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Decatur School system considers hiring ‘enrollment assistant’

Annexation, new cities Decatur

Decatur School system considers hiring ‘enrollment assistant’

A city schools of Decatur bus. Photo from CSD Facebook page.

A city schools of Decatur bus. Photo from CSD Facebook page.

As City Schools of Decatur’s enrollment has continued to increase so have questions about the residency of some students.

During the Oct. 13 School Board meeting, board members will consider approving the creation of a “Residency Enrollment Assistant” to deal with those questions.

“The residency process continues to grow as we enroll new families. This summer over 500 new families were enrolled for the first time into CSD,” a note attached to the meeting agenda says. “The Central Office receives concerns, which seem to grow as well, about families possibly living outside of Decatur.”

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The enrollment assistant’s salary range would be $30,000 to $40,000. Current enrollment in City Schools of Decatur is 4,667 students, about 98 percent of the projected enrollment. The school system is projecting 6,527 students by 2020, and is asking voters to vote “yes” on Nov. 3 to allow CSD to borrow $75 million for school construction.

“During the spring and summer, staff is extremely busy on a full time basis, processing new enrollment. In addition, we are finding the school referrals and tips of possible concerns are on the rise,” the board agenda says. “The increase in student enrollment over the last eight years seems to be outstripping our current staff and proceed with the proper investigation when residency is called into question.”

CSD has tried to get a handle on its growing student population and weed out people who might be giving fraudulent residency information. The school system uses private investigators to delve deeper into where students live, and last year ended the practice of accepting tuition students from other school districts.

Students enrolled in CSD are required to provide a number of documents establishing proof of residence including leases, deeds, tax bills and utility bills.

The school system also checks residency as students progress through the system.

“If students are already enrolled, the system asks that residency information be provided at the transition points as they are moving up to grade 4, 6, and 9,” the Oct. 13 board agenda says. “This requires two pieces of documentation to show residency. A lease, a deed or a tax bill, as well as a current utility bill are required documents.”

The agenda also breaks down how CSD investigates residency concerns:

The administrative assistants, in addition to their regular duities and the registrars at DHS an RMS, follow this procedure for residency investigation.

– Record residency concerns in Infinite Campus

– Discuss residency concerns with the Principal

– Scan and attach residency documentation to the PLP (this may include returned mail, letters, etc)

– Investigate to find parent or guardian names for other known addresses

– Escalate to the Central Office if it seems that enough evidence exists to require additional investigation

Central Office Level:

– Once the referral has been made to the central office, this process is followed:
Review documents provided to prove residency and verify authenticity and accuracy

– Check to see if leases are valid, or if deed and other documents are authentic

– If it appears necessary, request additional documents

– Check updated school zone maps and new annexations received from the city

– Contact the parent or guardian with the concern

– Contact an outside investigator to check addresses provided and residency at the address

– Review all information to determine where the student resides

– Send appropriate notice to the parent/guardian if determined to be out of the city

Currently these duties are handled by the Chief Operating Officer’s Administrative Assistant, in addition to other job duties. According to the board agenda, new housing units and annexation of property into the city has added to the work load.

“Since January, the COO has received 141 notifications of additional property added to the city,” the board agenda says. “In some cases, addresses of vacant lots, homes for sale or even the address of the central office, 125 Electric Avenue, have been used to enroll. This will continue to be an issue as the reputation of the school system is one of quality and many people want their children to attend CSD.”

The Oct. 13 School Board meeting will be held at CSD’s central office, located at 125 Electric Avenue, beginning at 6:30 p.m. All meetings are open to the public.