If you grew up in Santa Monica or Beverly Hills and attended publich schools for at least four years, your child could attend schools in these high acheiving districts even if you live outside the boundaries.

The Beverly Hills Unified School District and the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District have adopted legacy admissions policies for children of former students who live outside their enrollment boundaries. The policies appear to be the first in the nation at public schools.

The programs vary slightly, but leaders of both districts say they hope to raise money by forging closer ties with alumni who may be priced out of their hometowns as well as with grandparents who still live there. In each district, nonresident legacy students will make up a tiny percentage of the student population, officials said.

Beverly Hills adopted its legacy policy on a 3-2 vote last spring, allowing the children of anyone who attended city schools at least four years and whose grandparents have lived in the city for at least a decade to apply for permits. Eleven students, among 5,100 enrolled in district schools, attend school under the program.

Fenton said he proposed the idea to reconnect the district with grandparents who live within its borders and no longer have a direct stake in the city’s schools yet are asked to vote on school measures, such as a $334-million facilities bond passed in November. Fenton also said the district needed to forge closer ties with its alumni.

To round out classes and maximize state funding, the 12,000-student Santa Monica-Malibu district has long offered permits to the children of district, city and community college employees, siblings of current students and others who moved away. After those, it also has given permits to some nonresident students without connections to the district.But the board voted unanimously in April to give alumni children priority over this last category of students, starting next school year.

“If we’re going to be giving out additional permits to students who live outside the community, the board felt we wanted to give them to people who had a tangible connection to our community,” said board member Ben Allen.

He also said the policy was a response to soaring housing prices that have hurt diversity in the district and priced out younger families. Bill Koski, a Stanford University law professor who specializes in education policy, said the preferences could widen the gap between affluent and poor districts. “The adequacy of education funding in California is problematic when even our wealthiest school districts feel they must resort to this type of thing,” Koski said.

Source: LA Times; Full Article: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-legacy16-2009may16,0,474770.story

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