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Grafton still draws a crowd through open enrollment PDF Print E-mail
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Written by STEVE OSTERMANN   
Wednesday, 03 February 2016 19:16

Students coming into district top outgoing by 100 for sixth straight year

Open enrollment in the Grafton School District continues to be an attractive educational option for nonresident families.

In a report to the School Board last week, Director of Special Education and Student Services Marty Armato said the district currently has 198 open-enrollment students, just one shy of last year’s record number for Grafton.

Although 85 students living in Grafton enrolled in other districts, the net number of 113 marks the sixth straight year the district has topped 100.

In addition to underscoring the appeal of educational opportunities in Grafton to outside students, the numbers benefit the district financially, Armato told the board.

Based on an estimated reimbursement of $6,639 per student, Grafton will receive $747,551 in state aid for open-enrollment registrants for 2015-16, he said.

Among outside districts, Port Washington-Saukville has the largest number of students attending Grafton public schools with 72. The next three largest enrollment numbers are Northern Ozaukee with 44, Cedarburg with 31 and West Bend with 16.

Among Grafton students enrolled in other districts, the largest number attend Cedarburg with 39, followed by Port Washington-Saukville with 27. Nine Grafton students are enrolled in virtual schools, including four in the Northern Ozaukee district.

Supt. Mel Lightner attributed Grafton’s open-enrollment success to its ongoing commitment to quality education,

“We are a desired district, and we should be proud of it,” Lightner said.  

Under state law, since the 1998-99 school year, Wisconsin students have been able to attend a public school of their choice if their parents or guardians comply with application requirements and their application is accepted by the district they select.

However, the state budget bill has changed the open enrollment program for students with disabilities. Starting with the 2016-17 school year, the open-enrollment transfer amount given to districts for a student with a disability will be standardized at $12,000.

As a result, Armato said, a nonresident district will no longer be required to send an estimate of the cost of educating a disabled student to the resident district. Nonresident districts will no longer bill resident districts  for the cost.

Armato said the budget bill also eliminated school districts’ authority to deny disabled students open enrollment in another district based on undue financial burden.

“It levels the playing field for all students,” Lightner said. “The $12,000 may not cover costs, but it helps the special-education students who were sometimes not accepted by districts.”

The board concurred with Armato’s recommendation to make 108 open-enrollment seats available for the 2016-17 school year, including 78 at the high school.

The open-enrollment period continues through April 30.

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