Letters- Stop open enrollmentIt looks like the school district's overpaid lawyer made more than a few gaffs at last week’s meeting.
By: Marion Shaw, Hudson, Hudson Star-Observer
It looks like the school district's overpaid lawyer made more than a few gaffs at last week’s meeting. On top of telling us that the board could remove Sandy Gehrke, which they can't, Mr. Waldspurger presented his “professional” opinion about open enrollment. His “independent” findings were that Hudson School District is bound to accept these applications if there is room at any level in the school. Keep in mind who pays him to give this opinion, the administration with no short term space solutions.
Does Waldspurger make the decision on open enrollment appeals in Wisconsin? Nope. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction does. Hyperlink "http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/118/51/5/a/1; Wis. Stats. 118.51 (5) (a) 1 guideline states that….. “the nonresident school board may consider: the availability of space in the schools, programs, classes or grades within the nonresident school district. In determining the availability of space, the nonresident school board may consider criteria such as class size limits, pupil-teacher ratios, or enrollment projections established by the nonresident school board and may include in its count of occupied spaces…” In a nutshell, there is ample latitude for squelching some of the applications if our schools are nearing capacity.
When the open enrollment expert at DPI was consulted via telephone, she offered additional explanations as to how some districts in Wisconsin use future projections in a cast forward cohort formula for denying open enrollment applications in a lower grade. Admitting there would be no guarantee that if a family appealed the decision that the school district would win, she stated it still is a common method to deter overcrowding. If it can be done, then why won’t the Hudson School District deny these applications?
Looking at the potential plans for a high school at St. Croix Meadows, it is apparent that glorified athletic facilities are a focal point. If you look up the Elk Grove, Calif., high school, open enrollment was the precise method utilized for building an elite baseball team and justifying their new high school. A little closer to home in Beloit, the Beloit Turner school district admits the influx of finances due to their open enrollment allows them to expand their athletic facilities. When you ask the Hudson School Board or Administration if finances are the driver for accepting these open enrollment applications, they just look at you like a deer in the headlights.
Marion Shaw, Hudson