EDITORIAL: What open enrollment shows us
By Ben Rodgers
From now until April 30, parents have the opportunity to select a different school district for their children to attend other than the one they live in – well sort of.
The state’s open enrollment period is now open, but not all area districts are.
For example, West De Pere is entirely closed to open enrollment for the 2019-20 school year.
That means, unless you live in the West De Pere School District, or are allowed in through special school board action, your children can’t enroll there.
So what does that tell us about West De Pere?
“This year is no different than the past four where capacities and our growth don’t meet, so the fact of the matter is we’re closed in regard to open enrollment, for the most part,” said West De Pere Superintendent John Zegers.
Simply put, the district lacks the seats for students. This is not a bad thing.
It means the district is a popular one, and there is some reasoning behind that.
West De Pere voters recently passed two referendums to fund two new buildings and various district upgrades.
Having voters that support the schools in a community is a good sign and should be taken into consideration when deciding where you want your children to attend school.
The Howard-Suamico School District is also limiting open enrollment to honor a commitment it made to stakeholders during its recent successful referendum campaign to keep class sizes small.
“This recommendation is in line with the referendum community task force’s recommendations to curtail open enrollment into the school district,” said Mark Smith, HSSD assistant superintendent of organizational development.
Howard-Suamico schools have 60 open spaces for 4K and 40 at the high school, with no openings at the elementary levels.
Again, this shows the district’s commitment to keep class sizes small to allow for maximum learning potential from students.
You’ll have tough sledding to enroll your children in the De Pere Unified School District, unless they are in high school.
There are 25 open spots for 4K, none for elementary through middle and no cap for high school.
This is due to growth in the community.
In the past, the Ashwaubenon School District has had the perception that the schools are generally open for enrollment, but that is starting to change.
“At some point, we almost have to get the word out, or if you don’t get the word out, you’re going to have people applying and then be turned away,” said Michelle Garrigan, Ashwaubenon school board treasurer.
Eighth grade at Parkview Middle School has only five openings, while grades 9-12 have 84 open seats for those not already attending Ashwaubenon under open enrollment. From 4K-4 the district has 180 new open enrollment seats available.
This shows the trend that more resident students are in the district than before, which is the only way to guarantee enrollment in a school district by living there.
Make no mistake, school enrollment is a complicated issue. To effectively calculate enrollment numbers, a myriad of factors need to be considered. Having a master’s degree with a decade-plus of experience also helps.
I didn’t even touch on special education enrollment, which is also limited at area schools.
But the underlying takeaway from looking at these numbers shows young families are flocking to the communities around Green Bay.
After all, it’s the only way to guarantee your child a seat in the classroom.