County schools discuss open enrollment policies


By Alexandra Newman - anewman@aimmedianetwork.com



BOTKINS — At a recent Botkins Board of Education meeting the topics of open enrollment, class sizes, and the policies around them was brought up for discussion by Superintendent Jeff McPheron.

He asked the board their opinions on the topics and they came to the consensus to use common sense and try to stay around the 60 mark for grades particularly in the elementary.

The other schools in the county have similar policies and ideals.

“We work on a case-by-case basis always considering the variables that it takes to tweak classroom numbers and enroll the maximum student population with minimum upheaval to staff and student academic concerns,” Hardin-Houston Superintendent Larry Claypool said.

He said their district closely monitors grade levels and number of students in the classroom and special needs/Individualized Education Program (IEP) numbers so they can safely and competently service.

“Our administrative goal is to always maintain a consistent number of employees and not hire one year and RIF (reduction in force) the next due to enrollment variations. When our class size/grade level numbers reach a certain pre-identified ceiling, we close open enrollment to those grade levels,” Claypool said.

While Fort Loramie doesn’t have an open enrollment option, if someone outside the district wishes to attend Fort Loramie they must pay a tuition rate set by a formula, Superintendent Dan Holland said.

Each district must also keep in mind the students who move into the district. During the discussion at the Botkins Board of Education meeting it was discussed they needed to leave one or two spots open in case this were to happen. The new subdivision project in Botkins presents a challenge for them with people moving into the new homes, and people moving into the homes those people left.

The same rings true at Hardin-Houston.

“Many open enrollment applicants, who attempt to open enroll late, do not understand that although we would like to have their children in our building, we have to protect a few student slots in every classroom in case of last-minute or mid-year residential move-ins,” Claypool said. “We do that in order not to go over what we perceive to be numbers that allow for good teaching and student learning opportunities.”

At Russia Local School caps are set for class sizes. According to their open enrollment guidelines document, the board of education and the superintendent have the right to modify those capacity limits, and to make exceptions to the limits when special circumstances are presented by a transfer student.

For example, for the 2015-16 school year Russia set their class sizes as follows:

• Kindergarten through third grade: 23 students in a class or 46 in the entire grade level

• Fourth through sixth grade: 24 students in a class or 48 in the entire grade level

• Seventh and eighth grade: 25 students in a class or 50 in the entire grade level

• Ninth through twelfth grade: no limit

Their priority to open enrollment applicants start with students, and siblings of students, admitted to the district in prior consecutive years, and then the date of receipt of the application.

Open enrollment periods for the districts in Shelby County vary, but most are late spring to mid-summer.

Anna and Russia allow open enrollment from adjacent districts, while Botkins, Fairlawn, Hardin-Houston, Jackson Center and Sidney allow from any district. Like mentioned above, Fort Loramie doesn’t have an open enrollment option. All the public schools in Auglaize County allow from any district.

According to the Ohio Department of Education’s Office of Quality School Choice and Funding, out of the 652 school districts in Ohio, 18.1 percent of schools in Ohio have no open enrollment option; 8.3 percent allow from adjacent districts only; and 73.6 percent of schools allow any district.

More information can be found at http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Quality-School-Choice/Open-Enrollment.

By Alexandra Newman

anewman@aimmedianetwork.com

Reach this writer at 937-538-4825.

Reach this writer at 937-538-4825.