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Greendale School Board Approves 12 Additional Open Enrollment Seats

Board members split on vote to add Open Enrollment seats for 2011-12 school year.

The has approved adding twelve additional Open Enrollment seats at the elementary level for the upcoming 2011-12 school year.

They included one seat in 4th grade and four seats in 5th grade at  and one seat in 2nd grade and six seats in 5th grade at . 

District administrators presented those options to the school board at the board's August 15 meeting, saying opening the seats would help generate revenue for the district without affecting staffing. The seats would be in class sections that are currently on the low end of their target class sizes, based on current enrollment figures.

The district's target class sizes are 18-24 students in grades 1-3 and 23-28 students in grades 4 and 5. 

OPEN ENROLLMENT CHART

School Grade Sections Class Size Open Enrollment Canterbury 1 3(increase of 1) 18/19/19 0 4 2 23/24 1 5 3 22/23/23 4 College Park 3 3(increase of 1) 19/19/20 0 Highland View 2 3(increase of 1) 18/18/19 1 5 3 22/22/22 6

 

The additional sections are the result of current enrollment which is over the target class size, however the total number of elementary sections will remain the same due to some grades having lost sections.

Prior to the board's vote, Superintendent Bill Hughes told board members," Open Enrollment is the only place to increase funding for schools currently due to the current budget challenges."

Open Enrollment is funded by a transfer of state aid from the student's resident school district to the non-resident school district. This year that figure is about $6,700 per student, which would translate to approximately $80K in added revenue for the district.

Hughes went on to recommend that the board approve the seats at the 4th and 5th grade levels, but left it up to them to decide how to handle the one seat at second grade.  

Board member Anne Szcygiel stated that she was not in favor of adding a second grade student at Highland View based on growing resident enrollment. 

School Board Vice President Joe Crapitto said,"I struggle with adding students to a school that is already at capacity."

The board voted on the Open Enrollment seats in two separate votes. The first one was to approve the 4th and 5th grade seats, which passed 4-1, with Crapitto as the only 'no' vote.

The second vote, to approve the one seat in 2nd grade at Highland View, passed 3-2, with board members Victoria McCormick, Tom Slota and Jim Schutte voting 'yes' and Crapitto and Szcygiel voting against it.  

The newly approved seats are in addition to six Open Enrollment seats offered earlier this summer that have already been accepted - three in 5th grade at Highland View, one in 5th grade at and two in 6th grade at .  

The board also received an Enrollment Update at the meeting.


Canterbury

College Park Highland View Current Enrollment 2010-2011 340 286 372 Total Sections for 2010-2011
15 12 17 Projected Enrollment 2011-2012
314 301 363 Total Sections for 2011-2012 14 13 17

 

The following schools and grades are currently over target size at the elementary level and enrollment is being monitored:

Canterbury- 2nd and 3rd grades

College Park- 2nd grade

Highland View- 4th grade

 

Several Greendale residents attending the meeting voiced their concerns over the added Open Enrollment seats and the high number of students in some of the classes.

Alison Julien, a parent of 2nd and 4th graders at Highland View, said,"I am profoundly disappointed in the fourth grade class size at Highland View and disappointed that classes in three other grade levels in the elementary schools exceed the target size.  We became residents of Greendale – as did many other people we know - because of the reputation of its schools, and class sizes of 27, 28, and 29 students are not reflective of excellence in elementary education.'

David Miller, a member of the , also spoke at the meeting. He told the board the plan that was adopted for addressing the overcrowding at Highland View was not even close to anything the committee had come up with as far as a solution. He stated that he believes the board has 'kicked the can down the road' because of the likelihood that enrollment will continue to outgrow the small amount of   

Superintendent Hughes told the audience and board that the district is still looking at ways to find a new location for the Park & Rec and district offices, including ongoing conversations with village officials about the use of shared spaces. He said the district may need to use fund balances to operate programs down the road if state funding stays on the current course, rather than using the money to construct new office space. 

After the meeting, board President Slota said, "I think it was a good idea we didn't go with the original $1 million plan based on how state funding turned out. It was the fiscally prudent move to make for now, although we would still like to move the and district offices down the road."

Regarding parent concerns about some of the classes being at or over the target range, Slota said it is not that uncommon and has been the case before in the district. He said the target class sizes are a guideline, not a hard and fast rule, and that much of the determination on how many sections to have is based on the individual class makeup and teacher experience.

"Twenty-eight students is not by any means outrageous for fourth grade."

He said the schools have several options if the class sizes currently being monitored continue to grow.

Slota pointed out that building principals have been given full discretion on how to best use teacher aides in the classrooms, so that is one option should class sizes increase by just a few students. He said considering how close we are to the start of the school year, it is unlikely a large number of students would move into any particular grade at a given school, but should that happen, another option could be to repurpose one of the newly designated common spaces back into a classroom, for instance the new Reading classroom at Highland View.

He said another option is redistricting, which would shift how many students attend each school, but admitted that is never a popular option with families and is not something the board is considering at this time.

Slota went on to say the board takes parent concerns seriously, but that most parent fears at the beginning of the school year are alleviated as the year goes along and they see how smoothly their child's class operates.

He also said he feels the district must be doing something right.

"After all, Greendale is a destination district, not only for Open Enrollment families and residents moving into the district, but teachers as well."

He pointed to the large number of quality teacher applicants the district gets for each job opening as well as the high number of children currently on a waiting list to become Open Enrollment students in Greendale.

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