By Timothy Cox
Coldwater school district officials are looking at open enrollment as a way of propping up the district budget and meeting demand by people in neighboring districts.
School board members meeting this week agreed to renew past discussions on the open enrollment issue. Further discussion is expected and a decision is possible at the board's Dec. 14 meeting.
Open enrollment briefly became a hot topic in the district a couple of years ago when the district fielded numerous requests about the issue in the wake of school levy failures and a building closure in the neighboring Celina City Schools district. At that time, school board and administration officials said they could not allow open enrollment because of a pending building project. They agreed then to revisit the issue when the expansion and renovation project is finished.
Superintendent Rich Seas has asked school board members to renew discussion on the issue early. Even though the renovation and expansion project is more than a year from completion, administration officials are confident the district can absorb some influx of students.
"Currently, the Coldwater Exempted Village School District doesn't have open enrollment. Given a decline in student enrollment (locally and countywide), requests from individual families adjacent to the Coldwater school district for open enrollment, and with the completion of the new and renovated facilities, it make sense for us to take a serious look at open enrollment," Seas said. District Treasurer Sherry Shaffer said she receives two dozen or so telephone calls annually from people asking about open enrollment.
"Ever since I've been here, I've fielded those kinds of calls from folks," Shaffer said.
If board members give the go-ahead to open enrollment, the new policy could be in place as soon as the start of the 2005-06 school year.
The district would gain revenue by allowing students living in other districts to attend classes in Coldwater tuition-free. The current per pupil state funding rate if $5,169, although in the case of open enrollment, that figure would be reduced based on a state formula.
Funding issues involving open enrollment cases are handled by the state, Shaffer said. Open enrollment students are shown on Education Management Information Systems reports that local districts file with the state. Based on those reports, state funding is reduced for an open enrollment student's home district and increased in the student's new district.