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Parents concerned over ECS intertransfer policy

EUREKA - The Eureka City School Board meeting was packed last night with parents wanting to speak their mind on the proposed changes to the interdistrict transfer policy.

For the past seven years there has been a countywide open enrollment policy – that means parents could choose to send their children out of the district by filing a transfer application. However, Eureka city schools is proposing changes to this policy after it expires in June.

About 800 students who live in Eureka go to school outside of the district for various reasons such as class sizes, extracurricular activities or after school programs.

District officials believe it might be time to limit interdistrict transfers because when so many students leave, it has a substantial economic effect on Eureka city schools.

"With every student that they don't serve, they lose financial resources. And they see that eight hundred students and that loss of revenue as something that's actually detrimental to the program they're running,” said Humboldt County Office of Education Superintendent Gary Eagles, “If they had those students back, as well as the resources, they believe they would be able to offer even strong programs than they do."

However, some parents believe the district is focusing too much on money and not enough the students.

Eureka resident and parent, Mike Dronkers, told us, "My kids do go to a small school out of the district and they are thriving in a small school environment. To have that revoked or not available for future families to me seems unjust."

The board said if a student or a student's sibling was already attending a school outside of the district that those interdistrict agreements would remain intact.

At the end of the meeting, there was contentious debate over whether or not this protection would apply to the Cutten-Ridgewood district. Parents expressed concern that their children would be treated differently.

"That was tough to hear because that affects us a lot especially since that's our child,” said parent Dave Davison, “That would affect him. He would have to go to a whole new school system starting in third grade which would be a big deal."

However, Humboldt County Office of Education Superintendent Gary Eagles is confident this won't be the case.

"I don't believe that ultimately Cutten's students would be treated differently,” said Eagles, “I believe that the students would be allowed to continue in Cutten. I believe the siblings would be allowed to continue in Cutten."

The school board will be hashing out the details of the newly proposed plan throughout this spring. They are encouraging any public comment and recommendations.