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HSSD has few spaces for open enrollment

By Ben Rodgers

Staff Writer

SUAMICO – There won’t be much room for students who plan to open enroll into the Howard-Suamico School District for the next school year.

The school board learned at its Jan. 29 meeting that class space is limited and as a result so are available openings.

“We’ve reached the saturation point in terms of school size, grade size and individual class size,” said Damian LaCroix, superintendent.

The open enrollment period starts on Feb. 5 and allows students from outside the district the chance to attend HSSD schools.

However, per Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction rules, the district can deny students based on capacity.

For regular education open enrollment students for the 2018-19 school year HSSD will have 60 spaces in 4K and 56 spaces for high school students.

The projected enrollments for all other grade levels are over capacity.

LaCroix said 86 percent of 4K open enrollment students leave after one year, and then 40 percent of the remaining open enrollment students leave after attending elementary school after one year.

“A lot of those students, in fact the vast majority, do not stay with us long term,” he said.

Previously the district allowed more students the ability to open enroll, although the funding from the state is roughly 1/3 of that of a resident student.

According to LaCroix the lower numbers will provide the district with some class size relief as well as provide additional services to the students already enrolled.

“I love the thought behind it,” said Mark Ashley, board president. “We’re balancing our responsibility to the larger community as well as the responsibility to our leadership, and the timing to how it’s being phased makes a lot of sense to me.”

Per policy, HSSD will still be able to accept students who move into the district as well as siblings of students already enrolled.

“For now we feel this is the best approach to take,” LaCroix said. “We’ll come back next January and give you an update.”

The district also has limited enrollment space for students with disabilities and those students who would be learning English. Those numbers are based on specific needs of the students.

At the meeting the board also learned about ways administration monitors and tracks student achievement.

At the high-school level across the state a lot of emphasis has been placed on ACT scores.

This is the third year all juniors are required to take the college entrance exam.

“For us it’s not so much about the average, that’s important, but it’s really about what the plan is, where you want to go and how to plan it,” said Mike Frieder, Bay Port principal.

For example, a student who scores a 23 would likely get accepted to UW-Green Bay, while the same student would need a 33 out of a possible 36 to have a chance at a school like Harvard.

“That is our challenge to make sure each kid has an appropriate challenge, and to know to get into xyz place that need an appropriate score to get into the ball park,” Frieder said.

Bay Port students use an online tool called Naviance, where students can select schools they are interested in attending and what the average ACT scores, among other things, are required of students who currently attend.

Bay Port also offers a variety of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate for all students, which would help gear them up for the ACT.

The district allows all students the opportunity freely enroll in those classes, even though the challenge may be harder.  

“Personally I’ve taken a lot of AP classes,” said Rachel Ceaglske, student representative for the board. “I learned the most in those classes because they’re the most rigorous, they cover the most material and usually you’re surrounded by a lot of driven students.”

Finally, the board heard from Amanda Waldo, coordinator for teaching and learning, about a prototype program at Lineville Intermediate School.

Waldo is working with Phil Hart, Lineville principal, on two fifth-grade math classes.

“We have students in the classroom who are at all different skills levels in that domain, so teachers are doing their best to personalize the learning for each and every one of those children,” Waldo said.

Those teachers are using real-time data to meet the needs of students, but Waldo has found they want more data to better observe the learning process.

“The most important role we have has district leaders is to engage building leaders in a comprehensive data analysis,” Waldo said.

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