BAR HARBOR — This year, 17 students have gotten permission to attend a school in the Mount Desert Island Regional School System (MDIRSS) that is not in the town where they live.
Nine of them live in the district but go to school in another town in the district. Eight live outside the school district.
“I’m a big proponent of having children go to school in the community they reside in, insofar as possible,” MDIRSS Superintendent Marc Gousse said.
But he recognizes that, occasionally, that isn’t what’s best for the child. Most often, he said, that is the case when a family is moving to another town and doesn’t want to uproot a child from a school where he or she is doing well and has close friends.
The parents can request that the student be allowed to remain in that school. In other cases, a family might have a compelling reason for wanting a child to transfer to a different school.
If both schools are in the same district, then the decision rests with the superintendent. If they are in different districts, then both superintendents must agree.
“When we have a request, we look at what’s best for the child, first and foremost,” he said.
Still, he said, he would like to keep the number of transfers as low as possible.
“My observations are that the schools are doing a great job, and I think parents can be proud of where they live and the schools that are there to serve their children,” he said. “I think it’s also very important that the resources stay with the child in the community.”
If a child transfers to an MDIRSS school from outside the district, the town where the child’s family lives pays for the cost of that child’s education. But, currently, with an in-district transfer, the money does not follow the student.
Gousse said student transfer approvals – called “superintendent agreements” – are for one year. A new request must be submitted each year, he said, “even if it’s going well and the kid likes it and the parents like it.”
If a request for a student transfer is denied, the parents may appeal that decision to the Maine Department of Education.
This year’s 17 “superintendent agreement” transfers do not include students who are allowed to attend a school in a town where one of their parents works but where they do not live. There are 12 of those this year.
Gousse said he doesn’t have a problem with that.
“That’s just good for the kids,” he said, as well as being more convenient for the parent.