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Hamilton County school transfer students prove costly

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HAMILTON COUNTY, TN. (WRCB) -- Superintendent Rick Smith says opting out of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) will help students and the budget.

It costs nearly $1,00,000 yearly to bus transfer students.

Smith says he won't pull the plug all at once.

"They (students) get into the school culture and the student body and we don't need to be so quick to change that," Smith says.

However, he says low performing school pull down the county's overall grade.

Those grades determine how much federal money comes home.

District one, which includes Soddy-Daisy gained dozens more students than it lost.

Board member Rhonda Thurman say the decision to transfer should be open and left to the students and their parents.

"If we had open enrollment we would not have this discussion," Thurman says. "That way people would be able to where ever they wanted to as long as they had their own transportation and the school had room."

Board member George Ricks says Howard High lost more than 50 students last year to schools providing "a more rich academic program."

He says the school system doesn't spread the word enough about the good programs at Howard.

"Just because the kids attend the school outside the zone, doesn't mean they are part of the academic program," Ricks says.

The transfer isn't always about the books, though Smith says athletics is also a driver.

"I would hope there is less attention to the athletic piece to this than there is the academic side."

Thurman says, "If it isn't a school where the kids want to go, lets shut it down. Let them make the decision. Let the parents decide what schools they want."

Smith says his goal is to find a way to put the money saved back into the low scoring schools.

Five are on the radar including Brainerd High which had the highest number of students leave, and the lowest scores.

Smith says he plans to make his presentation to the board.

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