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Long BoE tightens rules for non-resident students
0226 Long teacher of year
Long County School System special education teacher of the year Michael Taylor stands between LCHS Assistant Principal Scotty Hattaway and Principal Dr. Dolores Mallard. - photo by Photo by Mike Riddle
The Long County Board of Education voted during a meeting last week to tighten its rules regarding non-residential students who attend schools in the county.
The board voted 3-1 to allow current, non-residential students who attend school in the county to finish out the school year. The students will not be allowed to attend Long County schools next year unless they become county residents or have parents who are employed by the school system.
The issue of non-resident students was brought up earlier this month and Superintendent Dr. Robert Waters said he wants clearer guidelines from the board on how to deal with the issue.
According to Waters, the current policy says students who live outside the county can attend Long County schools if a parent works in the system or if space is available in classrooms and on the buses. The superintendent said when special permission is approved for students who fall into this second category, tuition fees are required. However, Waters said the system is at full-capacity right now, so only non-residential students who are children of school employees may enroll.
Some BoE members pointed out that several students already were required to withdraw from school when administrators learned they were not Long County residents.
“We always have had this policy. Has it been being followed? No,” said board member Emma Strickland. “It is very unfortunate that 30-40 students have been removed, but I am not in favor of removing a senior who is four months from graduating at this time.”
Board member Billy Hall began a discussion about the recent tax increase. He said the issue of non-residential students was brought to the board’s attention during hearings on a millage rate increase.
“At those hearings, we said that we would address this issue and educate our own (kids),” Hall said. “I hate it with all may heart (requiring students to leave), but taxpayers are paying the employees and I have to stand by the tax payers.”
Waters said financial data reflecting the number of students in the system has been turned in to the state. If those students left now, the school system could lose $5,500 per student.
Long County High School Principal Dr. Dolores Mallard expressed concern about the school’s graduation rate.
“I’m concerned about our graduation rate. We’re going to have a student who we’ve prepared and now they are going to boost another school’s graduation rate,” she said. “I don’t want us to hurt our chance at making AYP.”
Board member Linda DeLoach said, “I made promises to the taxpayers too, but I also made a promise to the children in our school.”
BoE Chairman Dempsey Golden said, “We want to do what’s in the best interest of the taxpayers, but since we have the enrollment already set for this year, we will actually lose money (for each student who leaves).”
After much debate, the board approved a measure that would allow any student enrolled as of Feb. 19 to finish the school year, but any Long County non-residents must leave the school system before next year, unless a student’s parent is employed by the school system.
Golden, Strickland and DeLoach voted in favor of the measure. Hall voted in opposition.

In other education news:
•The BoE added three more furlough days, bringing the yearly total to six for employees who work more than 180 days during the calendar year.
•The BoE discussed the guidelines for non-school related fundraisers on school property.
•Long County High School educator Michael Taylor was named special education teacher of the year.

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