For the 2018-2019 school year, SLA accepted 15 transfer students, including individuals from Florida and even from the opposite end of the planet from Italy.
Much like the other applicants, transfer students go through the similar interview process in order to get accepted into the community. Counselor Zoe Siswick explains potential last resorts for some children.
“Even after the fall interviews for transfer students, others still reach out which is when we try our best to interview them to see if they’d be a good fit for the spots we have available.”
Since it’s so competitive for students to get into SLA during the regular admissions process, why is SLA willing to accept students at the last minute like this?
Siswick explained that, due to the School District’s budgeting system, schools are required to have a certain number of students in order to keep their budgets and staff levels at the same level when they started the year.
A few weeks into the start of every school year, the School District performs what they call leveling. This process examines the number of students enrolled compared to the number of projected enrollment. The outcomes can include a number of students taken away or even at times added to the school.
SLA is always looking to keep the student population right around 500 students. Generally, 95% to 97% of the students who start at SLA, finish at SLA. That percentage has stayed consistent for many years.
SLA will be relocating in the next 2019 school year to The Ben Franklin High School Campus, Spring Garden which raised questions of whether or not the move will affect the number of students enrolled in the future.
“We also base our transfers on open spaces. Given the positive energy around the move, I don’t think it is going to cause much mobility in our student body, so I anticipate that we’ll have a similar number of transfers as previous years,” Chris Lehmann expands on his thoughts.
When students leave and aren’t replaced, that does affect SLA’s budget — which is the “leveling” process that was written about in the Philadelphia Inquirer. SLA is subjected to the same leveling budget process as every other school. It is good for the school to keep their numbers at the budgeted amount, but that’s not the only reason transfers are taken.
Senior Lauren Nicolella noticed an abnormal amount of disappearances with students who I used to always have classes with.
“This past week, September the 26th, the senior breakfast event was held where many students mentioned a few friends who no longer go here, it was a very emotional moment for the grade as a whole,” Nicolella expressed.
When asked about the reasoning behind this, Nicolella mentioned expulsion as well as students having to relocate for personal reasons. This gives SLA, and many other schools, several open spots to fill in every year.
Most transfers come to SLA becuase of personal relocation reasonings such as Junior Faryn Heffner who transferred from her former high school Pinellas Park high school in St. Petersburg, Florida.
“Transfering for the first time is my most changing event, although, I did not choose SLA. My mom was looking for a good school to send me to. My mom discovered SLA by looking at schools based on their performance and behavior,” Heffner indicated.
However, Principal Lehmann reminds the community of the real importance of welcoming transfers no matter how much the number differs yearly.
“The most important reason is that we get emails and calls all the time about kids who are interested in the kind of education we provide at SLA, and when we have space and can accommodate a student, I think it’s important that we do so.”
The students who have had the most profound experience at our school are often kids who started at a different high school and came to SLA. Their experiences can be invaluable to the community because they are able to frame their experience at SLA through a different lens.
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