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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Achievement Coordinator: In-Home Checks About "Fairness"

By G. Michael Graham
Highlands Middle School. FTM file. 

Aside from pushing the graduation rate at Highlands High School to 100 percent, one of the roles of the new Fort Thomas Independent School District's Achievement Coordinator position deals with doing "in-home checks."

While overcrowding has been an issue in recent years, FTIS Achievement Coordinator Mark Goetz said enrollment numbers do not have anything to do with the in-home checks from his view.

About 80 percent of the funding for this position comes federal funding, while the other 20 percent comes from the school district. The district portion covers the time Goetz needs to do residency issue checks, said Jon Stratton, FTIS Assistant Superintendent for Student Services.

Some parents or guardians list false addresses as permanent addresses or rent in the district to do just that.

FTIS consistently ranks among the top school districts in the country.

Goetz, the recently retired Highlands Middle School Principal said that doing these in-home checks is more about fairness.

"Ensuring students live within the FTIS boundaries is a simple matter of following the law, fairness and just doing what is right," Goetz said. "Many families that send their children to our schools make a sacrifice to live in Fort Thomas. Kentucky law requires that we educate only students who live in the Fort Thomas Independent School District. In order to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars and have proper records, these checks are needed."

Since these checks started, Goetz said he did not know how many students disenrolled from FTIS. But Fort Thomas Matters staff has learned that at least two middle school students have dropped out since the start of school, which may be a direct correlation to the verification process.

The good news is these checks do not affect out-of-district students paying tuition.

Goetz said that is because those parents have been forthcoming about their out-of-district residences and are making that financial commitment to their child's education.

FTIS Superintendent, Gene Kirchner has called the Achievement Coordinator position a win-win, because the majority of the position is already paid for by the Title 1, federal funding program. "If you have someone whose job that is to see through that every student is graduating, you can definitely make some inroads there."

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