By Kevin Boneske
ASHWAUBENON – The school board approved a series of recommendations Wednesday, Jan. 13, for accepting open enrollment students in 2021-22.
The board’s action was required by the end of January, prior to the open enrollment application period, which begins Feb. 1.
For 2021-22, the board set the overall number of seats for new open enrollment students at 382.
In instances when resident students move out of the district and have to apply for open enrollment to continue to attend Ashwaubenon, the board agreed to guarantee approval if they have not been habitually truant.
Board members voted not to guarantee open enrollment approval for incoming siblings of current students in the district.
Instead, those siblings will be given first priority (preference) to new open enrollment seats, but a seat will not be guaranteed.
Open enrollment designations
Keith Lucius, district business manager, presented the board with a recommendation for new open enrollment seats by grade and school building.
Lucius said the district will be able to have new open enrollment students at Parkview Middle School, where there are 45 open seats designated for grades 6-8.
He said there will also be open seats at the high school to accommodate families of current eighth-grade students who have not been able to enroll at Parkview the past three years.
Lucius said 78 open enrollment students at Ashwaubenon are seniors this year, and in grades 9-12 for 2021-22, 64 new open enrollment seats are designated.
About half of the district’s new open enrollment seats for the next school year will be at the Cormier School and Early Learning Center, with 120 designated for four-year-old kindergarten and another 74 designated for kindergarten.
Lucius said the district doesn’t expect to receive the maximum number of requests for open enrollment, and some of those seats will be filled with students who move into the district.
“We can approve additional students in June if additional seats open up due to students moving out of the district,” he said.
The overall maximum 4K-12 enrollment for 2021-22 at Ashwaubenon could be 3,476, based on board approval of the new open enrollment seats.
After years of no new open enrollment students with special education needs, the board agreed to have six open seats in 2021-22 at the middle school with three in sixth grade and another three in seventh grade.
Director of Pupil Services Tammy Nicholson said the numbers for special education students will be much higher in the eighth grade, so no new special education seats will be opened.
Nicholson said more than 50 special education students left the district in the last school year.
“It was just an anomaly that particularly doesn’t happen, so staffing-wise, we were looking at should we reduce or shouldn’t we,” she said. “And I said, ‘You know, let’s see how it plays out,’ then COVID hit. It’s like, OK, we can’t reduce now, because we don’t know where things are going to be, right? So this school year, we’ve looked at our numbers and we’ve lost some other kids, primarily at the middle school.”
Nicholson said she can’t justify the staffing ratios for special education without the addition of some open enrollment seats.
Even with the additional open enrollment seats, she said she expects one full-time special education position will be reduced in the district.
Nicholson said the district reserves the right to revoke a student’s open enrollment status if the student enters the district as a general education student and then qualifies for special education services.