6,750 Salem-Keizer students transfer schools, but not for sports


After attending Howard Street Charter School for eighth grade, Andrea Hogan was supposed to move on to Sprague High School.

But with her younger sister still at Howard Street, her family, instead, decided to transfer Hogan to South Salem, which houses the charter school.

There were other benefits as well. Hogan, now 23, wanted to take part in South’s International Baccalaureate Diploma and Advancement Via Individual Determination programs.

Hogan’s experience was shared this year by more than 6,750 students in Salem-Keizer Public Schools, according to the district’s latest figures.

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That’s 16 percent of the district’s nearly 43,000 total student population. Applications for the coming school year are due March 31.

Students transfer for a wide range of reasons, but it can’t be for sports.

How it works

Hogan said transferring schools in the district is seamless for most people, assuming the school they want to go to isn’t too far over capacity.

For example, when Hogan tried transferring to West Salem High School for a forensic class they offered, they turned her away since they couldn’t take more students at the time.

Otherwise, it was just a matter of paperwork and getting the green light from both schools, she said.

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The process begins with the resident, or assigned, school, according to the district’s webpage. Parents or guardians obtain an in-district transfer request form from their resident school or the district office on Lancaster Drive.

The principals of both the resident school and the requested school separately review and approve or deny the request.

If the request is approved by both principals, parents are mailed a copy of the approved form notifying them of the decision, according to the district.

Bus transportation is not provided for students who transfer within the district and there is an appeals process if the parents disagree with the decision.

“We know we cannot possibly offer the entire breadth of programs to our students at one school,” said Kelly Carlisle, Salem-Keizer’s assistant superintendent.

“(But) we believe the diverse array of programs available to students across our … schools is an asset (to) our community.”

Why students transfer

From bullying to specialized academic offerings, students transfer for a number of reasons.

At the elementary level, the top reason to transfer is definitely childcare, said Aaron Harada, a district spokesman.

Parents may have childcare arrangements in a part of town outside their resident school and the in-district transfer allows students to attend a school closer to their childcare, he said.

Eyre Elementary in Salem received the most transfers of any elementary school for the 2017-18 school year, with 170 students transferring in, according to the March report.

For middle schoolers, there are many transfers based on special education services needed by families, Harada said. There are also transfers for students to remain in their feeder system.

For example, if a student transferred to an elementary school in Keizer, he said, they might request to transfer to a middle school in Keizer as well so they can stay with their peers.

Waldo Middle School in Salem has the most transfers this school year — 97 students — for the traditional middle schools. However, 136 went to Howard Street Charter via the school’s lottery system.

Read more: Oregon can do more to boost graduation rates, state audit says

At the high school level, Harada said many students transfer for specific educational programs, such as career technical education and foreign language courses.

Many transfer to South for its International Baccalaureate Diploma or culinary programs, to McKay High School for its nursing assistant program or to West for its fire science program.

However, officials said students are not allowed to transfer for sports, which would violate OSAA and district policies.

Just over 1,000 in-district transfers are to the district’s six traditional high schools. When including specialty programs, like Roberts High School or the district’s teen-parent program, that number reaches more than 1,800 transfers.

South Salem had the most in-district transfers this year with 374 students.

In-district transfer request forms for the 2018-19 school year are due March 31. For more information, go to salkeiz.k12.or.us/student-transfers/ or call 503-399-2632.

Contact Natalie Pate at npate@StatesmanJournal.com, 503-399-6745, or follow her on Twitter @Nataliempate or on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/nataliepatejournalist.

More on education:

Salem-Keizer tries in-school programs to address student mental health crisis

An invisible problem: One student’s struggle with mental health

Will all mandatory reporters in Oregon follow Salem-Keizer’s teen sex reporting rules?

Published by Natalie Pate

Natalie Pate is a freelance journalist and author based in Salem, Oregon. She wrote about education for more than seven years at the Statesman Journal and now covers education and other topics throughout the Pacific Northwest. She is originally from Colorado and earned her B.A. in Politics and French from Willamette University.

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