Columbia County students will be allowed to request a transfer to one of seven schools next year under guidelines presented Tuesday to the Columbia County Board of Education.
The so-called "permissive transfers," created under a three-year-old Georgia law, allow students to request attendance at a different school within the same county when space is available.
Because Columbia County schools typically operate at or near capacity, few transfer spaces generally are available. For the 2012-13 school year, a total of 417 spaces will be open for students to apply to move, said School Superintendent Charles Nagle.
More than half of those spaces - 222 - are at Harlem High School, whose population drastically was reduced during the rezoning for Grovetown High School. The next higher number, 59 spaces, are available at Lewiston Elementary, previously the county's largest elementary school but which lost population after rezoning for the opening this year of the new Baker Place Elementary.
Still, not many students are expected to apply for the transfers, Nagle said.
"Under permissive transfers, they have to provide their own transportation," he said. "Usually we don't have a lot, but we have a few."
This year, with 382 spaces available, just 86 are using the transfers, said Robert Jarrell, assistant superintendent for student support.
Numbers allowed under the state-mandated program are based on the capacity of each school listed as by the state Department of Education, minus 10 percent to account for possible school growth, Nagle said.
In addition to Harlem and Lewiston, schools available for transfers are Blue Ridge, North Columbia, Riverside and Westmont elemenary schools and Stallings Island middle school.
Transfer requests must be made to the county board of education office before Jan. 31.
Also Tuesday, board members elected Mike Sleeper to serve as vice-chairman for the year, reappointed Fletcher, Harley, Fletcher LLP as as the board's legal firm, and set Jan 24 as the first date for budget discussions for the 2012-2013 budget year.