Bill allows students to join school midyear


Due to the recently passed House Bill 2524, students could discover they have a few new classmates when they return from Winter Break.

Every nine weeks, waitlisted students across the state will be permitted to join the choice program as schools if there are seats available.

“Most choice and/or magnet schools across the state do not add students after the start of the school year, even though there are seats available,” Principal Rick Fleming said. “A school like West Shore is a very rigorous college-prep environment that only houses honors classes. The state [reasoned that] these programs are very attractive to [the] population.”

While this may be a relief to interested students, Fleming said he has concerns.

“It’s difficult to come in in the middle of the year and have to jump right in, especially if you were a student in a regular-track program and maybe have one or two smattering of honors classes,” he said.

AP World History and Humanities teacher Kirk Murphy said students could struggle with the high level of rigor.

“If it was a typical honors class, [it] is going to be basically the same here as it’s going to be at Bayside or Eau Gallie,” Murphy said. “Same thing with an English or math class. But if you’re looking at AP classes or something that’s a little higher level, you’re not going to know where that student is.”

Murphy said teachers’ pacing could affect how new students will adapt.

“Some teachers could be ahead, some could be behind, and you’re definitely going to run into difficulties with that type of aspect,” he said. “We [teachers] are going to put up with whatever we have to put up with. I just don’t think that’s fair to the students.”

Freshman Elena Konicki said she believes the bill will do more harm than good.

“I think it’s going to be brutal for those students,” Konicki said. “The classes in themselves, especially AP classes, are difficult enough as is. And I can’t even imagine being one of those students.”

Konicki said she thinks transferring students will not have the same advantages as others.

“I feel like these students are going to come in not knowing what everybody else already knows about, like the teachers, nitpicks and/or how they like their work done,” she said. “And so it’s going to be like starting the year fresh for some students.”

House Bill 2524 is the first bill mandating Florida choice schools to accept students throughout the school year. On Jan. 4, 2023, West Shore will gain six students: four eighth-graders and two 10th-graders.

According to Fleming, plans are in place to ease their transitions.

“To accommodate those students, we’re going to put together a welcome packet,” he said. “We’re going to try to match up a buddy system with an NHS kid or an SGA kid, and then give those students a packet, which includes a bell schedule and perhaps a planner.”

Fleming said he hopes these changes will be enough to help the new students.

“It’s going to be a challenge for our teachers and for our school in general,” Fleming said. “The bill, noble in its intent, didn’t really think through some of those challenges.”

By Rhea Sinha