It seems like simple common sense. Before redrawing public school zones or taking other serious measures to ease crowding, first make sure that all of the students actually belong, that they are not pretending to live within a popular school's boundary when they don't.
And once again, just as it is doing with teacher training and pay tied to the Gates Foundation grant, the Hillsborough school district appears to be leading the way in the Tampa Bay area in real-world reform. Last week the Hillsborough School Board signaled tentative support to require new arrivals at a school to definitively prove where they live — a homestead exemption or a rental lease, for example.
This issue has marched front and center now that strict class-size limits magnify the cascading effect that one new student can have on a school.
Requiring new students to prove they live where they claim they do is a sensible step. And it is basic fairness. Only after it is reasonably established that the students belong at a school should a district consider redrawing a school's boundaries, an often disruptive and politically difficult step.
And who knows? Ferreting out the students who are sneaking into a popular school could have a positive side effect. Presumably, they and their parents or guardians are seeking out the school because they believe it to be superior to the one for which they are zoned. People who are savvy enough to seek out the best school on the sly might well be motivated to pitch in and improve the school they are supposed to attend.