Madison School District’s Attempt to Limit Outbound Open Enrollment, via a WASB Policy Recommendation

Fascinating: I don’t think this will help. The Madison School District 55K PDF:

WASB Policy Modifications Related to Open Enrollment Recommended changes to the current WASB resolution on open enrollment (Policy 3.77):
Current f.: The options for the districts to limit the number of students leaving the school district under the open enrollment program, if the school board believes that number is large enough to threaten the viability of the district.
Proposed f.: The option for the districts to limit the number of students leaving the school district under the open enrollment program, if the school board believes the fiscal stability of the district is threatened.
Rationale – As school districts are confronted by a combination of revenue limits and declining state aid, fiscal issues are overriding attention paid to the educational programs offered to our children. The law originally limited open enrollment transfers to 3% of a district’s total enrollment and was designed to provide parents with enrollment options for their students.
Now, districts lack the flexibility or capacity to adjust to large scale student population shifts. Districts already fiscally weakened by nearly two decades of revenue limits, and more recently, cuts to general state aids – particularly in small, rural districts – are left with the options of dissolving the district, or Draconian cuts to the educational program.
Current i.: The WASB supports a clarification in state statutes to limit the number of students enrolling in nonreSident school districts to 10 percent of the resident district membership.
Proposed i.: The WASB supports limiting the number of students enrolling in nonresident school districts to 3 percent of the resident district membership.
Rationale – The law originally capped open enrollment to 3% of a district’s total enrollment. This change returns control of open enrollment transfers to locally elected school board members. If districts choose to limit open enrollment transfers to less than 3%, correspondingly, a district would have to use the same method/policy for accepting students through open enrollment. **********
Proposed i: The WASB supports a fiscally neutral exchange of state dollars in open enrollment transfers.
Rationale – Current law requires that a sending district pay the receiving school district approximately $6,500. The $6,500 payment is the estimated statewide cost of educating a student; however, in practice this amount doesn’t really reflect the costs of educating a student in the receiving district, or takes into account the loss of revenue to the sending district.
The law could be changed by lowering the dollar amount to $5,000, or the amount of state aid per pupil received by the sending district in the prior year, whichever is less.
While the WASB supports public school open enrollment, participation in the program should not be a fiscal hardship. The current state/nation fiscal climate and local economic circumstances confronted by school districts, has dramatically changed the fiscal equation and requires modifications to the state’s open enrollment law.
Approved by the School Board of: Madison Metropolitan School District Date: 9/13/10
kt:4tf,s;:.C~ Signed: (Board President)

Related: Madison School Board Discussion: Private/Parochial, Open Enrollment Leave, Open Enrollment Enter, Home Based Parent Surveys.

The essential question: do these proposed open enrollment changes benefit students, or adult employment?

4 thoughts on “Madison School District’s Attempt to Limit Outbound Open Enrollment, via a WASB Policy Recommendation”

  1. Gayle Worland takes a look at the Madison School District’s efforts to limit outbound open enrollment:
    Thinking about an alternative reality, how might current policies play out if Madison’s programs attracted students? Further and interestingly, Madison retains local property and federal tax dollars when students leave.
    She quotes Madison school board member Ed Hughes after noting the recent outbound numbers:
    Madison had a net loss of 435 students through open enrollment in 2009-10, up from 288 in 2008-09 and 152 in 2007-08.
    “Our goal isn’t to tell people they can’t seek out the schools they think are best for their kids,” Hughes said. “Our goal is to make sure we’re treated equitably.”
    “And if people have concerns about our own schools, we need to address those concerns,” he said. “If they’re based in reality, we need to make changes. If they’re based more on perception than reality, then we have to address the perceptions. We understand certainly that our responsibility is to make our schools ones that everyone in Madison finds attractive, offering good experiences for their kids.”
    Two Madison School Board seats will be on the April, 2011 ballot. Ed Hughes and Marj Passman occupy them today. I’ve not heard any announcements from them, though I would be surprised if they did not run again.
    The essential question remains: does the time spent on this initiative rather than say, reading or math results, or a 5 year budget, benefit students or adults?

  2. At our meeting last night, the School Board unanimously rejected the proposed recommendation to the Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB) that it advocate for limiting the number of students eligible to open enroll in nonresident school districts to three percent of the resident district’s total enrollment. More here:

  3. Ed, thanks for posting. Here’s a direct link to Ed’s remarks on the outbound enrollment matter.
    I have reservations about this aspect of the Board’s action:
    “and that it also support limits on open enrollment for school districts whose school boards believe that the district’s fiscal stability is threatened by the number of students leaving through open enrollment (which isn’t the case in Madison).”
    Open enrollment’s effects on Madison’s $15,241 per student expenditures are different than Wisconsin Districts that spend far less. The essential question remains: what is best for the students: perpetuating Districts or offering more education choices?
    Finally, Ed makes a useful point about local media coverage of the issue – no followup to date after the Board’s vote.

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