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TRANSFERS TO EAST HIGH MAY BE ALLOWED

SHARE TRANSFERS TO EAST HIGH MAY BE ALLOWED

The Salt Lake Board of Education may open the high school boundaries a crack, allowing students from overcrowded Highland to transfer to East next school year.

Board member Ronald Walker proposed the voluntary transfers in grades 9 to 12 based on a request from the East High Community Council, which is concerned about East's dwindling enrollment.The board will vote on the proposal in a special meeting at 1:30 p.m. Monday.

East High Principal R. Kay Petersen reported that he told 11 teachers Tuesday that their contracts would not be renewed at East next fall because of the dropping enrollment.

The community council, in a letter to Superintendent John W. Bennion by East High Community Council Chairman Ted Jacobsen, complained that the Highland enrollment exceeds enrollment at either East or West by nearly 500 students.

That difference violates a guideline set by the district's boundary commission when it redrew the high school boundaries. It said the enrollment balance should be as close as possible, with a difference of no more than 200 students among the schools.

The letter said that unless something is done, the disparity will increase, overcrowding will continue at Highland and East will lose program opportunities.

The letter also said if the enrollment disparity continues, East's funding should be based as if its enrollment were only 200 below Highland's.

Petersen said if the board decides to allow the transfers, it must act quickly because registration is over and staffing decided.

Board members, however, said they want feedback from the Highland Community Council before making their decision. They plan to get that before Monday.

Board member Alan Mecham, who represents the Highland area, said he isn't opposed to the proposal, but would be concerned if East used the transfers to recruit individual students, particularly athletes.

"I agree completely with Alan. It would be unethical to do selective recruiting," responded Petersen.

He also said he thinks the transfers will number in the tens, not hundreds. If the proposal is approved, letters will be sent to Highland students.