Charleston County school leaders trying to get accurate count of out-of-county students
Charleston County school officials don’t know exactly how many out-of-county students are enrolled, but they’re making efforts to get a more accurate figure.
“We are committed to addressing the issue,” said Melissa Matarazzo, the district’s executive director of achievement and accountability.
School leaders released a document in early May that gave a school-by-school breakdown of the out-of-county students enrolled for a districtwide total of 149. Community member and district critic Henry Copeland pointed out inconsistencies in the numbers, such as Academic Magnet and School of the Arts listing only four out-of-county students when it’s been frequently reported that it has 15.
Officials have been looking at the figures since then, and they’ve found schools don’t have a consistent way of entering students’ addresses into a district database. The way some schools, such as School of the Arts and Academic Magnet High, entered that information made it appear as though students lived in the county when an on-site audit showed otherwise.
Both schools were asked to correct students’ records, but the same request was not made of other schools because it would’ve required an individual review of every student’s record, Matarazzo said.
The district plans to use a new online registration tool for parents in the fall, and it also likely will have a new system to flag out-of-county students’ records and make it easier to identify them, Matarazzo said.
Getting an accurate count is important because the district will start charging tuition to newly enrolled out-of-county students in 2013-14.
District leaders expect to have a better estimate in the fall.
“It is very difficult to come up with an exact number of out-of-county students given the constant ebb and flow of students moving in and out of the system,” Matarazzo said.
“Having said that, we are constantly refining our data management system to ensure everything is accurate.”