VALPARAISO | Recent changes in state law could force Valparaiso Community Schools to refuse students from outside the township, including some it now accepts.
In 2013, the Indiana Legislature voted that schools basically had to accept all or none nonresident students, Superintendent Michael Berta told the School Board at its discussion meeting last week.
Schools were allowed to set some limits on accepting students based on classroom capacity.
No action is required until June. Valparaiso currently accepts nonresident students attending local parochial schools when they enter high school, and it allows the children of school employees to attend Valparaiso schools.
The legislature amended the law this year to allow the transfers of students from accredited parochial schools. It also said any nonresident transfers enrolled in 2012 could complete their education and graduate from that system and other children in the household also were eligible to attend the same district.
Berta said the district now has four children of school employees who live outside the district enrolled at Valparaiso schools. One of those was enrolled in 2012 and would be eligible to continue but the other three were not.
With the board in the middle of studying of its building needs and classroom space, Berta said it would be his position not to accept any transfer students until those issues are resolved.
Josh Bachman, a teacher and principal at Immanuel Lutheran School, said 12 nonresident graduates of the school are now enrolled at the high school.
"They are among the top students," he said. "These are the families that will take Valparaiso Community Schools where it wants to go, and you should do what you can to allow them in the school."
Board member Jim Jorgensen said he hopes the board can formalize it existing policy to allow the parochial students but supported Berta's recommendation on other transfer students, saying it should be delayed until the building studies is done.
"I understand that the law is the law, but I wish there was something we could do for our employees," Board member James Sarkisian said. "That kind of bothers me."
Board President Mark Maassel said, "We have a lot of challenges that we ought not compound. I'm a fan of the parochial student policy, but otherwise we should have no open transfers."
The issue will be considered at the board's April 24 meeting.