A major change for Ashland Schools Monday night as the school board votes to open its doors to students from outside the school system. It's what some are hoping will be a lifeline for the district. Laura Cavanaugh reports.
Less money, fewer students. It's been a long-term, but familiar problem that has plagued Ashland schools.
"It's been tough managing a decline in enrollment along with decline in revenue from our state," says Ashland Superintendent, Juli Di Chiro.
Despite receiving stellar marks from the Oregon Department of Education for three straight years, for the last 14 years Superintendent Juli Di Chiro has dealt with declining enrollment, which has forced the district to close schools and make tough decisions for the students of the community. Di Chiro blames it on Ashland's less than affordable housing market.
"Young families as they try to get into their first home, it usually can't happen here," Di Chiro says.
The district is funded on a per student basis. So as Ashland loses more potential families, the district is losing serious money.
"We've been losing 50-100 kids for quite some time. So when you multiply $6,000 per child, that's significant for us," notes Di Chiro.
So significant that on Monday, Ashland's School Board voted unanimously to allow students from outside the district to enroll, filling empty seats, and hopefully keeping the schools alive.
"It's certainly going to help us if we can get more kids," says Di Chiro.
"We're seeing it as an opportunity to continue to operate some of the programs we have right now."
So here is how it works. Come the first of April, families that are interested need to let their home district know they want out and apply to a participating open enrollment district. If there is an overwhelming interest, Ashland Schools may have to conduct a lottery. They will then notify families of their acceptance by the end of April.
To apply or find out more information, you can go online to the following website: http://www.ashland.k12.or.us/
and click on the open enrollment button.