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Pupils opt for different schools

Parents given choice due to failure of E. Wilson Morrison to meet standards

By M.K. Luther -- mkluther@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- Twenty E. Wilson Morrison Elementary School pupils have exercised their choice to attend a different county elementary school this year.

They were given the option because E. Wilson Morrison failed to meet state-mandated education standards.

As part of the sanction for failing to meet Adequate Yearly Progress standards, any Title I school -- a school receiving funding for economically disadvantaged pupils -- must provide children the alternative of attending another public school.

E. Wilson Morrison has failed to meet the AYP standard for two consecutive years in reading and math and, as a Title I school, is designated as in "school improvement" and is required to offer school choice.

About 35-40 people came to a school choice informational meeting on Aug. 17, said Director of Administrator support Greg Drescher.

Of E. Wilson Morrison's 460 pupils, 13 will go to A.S. Rhodes while seven will go to one of the county's other elementary schools for the 2009-10 academic year.

A majority of pupils' parents chose A.S. Rhodes Elementary on Strasburg Road because the school is close to their homes, Drescher said.

Warren County Public Schools is allowed to use 10 percent of its Title I funding -- amounts up to $70,000 -- to pay for the public transportation of pupils to the schools outside the E. Wilson Morrison attendance zone.

Pupils who make the transfer are now permitted to continue attending the school of their choice, even if E. Wilson Morrison meets the federal benchmark and is no longer categorized as in "school improvement."

"Once a student goes to another school because of choice, they can stay there until the highest grade," Drescher said.

If E. Wilson Morrison does not reach the AYP benchmark for the second successive year, the school must use Title I funding to pay a contracted service provider for additional educational services for students, Drescher said. Warren County Middle School already is providing supplemental services, Drescher said, with about 34 pupils choosing to participate in the past year.

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