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Exceptions will not be granted for redistricted students

The King George School Board this week voted “not to adopt any new variance policy for 2010-11.”  The motion by Dennis Paulsen was approved on a split vote of 3-2.
Interestingly, when The Journal asked Superintendent Candace Brown for the existing School Board variance policy after the meeting, she said there is no policy that appears in writing, meaning it is a practice handed down by oral tradition.
For the action regarding the practice of granting variances, Chairman Lynn Pardee cast the deciding vote to not make changes to the way they are currently granted.  

It appears that the only reason for a variance is for those students whose childcare providers are located in an elementary school district other than the one where they reside.  Granting a variance to the attendance districts for that reason allows for children to be provided transportation to and from their childcare providers.  
After Pardee called for the vote, it was tied, with Paulsen and Renee Parker voting in favor of no changes.  
Mike Rose and Rick Randall voted against the motion, since they wanted some changes made to address the redistricting that will take place when school opens this fall.
Pardee paused before casting her aye vote, saying, “I haven’t voted yet. I’m trying to do the numbers in my head. Quiet, let me think.”

REDISTRICTING    
The School Board last month approved a plan that redraws the attendance lines for King George’s three elementary schools for this fall, as recommended by Brown.
That’s because Sealston Elementary School (SES) and King George Elementary School (KGES) are getting crowded, while Potomac Elementary School (PES) has room for more students.
Redistricting is expected to result in about 225 elementary students switching schools beginning this September 2010.
The redistricting will move about 75 students from SES to KGES and would also switch about 150 other students from KGES to PES.  
Rules for granting variances, or exceptions for individual students had been discussed during last month’s meeting when the School Board voted on redistricting, but a decision was put off until this week’s meeting on May 10.
Assistant Superintendent Dick Roberts said he’d had several calls with questions that needed decisions by the School Board.  He added, “You have been throwing around the term ‘grandfathering.’”   
During a couple meetings in March, several parents had requested the School Board to consider granting a variance or adopt a ‘grandfather clause’ that would allow siblings of Talented and Gifted (TAG) students to stay at KGES.
The TAG program for elementary students is consolidated and housed at KGES, with no TAG program offered at SES or PES.
Roberts said the decisions centered on that topic and had provided information in April that nine siblings would be involved if that reason was included as a variance.
A second question was whether siblings could ride to and from school on the bus used for TAG students.  
The action taken will not grant either exception.

Phyllis Cook
Staff reporter

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