Last updated: April 24. 2014 7:17AM - 599 Views
By Robert Treynor

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In defense of

open enrollment

Dear Editor:

During the most recent Village Council meeting, the negative effects of Jonathan Alder’s open enrollment policy on “our ability to grow as a village” were called into question. Occasionally, I receive questions pertaining to the financial “drain” or “gain” an open enrollment policy can have on a district. Some people have suggested that the district should revisit, amend or even discontinue its current open enrollment practices. While we do not have information regarding the negative effects of Jonathan Alder’s open enrollment policy on the Village of Plain City, we do have facts regarding the significant benefits and “gains” received by the district and our taxpayers from the district’s open enrollment policy.

In 2005 the Jonathan Alder Local Schools Board of Education approved an open enrollment policy which allows students to attend Jonathan Alder schools if his or her family resides in another district (e.g. Fairbanks, Dublin, Hilliard, London, Southwestern). The positive financial impact to the district is clear — for each student attending Jonathan Alder schools through open enrollment, the district receives $5,745 from the State of Ohio. For the 2013-14 school year, Jonathan Alder welcomes 137 students through open enrollment, which generates $788,000 of revenue for the district. This accounts for 3.5 percent of our total income for the 2014 fiscal year. Since the implementation of the district’s open enrollment practice in 2005, the district has received $5,566,000 in revenue from the State for out-of-district students.

If the Board of Education were to reduce or discontinue open enrollment practices and make the decision to “close it’s doors” to students/families living outside of the Jonathan Alder district’s boundary lines, it would essentially result in a loss of over $780,000 of annual revenue. The burden for “replacement” of this revenue would then fall on the shoulders of local taxpayers. The loss of 137 students of a total enrollment of 2,285 students (2013-14), spread over 13 grade levels would not afford the district the opportunity to reduce teachers/staff levels or reduce class sizes, as some may suggest. A 5.7 percent reduction in enrollment would simply reduce our revenue and force the district to make additional cuts in expenditures. In other words — we would still be required to operate at our current level of staff and services offered to our in-district students with $780,000 less.

Following the staff and program reductions in May 2013, the district did not accept any new or additional students for open enrollment for the 2013-14 school year. As in previous years, the district has only accepted open enrolled students where space, staffing, supports and services allow. It is the district’s commitment to continue to balance the requests for open enrollment with the revenue generated through this policy and with the expenditures required for providing the high-quality programs and services our students need.

Our strong community, together with strong schools, creates a positive environment for our students and families who call Jonathan Alder home. The district would welcome the opportunity to provide the Village Council with additional information regarding our open enrollment policy and its impact on the Jonathan Alder Local School District.

Gary Chapman


Jonathan Alder Local Schools

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