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Ashland School District surveys Rogue Valley for transfer students

The Ashland School District is seeking the public's help in determining how many local students might want to transfer to a school in Ashland.

Under the state's new open enrollment legislation, all districts have until March 1 to decide whether to allow transfers for the 2012-13 year, and Ashland has created a district committee to help gauge interest.

"We are on board with approving transfers; the question is how many," said Samuel Bogdanove, director of student services for Ashland schools.

Bogdanove said the district has lost a slow, steady stream of students each of the past several years.

"We are a district experiencing declining enrollment," he said.

But he attributes the outflow mostly to reasons such as students moving out of the area or the high cost of living in Ashland.

The district has registered a net gain in transfers for each of the past five years, helping to offset the declining enrollment.

When a student wants to attend a school outside of their home district, they must receive permission from the district they are leaving. The new legislation grants students the right to transfer to any school, inside or outside their home district, provided there's room and the target district has agreed to allow incoming transfers.

Bogdanove said the survey was sent to several Ashland employers, with the idea that people who work in Ashland but live elsewhere might want their students to transfer in.

"We are hoping to have responses from across the valley," Bogdanove said.

At least 45 people took the survey the first day it was online, with a mix of current students, new interested students and some who probably just clicked out of curiosity, Bogdanove said.

The district's open enrollment committee is hoping a good response on the survey will help them better gauge transfer interest and help them develop a policy to allow transfers under the new law, Bogdanove said.

The committee consists of two school board members, two district principals, two teachers and three parents.

The district thinks it's a good idea to plan ahead in case they need to hire additional teachers for the upcoming year, he said.

Bogdanove said the survey is a good idea for the Ashland School District but he believes districts across the valley should come up with their own tactics for dealing with the new legislation.

"Some districts have very flexible policies, and other districts do not," he said. "I believe that school choice is the right thing for families when it's available."

The Medford School District has begun discussions about the new law, and the School Board plans to meet with three local legislators on Thursday, Dec. 8, to discuss the potential impacts within their district.

To take the survey, see the Ashland School District website at www.ashland.k12.or.us.

Reach reporter Teresa Ristow at 541-776-4459 or tristow@mailtribune.com.