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Open Enrollment

To the Parents and Students of Russia Local School,
 
As we approach the March 1st ~ June 1st open enrollment application period, we would like to provide more information concerning open enrollment in general, and specifically how it is implemented at Russia Local School.  Open enrollment was initiated by the Ohio General Assembly in 1994 in an effort to expand school choice.  Public school boards in the state of Ohio have three options regarding open enrollment policy.
 
             Option 1 - Boards of education may entirely prohibit open enrollment.
             Option 2 - Boards of education may allow open enrollment from all adjacent districts.
             Option 3 - Boards of education may allow open enrollment from all Ohio districts.
 
These three options apply only to the acceptance of students into your district.  School districts cannot restrict resident students from leaving to open enroll to another district.  Besides a handful of exceptions, the accepting district may not discriminate by language, athletics, academics, handicaps, behavior, etc., when accepting students.  If a school district chooses to accept any open enrollment students at all, policy must be developed to address the following three areas:
 
       1.  Capacity limits by grade level, school building and education program.
       2.  A requirement that resident students be given preference over adjacent
            district students.
       3.  That adjacent district students previously enrolled will be given preference
                  over the first time open enrollment applicant.
 
The Russia Local School has chosen Option 2 listed above; we allow open enrollment from adjacent districts only.  We currently have a positive open enrollment balance of 43 students which generates approximately $225,000 for our district.  Grade level limits have also been established as listed below:
 
             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
 
So, for instance, each year we determine the number of kindergarten students from within the district.  If there are less than 46 in-district students, we next accommodate tuition paying students, which includes children of staff members as they are admitted on a tuition-free basis (the current tuition established by the State of Ohio is $3,177).  If there are still less than 46 enrollees, we next accommodate open enrollment students up to our maximum of 46. 
  
Open enrollment applications are prioritized as follows:
 
1.      Students and siblings of students admitted to this District in prior consecutive
      years shall be given preference over first time applicants.
2.      Date of receipt of the application.
 
Recently, some of our elementary class sizes have approached class size limits.  What options does the Russia Local School have in addressing this situation?
 
1.      Maintain existing class size limits by accepting open enrollment students up to
        our maximum.
2.      Accommodate all open enrollment requests by allowing class sizes to increase
beyond our grade level limits without increasing staff.  In effect, raising or
ignoring our limits.
3.      Accommodate all open enrollment requests by allowing class sizes to increase
via the hiring of additional teaching staff.
 
Number three fails from a financial perspective.  We do not anticipate in-district enrollment growing beyond our class size limits on a consistent basis.  We would thus be attempting to subsidize a new teacher, classroom and materials based entirely on open enrollment dollars.  While we receive state funding in the range of $5,403 for each open enrollment student, this does not fully cover the cost of educating a student.  Open enrollment is only financially viable when it does not require the hiring of teaching staff, otherwise, the fact that there are no real estate or income tax dollars associated with open enrollment students makes this cost prohibitive for the district.
 
Number two would be beneficial financially but fails from an educational and staff morale perspective.  Existing class size limits were set because it was felt that this was the maximum number of students that can be effectively taught by a single teacher.  Exceeding these maximums could lead to less effective instruction as well as staff turnover and morale problems.  This also raises the question of forcing local taxpayers to accept overcrowded classrooms in order to accommodate students that pay taxes to another district.  This is a very sensitive issue both educationally and financially and is not an option the board wishes to pursue.
 
Number one, maintaining our existing class size limits by accepting open enrollment students up to our maximum, is the choice that best balances the educational goals and the financial realities of our district.  This choice is consistent with our present policy and will be strictly adhered to regardless of whether an individual student or their siblings have attended Russia School via open enrollment in the past.  We regret any inconvenience this could cause a family, but we feel it is the only fair way to meet our commitment to the students, teaching staff, and taxpayers of the Russia Local School District.
 
If you would like more information on this topic or need an enrollment application, please call or stop by the school office.  Please remember that the open enrollment application period begins on March 1st and ends on June 1st.
 
Sincerely,
 
 
Steve Rose
Superintendent
Russia Local School
ĉ
Marcus Petitjean,
Jul 7, 2017, 8:04 AM