|2007-12-13 MILTON HERALD |
|Schools get tough on students without residency affidavits|
|December 17, 2007|
Enrollment in the Fulton County School System could take a precarious dive after the Winter Break unless affidavits of residency are returned by more than 9,500 students still missing the mandatory paperwork.
That figure represents more than 10 percent of the current enrollment in Fulton Schools of 86,280 students.
A new policy went into effect this year mandating parents notarize a form which verifies their legal address. The form serves two purposes: one, it ensures students are not attending a school outside their attendance zone; and two, ensures only Fulton County residents are attending schools in Fulton County.
"With the cost to educate a student in Fulton County more than $8,000, and with our reputation of outstanding schools, we need to make sure our students are all residents of Fulton County," said Alpharetta board member Katie Reeves.
The affidavit only verifies the legal address, not the citizenship status of the parents, noted school officials.
Although the residency forms were required by Sept. 1, Fulton Schools allowed additional time for parents to complete and send in the forms. The deadline will not be extended past Dec. 19, at which time students will be removed from the rolls.
A letter was sent earlier this month to parents of students lacking the documents, informing them of the timeline to comply with the policy.
"No students have been withdrawn [yet] due to not returning the affidavit. However, if any of the 9,500 students do not return the affidavit by the end of the semester on Dec. 19, they will be withdrawn," said Fulton Schools spokesperson Susan Hale. "We believe most of those parents haven't returned the affidavit out of error, not because there are 9,500 out-of-district students."
She noted 90 percent of the district's 86,000 students have already complied with the policy.
"Considering the size of our school system, and that this is the first year of the new policy, we think 90 percent compliance at this point in time is fairly good," said Hale. "We do expect higher compliance by the deadline."
The majority of students lacking the affidavits attend South Fulton schools, according to school system records.
Two years ago a pilot program was instituted at a number of schools, primarily those along the border of a neighboring county, to ensure students were all residents of Fulton County. Although the number of students "caught" was relatively small, the board has acted aggressively to verify residency.
Last year, the school system hired two attendance officers – one for North Fulton and one for South Fulton – to verify questionable residencies, and also required parents to submit residency forms. This year the board mandated the forms be notarized.
Processing the residency affidavits was a time-consuming business for data workers in the local schools, some of whom said they spent up to three weeks at the start of the year doing nothing more than handling the affidavits.
Hale said there are no plans to discontinue the process, which will be required of parents every year from now on at the start of school.
"We're making notes along the way as to how the process can be improved for next year," said Hale.
North Fulton Schools' Affidavit of Residency Return Rate
Abbotts Hill 100.00%
Cogburn Woods 99.69%
Crabapple Crossing 100.00%
Creek View 98.82%
Esther Jackson 100.00%
Findley Oaks 100.00%
Hembree Springs 94.35%
Lake Windward 100.00%
Manning Oaks 99.68%
Medlock Bridge 97.59%
Mountain Park 97.06%
New Prospect 99.84%
River Eves 98.76%
Roswell North 99.39%
State Bridge Crossing 100.00%
Summit Hill 99.81%
Sweet Apple 100.00%
Wilson Creek 100.00%
Middle Complete %
Autrey Mill 99.49%
Elkins Pointe 95.89%
Fulton Science 100.00%
Haynes Bridge 100.00%
Holcomb Bridge 96.85%
River Trail 99.60%
Taylor Road 100.00%
Webb Bridge 99.78%
North Crossroads 100.00%
High Complete %
Connected Academy 100.00%
North Second Chance 100.00%