All seven of our school board members unanimously approved a policy change over a year ago (November 28, 2016) that effective January 1, 2017, we are no longer accepting new transfer students, with the following exceptions: children of employees, siblings of current transfer students, resident students that move out of the district, and children of active duty military and disabled veterans.
Here are ten facts regarding transfer students and our school district:
Fact #1 – Transfer students have been enrolled in our school district for at least 50 years.
Fact #2 – Transfer students are enrolled in an overwhelming majority of school districts in Texas, including every school district in Bell County.
Fact #3 – We receive the same amount of annual funding for a student, regardless of whether or not that student lives in our school district.
Fact #4 – The additional expenses generated by our transfer students are far less than the over $2 million in revenue we receive per year from these students. If we had to cut over $2 million from our budget, it would negatively impact the education we provide to all of our students, as we would have to eliminate some curricular and extracurricular programs, reduce the number of teaching positions, and increase class sizes.
Fact #5 – We used to charge an annual fee for transfer students: $750 for the first student in a family, $350 for the second, and $350 for the third (for a maximum of $1,450 per family). These transfer fees caused our district to be “Chapter 41” (property wealthy/Robin Hood) and lose state funding. Chapter 41 status is determined by a district’s taxable value per student and districts that charge transfer fees do not get to count their transfer students in their property value per student calculation. Four years ago we discontinued charging a transfer fee so we are no longer a Chapter 41 district. We are better off financially because the amount of state funding we would lose would be greater than the amount of transfer fees we would collect. When we made that change four years ago, there were 350 districts in Texas that were Chapter 41 and only twelve of those 350 districts charged a transfer fee.
Fact #6 – Transfer students have to re-apply every year. The three criteria that determine whether or not they are allowed to return the next school year are their behavior, attendance, and academics.
Fact #7 – Transfer students do not pay property taxes to our district. However, indirectly they do pay property taxes to our district. Families that own a home in another school district pay property taxes to that district. If they enroll their student in our school district instead of the one they live in, the state funding is reduced for that district and the state funding is increased for our school district. Thus, indirectly (through the state), they do pay property taxes to our district. The same concept applies to people that live in our school district, but rent a house or apartment. They do not property pay taxes directly to our school district, but indirectly (through their landlord) they do pay taxes to our school district.
Fact #8 – The majority of our enrollment growth has been from resident students that live in our school district. Of the additional 506 students our district has grown over the past five years, 410 of them (81 percent) are resident students and 96 of them (19 percent) are transfer students. Out of all 81 school districts in the Waco region (from Salado up to Hillsboro), our enrollment has increased the highest percentage (38 percent) in the last five years. The next four districts with the highest percentage increases are Academy 33 percent, Belton 17 percent, Midway 10 percent, and Killeen 6 percent. Only counting our additional 410 resident students, our enrollment has still increased over 30 percent and we would have the second highest percentage increase out of all 81 school districts.
Fact #9 – As a result of now longer accepting new transfer students this past year (other than the few exceptions listed above), our number of transfer students lowered from 254 last year to 237 this year. Even though we have 17 less transfer students this year, we have 117 more resident students, for a net increase of 100 students this year. Templeton Demographics , a company that does enrollment projections for many districts across the state, including Belton, Academy, Jarrell, and Troy, projects our enrollment to continue to increase by over 100 resident students each year for at least the next ten years.
Fact #10 – The earliest possible time that we could open a new school would be August 2020. At that time the enrollment of only our resident students is projected to be 1,941, which is 87 students above our current enrollment of 1,854, including transfer students. Thus, our need for additional classrooms is based on our rapid increase in resident student enrollment and would exist regardless of whether or not we have transfer students enrolled in our school district.
In summary, our school board unanimously approved a change in school board policy on November 28, 2016 to discontinue accepting new transfer students, other than the few exceptions listed above. As a result of this policy change, our transfer student enrollment has declined and will continue to decline. Our resident student enrollment is increasing rapidly and we have a committee of parents, school district employees, and community members working on a long range facilities plan to provide classrooms and extra-curricular facilities to accommodate all of these students.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-947-6905 anytime if you have questions regarding our school district.