Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

County School Board Tightens Residency Rule

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

County School Board Tightens Residency Rule

Article excerpt

TUSCALOOSA | The Tuscaloosa County Board of Education unanimously approved the system's revised residency policy Monday, making it more difficult for parents to enroll their children in schools outside their school zone.

"The purpose in the revision of the residency policy is that the schools are overloaded," said Dan Butler, interim superintendent of the county school system. "We are an actively growing system of nearly 18,000 students."

Greg Hurst, coordinator of student services, said earlier this month that his office gets hundreds of calls from school principals at schools throughout the county reporting students who they believe aren't living in the zone of the school they're attending.

He said it's been an ongoing problem that can cause schools to become overcrowded, which strains a school's resources and increases classroom sizes. It also causes system administrators to have to remove teachers at schools where student enrollment is decreasing, because enrollment determines how many teachers are needed.

"We don't want one school going from 800 kids to 400 kids, because we then lose teachers," Hurst said in mid-July.

The old policy most often was abused when parents gave legal guardianship of their children to relatives or friends living in a more desirable school zone. The new policy makes it more difficult for guardianship to be recognized by system officials.

The school system's old residency policy allowed parents or guardians to establish residency in a school zone by completing a certificate of residence form and providing a copy of a home ownership title or a rental lease. It also allowed students to live with a guardian outside their parent's school zone for four out of five nights a week to attend a school in the guardian's school zone.

Under the new policy, affidavits will no longer serve as proof of residency and the following criteria must be met for guardianship to be recognized:

n Parents or guardians must provide proof of residency with a mortgage document, property deed or apartment lease, along with a utility bill or a visit from a designated school official who confirms residency. …

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