Moratorium on freshman transfers to GW is lifted

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A long-controversial moratorium on transfer students at George Washington High School will be partially lifted to allow all current Kanawha County eighth-graders an opportunity to attend one of the state’s highest-achieving schools.

“They’ve had a drop in enrollment. We felt this was the best way to slowly move into it and make sure the numbers don’t grow too significantly. We’ll carefully, carefully monitor it and take it one step at a time,” Kanawha County Schools Superintendent Ron Duerring said at a board meeting Monday.

The transfer ban will stay in place at the school for all other grades.

In 2012, the board voted to block all transfers into the crowded South Hills school, which consistently proves to have some of the highest test scores in the state and offers a plethora of advanced placement courses and special programs.

The board also worked to strengthen its policies concerning attendance zones over the past year, pushing for more students to attend the school they live closest to.

But last April, the school board lifted the moratorium on transfers at GW after critics said it was important to allow equal opportunities and options for county’s most engaged students.

Proponents of the moratorium were mostly worried about the impact on the county’s other high schools, saying the policy allowed for a mass exodus that prevented other schools from retaining successful students.

By June, to prevent perpetuating overcrowding, the board had to reissue that moratorium after receiving a surplus of student applications.

Some school members were doubtful that Monday’s move to lift the ban only for incoming freshmen would succeed.

“That’s not going to help very many,” school board President Pete Thaw said in special session Monday.

School board member Becky Jordon said she’s unsure of the impact it will have because John Adams Middle School’s eighth-grade class is packed, and all of those students are guaranteed a spot at GW.

“It’s a large class. I don’t know how many they’ll be able to take,” she said. Jordon has an eighth-grader at John Adams.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the board approved more than $155,000 to remove mold at Mary Ingles Elementary School this summer.

Reach Mackenzie Mays at or 304-348-4814.

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