DARKE COUNTY — Quite a number of area students are opting to attend classes elsewhere through the open enrollment program, which allows
Mike Gray, superintendent of Darke County Educational Service Center, said his office has no jurisdiction when it comes to applying for open enrollment.
“Application is done at the individual school,” he said. “Is there controversy? It depends on who is getting the kid or not getting the kid. It’s a drawing card for a lot of districts. Franklin Monroe has the most open enrollment of students.”
Gray said there could be a limit as to who is accepted at a particular school.
“They may not have enough room for them or not enough teachers,” Gray said. “The superintendent of each school dictates whether they come to their school or not because of availability.”
Money that schools receive for their open enrollment participation comes from the state foundation, Gray said. It’s in the $5,000 range per student, he added.
Gray’s brother, Dave, superintendent at Franklin Monroe, said the preliminary attendance count this year there is 792 students.
“Open enrollment students number 214 and the outgoing is 54, so we’re netting 160,” Dave said. “That’s up a little bit from last year. We’ve turned people away.”
He said those wanting to participate in the open enrollment program represent mostly the early ages.
“We didn’t get many high school students,” he said. “Our special ed units are full as are our fourth- and fifth-grade classes. This year, we have all-day/every-day kindergarten and had to add another class.”
Tri-Village Superintendent Tony Thomas reported that there are 760 students in classes there this year with an open enrollment of 82 students. He pointed out those figures do not include Miami Valley Career Technology students and those from alternative schools.
“We have 82 outgoing, so we are at plus-40,” Thomas added. “We have had the policy since before it got here, so it’s a positive for us. We usually have between 40 and 50 open enrollment students.”
Joe Sholler, Arcanum School superintendent, reports there are 1,033 students there with 117 of them in open enrollment.
“That’s up 19,” he said. “Outgoing is 100. We pick up kids from such schools as Ansonia, Centerville, Eaton, Franklin Monroe, Greenville, West Milton, Tri-County North, Northmont, National Trail and Tipp City. We turned away a handful this year.”
David Vail, superintendent of Versailles Exempted Village Schools, said there are 1,427 students enrolled there this year. That includes approximately 27 open enrollment students. However, 25 in open enrollment are gone from last year.
“It’s not controversial too much because the numbers are stable enough,” he explained. ““It’s not a bad deal for either district. We try to keep open enrollment students here. We honor our board policy as far as class number so as not to overburden our teachers. Once students get to their junior/senior years, classes are flexible.”
All of the schools in the county limit the number of open enrollment students, and have had to turn away because of class sizes and teacher availability.
There are a lot of variables when it comes to having reasons for the move. It’s Vail’s belief that some used to go here and want to continue here and some had bad experiences.
Lisa Wendel, superintendent at Mississinawa Valley reported that there are 722 students attending M-V this year in pre-K-12.
“As for open enrollment, we have 63 outgoing and 31 coming in,” she said. “A lot of our students are going to digital schools.”
She also noted that some of the pupils are choosing to attend schools closer to where their parents work.
Jim Atchley, superintendent at Ansonia, advised there are 701 students attending classes there this year. Of that total, 114 are through open enrollment, and he estimates 85 are outgoing.
“That’s 12 percent of the student population,” he said.
Both Atchley and Dave Gray said most of their open enrollment students like the small school atmosphere and know that their schools offer quality education.
Sholler said he’s guessing that some were attracted to their new school building and technology.
“It’s an opportunity for students to get a good education,” he said. ”We had to turn away a handful.”
Why are students wanting to change school districts?
“I think a lot of it is personal reasons,” the county superintendent said. “A lot of them transfer because their parents graduated from there or some schools in which a student lives is physically closer to the school than his/her own school district. Or, their friends they play summer athletics with go there. I think mostly it’s a personal preference.” Thomas said the reasons they give to move to another district is a case-by-case situation.
“(When they apply) they usually put ‘for education reasons’,” Thomas said.
Go to advocate360.org to watch the exclusive video on what Darke County residents think about open enrollment.