Stillwater Public Schools has approved 49 open transfer requests so far for the 2021-2022 academic year.
A vast majority of the students transferring in, list one of those nearby schools as their resident district.
At least 10 of the transfer students are listed as children of an SPS teacher or employee and 18 are identified as current SPS students.
The list of approved transfers shows 21 students who are new to the district.
The district reported losing about 500 of its estimated 6,000 students last year after it transitioned to distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some students left for online options and others transferred to other districts in the area that maintained in-person learning.
School transfer policies will soon be changing for students across the state.
In March, Gov. Kevin Stitt signed SB783, a bill that allows open transfer between school districts at any time of the year, as long as the district has space available, and HB 2078, which changes school funding by factoring in changes in enrollment more quickly.
Enrollment counts from the prior school year would determine school funding.
Stitt’s office hailed the two pieces of legislation as “the most transformative education reform legislation in Oklahoma history.”
Advocates for the bills said they allow parents and students to choose the school that works best for them and ensures funding follows the student.
“Today is a historic day for education in Oklahoma,” Secretary of Education Ryan Walters said in a statement released when the Stitt signed the bills. “We have transformed funding for every single student in the state and empowered them to choose a school that best fits their needs. These two bills will work seamlessly together to have an immediate impact on the way we educate Oklahoma’s students...”
Schools have until Jan. 1 to adopt new student transfer policies that comply with SB783.
“Districts must report publicly and to the state Education Department the capacity to accept transfers for each grade level at each school site by the first day of January, April, July and October,” according to a guidance document from the Oklahoma State School Board Association. “Data on the number of transfers by grade level and site must be reported to the state Education Department. Districts also must submit data to the SDE on transfer denials, including the reason for denial.”
Transfers can only be denied if the district has exceeded its enrollment capacity or if the student has discipline or attendance issues.
Capacity limitation cannot be used as a reason to deny any student who applies for a transfer if their parent or guardian is an active member of the military or a member of the military reserve on active duty.