The Sherman Independent School District is clarifying and updating its transfer policies amid upcoming changes to the district's attendance zones. The changes, which were approved during the school board's February meeting, allow for consideration of students who will be displaced by the upcoming attendance zone update.

In December, the district updated the attendance zones for the 2021-2022 school year to reflect changes that will take place in the district's layout starting in early 2021 with the opening of the new Sherman High School.

Among the changes, the current high school will be converted into the district's second middle school campus starting in the 2021-2022 school year. Dillingham Intermediate will be transitioned into an elementary school, and attendance zones for all elementary campuses will be restructured to make defined feeder patterns for the middle schools.

“Parents or guardians of students affected by the rezoning of 2020 can make a request to stay at the home campus, provided the student has been continuously enrolled from the beginning of December 2019 through the 2021 academic year,” Assistant Superintendent of Student Support and Engagement Tamy Smalskas said.

Alternatively, students who will be affected by the transition in 2021-2022, could request permission to move to their new campuses early, she added.

Previously, the district would allow transfers based on health, safety and special services that were offered at a campus. These new updates add district rezoning as a fourth consideration.

When the district first announced the proposed changes, at forums held on individual campus sites, some parents raised concerns about the schools that their children would be transitioned into. Common concerns raised included separating children from their social support network of friends, inferior campuses and transitioning to campuses that were further away from the home.

Smalskas said future decisions regarding transfers will be based on availability and space at campuses, but the district will work on keeping students within the same feeder pattern. District officials will work to keep sections within the campuses at under 85 percent capacity to ensure there is space for students who move into the attendance zone.

For example, Smalskas said if she received a request based in the Piner Middle School feeder pattern, she would look to see where there is space at Fairview, Sory, Wakefield and Washington Elementaries. Alternatively, choosing the Sherman Middle School pattern will place a student at Neblett, Dillingham or Crutchfield Elementaries.

“They do not get to select the individual campus,” Smalskas said. “They get to select a feeder.”

The district also updated its policy for out-of-district transfers during the February meeting. Previously, the district was only able to revert a transfer student to their original school zone after a full year. With the new policy, the district will be able to revoke a transfer based on behavior, attendance and academics, in addition to space availability.

Smalskas said transfer students are extremely rare in SISD and make up less than three percent of the total student population, About 77 students are currently in-district transfers, representing less than 1 percent of the population. Of those students, about 49 percent of the transfers are from parent employment within the district.

Out-of-district transfers make up about 2 percent of the population, with 52 percent of those based on district employment.