LAS CRUCES—Students who want to transfer to a school outside of their home attendance zone beginning next school year will face several changes to the transfer process. Las Cruces Public Schools officials said transfer applications are being accepted between February 1 and March 1. However, unlike in previous years, the selection of who is allowed to transfer will not be determined by who fills out the form first.
“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 done 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.
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 that the first two preferences are given to students who live in the attendance zone and then to those who attend a “F” rated school, as determined by the NM Public Education Department.
The third priority for a transfer is whether the student previously attended the school of their choice. Officials said 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.
The four comprehensive high schools have different population sizes. Miller-Tomlinson said those enrollment figures fluctuate depending on how many students transfer in-and-out. However, the number of approved transfers has to 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. “We don’t want a school’s program to be over-burdened and vice-versa, a school’s enrollment can’t be depleted. A balance is important.”
After all the 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 at a school are filled. This also differs from previous year 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 those families to take if their child falls under either option, 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.”
Another recently made change is for a student currently enrolled in a school under a previously approved transfer application. Those students do not need to apply again unless the student is moving from an elementary to a middle school or from a middle school to a high school next school year, she said.
The decision of which applications are approved won’t be made until after all applications are accepted through March 1. An additional change to the district regulation is that the transfer applications will be accepted only one time per year, Feb. 1-March 1, unless there are extenuating circumstances for the family. The spring transfer window will apply to transfers requested for the entire 2017/18 school year.
The transfer application form, called JFB-E1 Request for Change of School Assignment, is online at http://lcps.k12.nm.us/school-board/policies-and-regulations/section-j-students/ or at any school.
—For more information, contact Dr. Wendi Miller-Tomlinson, 575.527.6690, firstname.lastname@example.org