Lucia Mar transfers on the rise

Requests to transfer elementary schools within the Lucia Mar Unified School District have jumped 86 percent in the past decade and 151 percent in the past 15 years.

This year, in an attempt to accommodate even more requests and make any necessary staffing adjustments, administrators at San Luis Obispo County’s largest school system have moved the deadline to May 20 for parents to turn in transfer requests to other district campuses.

The majority of requests are elementary school transfers, and mainly for grades kindergarten through three. Requests to transfer middle schools have fluctuated over the past decade, while requests to transfer high schools have remained small but steady.

“Transfer requests seem to be increasing each year,” Linnea Wilson, secretary with the district’s At-Risk Services Department, wrote in an email.

In 2010, the district received 143 requests to transfer elementary schools and granted 111 requests. In 2001, 77 parents requested transfers; the district approved 20, according to Wilson. In 1996, it received 57 requests.

The district is able to grant more requests in large part because it has increased class sizes in kindergarten through third grades in the past two years, a result of state budget cuts.

Once word got out that the district was granting more transfers, the requests started escalating, officials said.

“The word got out in the community that for the first time in a long time we’ve been able to grant more requests,” said Andy Stenson, assistant superintendent of curriculum.

The district doesn’t track why parents request transfers.

But anecdotal reasons vary, from economic reasons to wanting a student to attend school closer to a baby sitter’s home.

Other parents who commute to San Luis Obispo or Santa Maria prefer their child at a school in a more convenient location to be dropped off, Wilson said, citing reasons she has heard from parents.

A very small number of parents — seven in the current school year — moved their child away from a school in Program Improvement, a probationlike status under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Transfer requests

The deadline for parents to turn in intradistrict transfer requests for the upcoming school year for Lucia Mar Unified School District students has been moved up to May 20 in an attempt to satisfy more requests and adequately staff schools.

A random lottery will be held in June, and parents will be notified about their requests in August. Transfer applications can be picked up and dropped off at the student’s neighborhood school.

Students must be registered and attending their neighborhood Lucia Mar school to be eligible for a transfer. Applications received after May 20 will be placed on a waiting list.

Reach Cynthia Lambert at 781-7929. Stay updated by following @SouthCountyBeat on Twitter.