Recently I received the board packet for next weeks school board meeting. In the packet is a breakdown of information pertaining to school choice and open enrollment. The inofrmation provides a history of open enrollment in the district, current interest from students who have requested to attend a Charter school rather than their intended area elementary, and a breakdown of student population at each of our schools by ethnicity. All of these charts provide information that more people beside the board should be reading. I would encourage you to visit the VASD website and review the documents.
The thing that actually has grabbed my attention more so than the documents provided was a conversation I had with one of our administrators. With the recent change to the open enrollment period, Wisconsin law mandates that the school district must identify open spaces within the school district by the end of February. This has moved up the planning timeline significantly for our schools. Further, next year the numbers will need to be in even earlier. It made me wonder why the push to have those numbers so early? Is the state legislature trying to reduce the number of open enrollees? I think not. I think it speaks more to the private and virtual school lobby efforts. By forcing districts to identify space as early as January, it makes the traditional district more conservative on their numbers of open enrollments they can take. In doing so, what happens to the students who normally would have been accepted? Virtual schools become an awfully appealing option as do private schools. I hate to make this sound like conspiracy but in light of many other things happening in our state, one does have to wonder.
Verona Area schools have benefitted from open enrollment due to a reputation for quality education. This earlier deadline is going to make it more difficult to accept and admit open enrollment students which will affect our funding streams and bottom line budget. We will keep a waiting list of names for those students who do not get admitted right away based on space availability, but it would be better if we were able to have more time to see how the numbers play out. Hopefully we will be able to accommodate the requests we receive so students wishing an education through Verona Area schools shall receive the opportunity as long as it is cost effective.