which states, “The Governing Board recognizes that students who reside in one district may choose to attend school in another district and that such choices are made for a variety of reason.”
Hutt added that when a parent submits an application to leave the school district, he must specify the reason for wanting to leave. If the district finds the reason acceptable, then it will acknowledge the request to transfer to another school district, as long as there is room.
“Each of the reasons defined by the School Board acknowledges a level of ‘family choice,’” Hutt said in an email. “And while (the district) provides an excellent education to students, there are certain circumstances where an accommodation is available.”
A closer look at a recent report about the district’s transfers provides more explanation about why students are leaving San Bruno:
- A student has been attending a school outside of San Bruno and wants to continue her education at that school
- A student wants to finish the eighth grade at a school outside of San Bruno
- The other school offers a special program such as a foreign language class
- The other school provides childcare
- The family is moving to another city
- The child is having social and emotional problems at a school in San Bruno
Only one student’s request to transfer outside of the district was denied this year.
The downside to having so many students want to attend schools outside of San Bruno, some say, is that when it is time for a child to attend middle school, Parkside Intermediate—the city’s only middle school—gets left behind.
“When you say that Parkside is the place that you want all the kids in San Bruno to go to—that’s been built to give the best education possible—why are 270 students allowed to leave the district?” Dan Lyttle, Parkside’s assistant principal said. “Some are legit. I get it. But 270 students are leaving the district and not coming eventually through Parkside. So what do you really value?”
When asked why the district allows so many students to leave the district and whether the number of students leaving was uncommon, Hutt didn’t respond.