Parents and guardians might find it slightly annoying to have to prove where they live to the Beaufort County school district every year, especially if nothing in their situation has changed from one year to the next.
But given the recent policy debates over student transfers, uneven distribution of students among the district's schools, possible school closings and the prospects of ever-tightening operating budgets, the district is right to demand that proof.
Add to that the long-standing issue of students from outside the county attending school here when they shouldn't.
The district's requirement is not onerous. The documents accepted as proof -- utility bills, driver's license, real estate tax bill, signed lease, military housing letter, Medicaid card, paycheck stub -- ought to be at people's fingertips.
District officials say they want to be sure students are in the right schools and that they have accurate contact information.
Making sure students are enrolled where they should be is increasingly important. It was only recently that the district began to get a handle on its policy on transfers to another school within the district. It especially was a problem at Beaufort High School and Coosaw Elementary School, which were over capacity, while other schools in the northern end of the county were well under capacity, particularly the area's two other high schools.
In March, the district tightened that transfer policy. Next school year, the district will allow only those schools with specific admissions criteria for their special programs to continue accepting students from outside their attendance boundaries. Transfers for popular programs of choice were frozen for at least a year.
The limits are expected to help district officials see where students should be attending school before they look at changing attendance zones for the 2012-1013 school year.
As for students who live outside Beaufort County attending school here, school officials have long had to be vigilant about that. Over the years, people have claimed, for example, to be living with relatives in Beaufort County in order to attend school here. State law sets out specific requirements on school attendance. An affidavit must be signed attesting to the truth of the claim.
Having to prove residency every year should help officials monitor that. And on the district's residency form, it warns that home visits might be part of the check.
But there is an odd loophole in state law. It allows a child who owns property valued at $300 or more in a school district to attend school there. In 2000, a Jasper County resident's children were enrolled in Hilton Head Island and Bluffton schools because he had purchased Sea Pines cemetery plots in his children's names. The property must be in the child's name.
In 2000 and 2005, our lawmakers tried to tighten the law, but to no avail. The bills would have raised the minimum value to $5,000 and later to $10,000 and precluded cemetery plot ownership as a real estate option.
No matter how many -- or few -- people take advantage of this provision in the law, it ought to be changed.