St. Charles Parish’s public school district has taken measures toward potentially allowing the children of school personnel residing outside of the parish to attend its schools, starting in the 2021-2022 school year.
At last month’s meeting of the St. Charles Parish School Board on Feb. 24, the board unanimously voted to move forward on consideration of two policy revisions that would open the door to allow certificated employees to register non-resident PreK through 12th grade students in their school of choice, provided adequate space and staffing is available. The two revisions earned the green light to move forward for a first reading.
The revisions will be brought before the board in March for a second reading and, if approved then, the changes will be effective for the next school year.
The measure was brought for consideration in an effort to bolster recruiting measures for district staff and educators, as well as to effectively retain those within its current ranks. School district spokeswoman Stevie Crovetto said St. Charles Parish has felt the effects of a growing shortage of teachers nationwide.
“Like most districts across the state and the country, the school system is feeling the effects of the growing national teacher shortage and the consequent challenge to hire certificated teachers,” said district spokeswoman Stevie Crovetto. “The biggest impacts of the shortage are being felt at the middle and high school level and in the special education area.”
Crovetto noted the number of students studying the teaching profession at the university level continues to decline, and that’s led to a decreased pool of potential candidates for hire.
Under the proposal, those district employees enrolling their children via the new provision would pay $1,000 per child to help offset educational costs. Transportation would not be provided, and before and after school child care would be offered assuming space is available. Non-resident students would only be able to participate in face-to-face learning, again provided that space is available.
The estimated cost of the measure is $280,000.
The employees would be required to seek authorization from the child welfare and attendance office and meet the employee out of attendance zone waiver requirements. Acceptance into the PK4 program is required as well for whom it applies.
Previously, the requirements for out-of-district students to attend St. Charles schools was that the public school in which the student was most recently enrolled. or would otherwise attend, received a school performance letter grade of D or F for the most recent school year, and that the St. Charles district have sufficient capacity at the appropriate grade level.
Certificated employees are defined as those who hold a teaching or school leadership certificate. Any non-resident student would be required to abide by LHSAA regulations if choosing to play sports.
It comes on the heels of a study by the school district’s human resource department regarding the feasibility of allowing staff to enroll their out-of-district children, estimating potential participation and costs that would be associated with the move. The school board requested the study in the Spring of 2020. Crovetto said the study determined that allowing the practice would be both sustainable and beneficial for the school system, and would create a competitive edge in recruitment and retention efforts.
“It is of benefit to not only those employees, but for all students and families as it enhances our ability to hire and keep the best and brightest educators to teach our students and prepare them for the future. We are fortunate to be in the position where attending our school system is an attractive offer to potential and current educators,” she said.
The study estimated that approximately 75 non-resident students could be added parish-wide, potentially, under the new format.
The school system receives funding from several difference sources, including the federal government, state government, local sales and property tax and grants. Crovetto noted the $1,000 fee would help offset some, but not all costs, as it is unlikely Minimum Foundation Program funding would follow the students from out of parish.