Parents can apply for school choice options

Dr. Randy Stowe

The Aiken County School District will provide elementary parents in the county the opportunity to enroll their children in another county school for the 2013-14 school year through in Expanded School Choice program, available beginning Friday through Feb. 28.

They can request to transfer their children to among the 15 elementary schools currently eligible to receive students through this program, said Dr. Randy Stowe, the district’s director of administration.

The parents of students already enrolled in a school through Expanded School Choice do not need to re-apply to keep their children at that school. All new applications, however, will be subject to first-come, first-serve status.

Parents don’t need to provide a formal reason for the transfer request, he said. However, five elementary schools – Hammond Hill, Chukker Creek, Millbrook and Aiken – will not receive students. Those facilities are at capacity, said Peggy Trivelas, a district academic officer.

The expanded school choice program has no connection with the current efforts in the S.C. General Assembly.

The various school choice bills introduced in the legislature focus primarily on scholarships or other ways to give low-income parents to enroll their children in private schools.

The Aiken School District introduced its own Expanded School Choice several years ago. The intent at that time was to give elementary parents more public school options.

Some people may have a preference to move their children, Trivelas said.

“East Aiken (School of the Arts) is an example because it has a particular program,” she said. “It could just be a convenience opportunity for them. If they’re wiling to provide the transportation, we’ll provide the program for them.”

Expanded School Choice is available for the 2013-14 school year only through Feb. 28.

“It gives parents more flexibility, but it does place a burden on us,” Stowe said. “So we do it early, as it requires additional planning.”

The school district also has offered for much longer an older transfer program to assist parents with hardships. They must offer a concrete reason – health issues at home, child-care issues or instances where the parent drives by an proposed schools on the way to work.

That program does allow parents to pursue the hardship process throughout the year if a significant problem arises. However, sometimes parents who apply for Expanded School Choice may not be successful if the school currently below capacity may get too many transfers to bring it up to capacity. A parent who then seeks hardship entry may not be accepted.

Want to participate?

• Expanded School Choice elementary schools – J.D. Lever, East Aiken School of the Arts, North Aiken, Gloverville, Warrenville, Oakwood-Windsor, Belvedere, Mossy Creek, North Augusta, Clearwater, Jefferson, Greendale and Redcliffe. Also RS-M Elementary/Middle School and Busbee Corbett Elementary Middle School.

• Applications – They will be posted on the school district website, starting Friday. Parents can access them by going to There will be a direct link on the home page, as well as the option to click on “Parent” in the green column on the left side of the home page.

They can select “Guide for Parents” from the drop-down box, go to “School Choice” in the alphabetical listing and select “Expanded Choice Application.”

• Sending the applications – Parents can fax them to 803-641-2636 or deliver them by mail or in person to ACPS District Office, 1000 Brookhaven Drive, Aiken, SC 29803. Schools and parents will be notified of acceptance or denial.