BENNINGTON -- Families residing within Molly Stark and Bennington Elementary school boundaries no longer have the option to request their child attend Monument Elementary after the town’s smallest school joined the ranks identified by the state as needing "school improvement."
Monument’s new status stems from the school failing to meet Adequate Yearly Progress for a second consecutive year, as was announced earlier this month by the Vermont Department of Education.
When the school a child attends has not made AYP two consecutive years, Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act that child is eligible to attend a different school in the district that has not been identified as needing school improvement.
The law has allowed families in Molly Stark’s boundaries to request their child attend Monument since 2006, and families in Bennington Elementary’s boundaries have had the option since 2009 when it was placed in "school improvement."
In recent years Bennington School District has received less than a dozen requests from parents for their children to attend Monument each year, according to Catherine McClure, superintendent of Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union. In the three years she has been superintendent, McClure said the district has accommodated all but one of those requests. The only request denied was due to a grade level being at capacity.
Monument Elementary has consistently performed at or above state average on standardized tests, although two years ago the requirements for meeting AYP increased to a point where 72 percent of schools in the state failed to meet the target. Monument was among the 118 schools that fell short of the AYP target for the first time last year. This year Monument and almost all of the other 117 schools were labeled as needing school improvement after falling short of the benchmark a second consecutive year.
The school choice option in BSD is over immediately so no incoming kindergarten students will be allowed that opportunity, but all of the students who have been granted enrollment into Monument in past years will be allowed to complete their elementary education there.
Because BSD has three elementary schools and the district considers itself to be one system with three campuses, McClure said parents may still request their child attend a different BSD school with a good reason. Those requests are handled on a case by case basis.
"There has to be a really good reason. It can’t just be because you want your child to attend another school," McClure said. "We don’t have school choice anymore. We had school choice under No Child Left Behind, but that is over now."
Contact Dawson Raspuzzi at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @DawsonRaspuzzi