Reynoldsburg News

Second open enrollment forum scheduled May 3

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Reynoldsburg City Schools will host a second community meeting to discuss open enrollment at 7 p.m. May 3 in the auditorium at the high school’s Livingston Campus, 6699 E. Livingston Ave.

The meeting will address the district’s financial forecast, a draft of a policy for open enrollment, and answers to questions generated at the first meeting on April 12 that drew 60 people.

“We had four, single-spaced pages of questions,” district spokeswoman Tricia Moore said.

According to the district website, school officials are looking at open enrollment as a way to “protect programs that are important to Reynoldsburg students and families” and to boost revenue. Treasurer Tammy Miller told board of education members at their April 17 meeting that a combination of circumstances resulted in an unexpected $3.6-million loss to the district.

Although voters approved an operating levy in 2010, Miller said the $6 million it was expected to generate has been reduced to a net gain of $2.4 million due to a $1.6-million cut in state funding, a $1-million loss in real estate taxes and a $1-million loss due to phasing out Ohio’s  tangible personal property tax.

The district has offset the losses by reducing expenditures, including eliminating 25 percent of its administrative, support and teaching positions since 2007.

More than three-fourths of Ohio school districts use open enrollment as a source of revenue. According to the district, Reynoldsburg would receive $5,700 per open enrollment student.

Open enrollment was discussed, but not acted upon at the April 17 school board meeting.

Resident Monica DeBrock said she has changed her mind about it.

“When I first heard the school board discussing open enrollment, I thought, ‘no way, not in our schools’ and I thought the board was off its rockers,” DeBrock said.

“Without adding any cost to our community, an open enrollment policy would bring in additional revenue and families eager for quality education,” she said. “Other Ohio districts that have open enrollment have stated the program not only brought financial stability to their districts, but also (more) parent involvement and an increase of test scores. … I believe the pros outweigh the cons.”

Moore said the district is gathering anecdotal information from other Ohio districts about open enrollment.

“We … want to make sure that before we do any policy that’s going to have any kind of an effect on the district, that we do our homework and listen to the community, and go out and look for other districts that have tried the same things and either failed or succeeded, so we have good information to make a decision on,” board President Charles Swope said.

Superintendent Stephen Dackin said open enrollment is expected to be on the agenda at the school board’s May 15 meeting at 7 p.m. at City Hall, but doesn’t know if any action will be taken at that time.

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