Phoenix-Talent Schools Lose Kids to Open Enrollment

, Posted: Thu, April 12 2012 at 5:45 PM, Updated: Thu, April 12 2012 at 6:24 PM

In 2011 Oregon Legislature passed an open enrollment law. It allows students to be admitted into neighboring school districts.   

Just yesterday, the numbers were released on how many kids are switching to Ashland through the program. Phoenix-Talent getting hit especially hard as it loses per-pupil state funding.

A possible open enrollment exodus."Ashland's a great school," says Heather Low. She doesn't live in Ashland, but works there and says she's considering the new option to transfer her kids to Ashland Elementary using open enrollment."The school district there is great, and the parents are so involved."

And on Wednesday, the Phoenix-Talent school district was hit with the numbers: out of 101 kids transferring this coming year to Ashland using open enrollment, 54 of those are from their district.
"We're not really sure what the impact's going to be. first we heard of it was yesterday," says Phoenix-Talent superintendent Ben Bergreen.

Each year the state provides 6,000 dollars per student in a district. That means, Phoenix-Talent could lose 324,000 dollars  of revenue. Bergreen tells us, "The current system, or open enrollment, kids move they take the money with them, but we try to look at what's best for kids and where they need to be as our first consideration,"

Bergreen also remarks, they're no strangers transfers, already approving 50 students on a year by year basis to Ashland. "It's not uncommon for people to go to different districts, pursuing different programs or athletics, those types of things."

For now Ashland remains the only district in Jackson County to use the program, while others wait to see what happens. "It was a new program, we currently have programs that people are transferring in for, we wanted to make sure we had adequate space," says Bergreen.

And Heather Low is excited for the possibility of more options for her kids, "I think it's a great idea."

Now, worst case scenario:  between already existing Ashland transfers and open enrollment transfers, the Phoenix-Talent school district could lose over 600,000 dollars in state funding. However, Bergreen says because of their multi-lingual programs they have kids who transfer in every year. He feels that will make up some of the difference.

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