The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

November 7, 2013

Board splits on school zone waiver decision


Issue background

The No Child Left Behind Act previously forced the Limestone school board to grant the school zone variances.

The federal education law allowed about 1,800 students in Alabama to switch schools during the 2012-13 school year, according to the state Department of Education.

These waivers permitted students in the Tanner district to enroll in the Clements district because the law allowed students to leave any high-poverty school tagged with the controversial “school improvement” label.

“Our state Department of Education granted a waiver from the school improvement section (of NCLB),” said Mary Robinson, director of federal programs. “There aren’t any school improvement schools in the state of Alabama.

“When that happened, we no longer have to offer school choice … we found out at the end of July, and as soon as we knew, we sent out letters to parents.”

School districts are now under the guidelines of the Alabama Accountability Act passed by the state Legislature earlier this year. Under this law, no school in the Limestone district is designated as a so-called “failing” school, and none are listed as needing improvement.

“School choice was not a decision made by this board,” Sisk said. “It was imposed upon us by the federal government, and there are no schools that are on the list … I don’t want people to think we have any bad schools in Limestone County.

“We previously established zone lines for the system, which is what I said in the letter I sent to the parents at the beginning of the school year.”

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