Buses will not be rerouted outside the Apache Junction school district’s boundaries for students attending through open enrollment, but transporting them from stops already in use was recently discussed.
“Are there ways that if you as an outside student, wanting to attend our school, if you get to one of our bus stops, we just pick you up within the route?” Dr. Krista Anderson, superintendent of Apache Junction Unified School District, said at a recent AJUSD Governing Board meeting.
“It’s not that we’re going to your house or we’re going outside of the boundaries to pick you up, but what are some ways we can encourage more students to choose AJUSD?”
Her comments came during discussion on open enrollment, a state statute that allows for any student to apply for any school in Arizona.
The district’s open-enrollment policy does not include transportation, she said.
“We do know that we have some individuals who may want to attend some of our programming, that we haven’t offered transportation for open enrollment,” Dr. Anderson said.
While most schools in AJUSD have space for open-enrolled students, some grade levels are at capacity and are not accepting open enrolled students, according to a district document.
Applications may be obtained from the district website at goaj.org, from any AJUSD school or at the district office, 1575 W. Southern Ave.
Resident transfer students and non-resident students may apply to attend schools within the district, according to AJUSD guidelines for open enrollment.
“But there are some criteria that go along with that and so when we get an open-enrollment application, our principals are usually the first one to see that open-enrollment application and they have to determine, ‘Do I have capacity for this student?’” Dr. Anderson said to the Governing Board.
Recently added to the district’s policies on open enrollment is how to handle students who have been suspended or disciplined, or have had excessive absences or are tardy.
“We’ve updated a few of the items,” Dr. Anderson said. “One of the things that we struggled with this past year is, what does that process look like when we have students who are on open enrollment that may be struggling? And when I say struggling, it may mean that there are excessive absences, tardies; there might be discipline. So we wanted to make sure that the process was very clear for our parents and was very clear for our schools.”
The school’s principal may revoke students’ open enrollment due to excessive discipline or absences effective at the end of the academic quarter for kindergarten through sixth grades or by academic semester for the junior and high schools. If an open enrollment for an AJUSD student is revoked, the student must attend the AJUSD school of residence or return to their home district, the district’s guidelines state.
Board member Cami Garcia asked if open enrollment also included students in the district who attend one elementary and choose to go to a different school.
“Is that more of a variance?” she asked.
“It’s open enrollment,” Dr. Anderson said. “And, we encourage parents to have their choice within AJUSD. Choice is good, but we want them to choose our school district. Parents have to decide what’s best for their children and we want to be able to accommodate them.”