Open enrollment trend reversing this year
Washington Schools Superintendent Mike Jorgensen said today that the trend of Washington students enrolling out of the district that has been going on for years is beginning to reverse itself.
Jorgensen said that the deadline to open enroll into and out of the district was March 1. He said that in the weeks leading up to the deadline, more than 40 students from other school districts had requested to enroll in Washington schools. He said within the last month 23 enrollment requests had been received, 13 the prior month and seven the month before that. Jorgensen said requests for Washington students to attend other districts are given to the other districts, which then forward them to Washington. He said that the district doesn’t know how many students are open enrolling out over last year’s count, but he anticipates fewer than 10.
“That’s a good sign,” he said. “I think we will have a very positive number of open enrolled in vs. out this year. That is a nice turnaround for the district.”
This school year, Jorgensen said, a total of about 130 students open enrolled out of the district, while about 70 open enrolled in. He said that he expects the gap between Washington students attending other districts and students from other districts attending Washington will be within about 20 of each other. He said this could mean an additional $200,000 to $300,000 in revenue for the district.
He also said the district has been coming back a little over the last few years. He said four years ago, more than 150 students had open enrolled out of the district.
Open enrollment is done when students want to attend a school district in which they don’t live. When a student leaves a district, the district being left has to reimburse the receiving district money the state pays for the student’s education. The state pays slightly over $6,000 per student.
Jorgensen said that many of the students coming into the district had come from neighboring districts, but some had come from as far away as Benton. Over half had come from the WACO school district, and many are secondary students. Jorgensen said he likes to think students are coming to Washington because of the educational benefits, such as the 1:1 computer program and the new high school.
This coming school year, the WACO school district will begin its 4+1 school week program, which is a four-day school week.
Jorgensen said that he is surprised at the high number of students he is seeing coming into the district.
“I doubt we have ever had a month where we had 23 open enrollment in requests,” he said. “That’s pretty considerable.”
Jorgensen said the main reason he has seen for students open enrolling out of the district is that their families had moved into the district and the student wants to continue going to the school they were attending. He said the district doesn’t do a survey of why people enroll out, but sometimes parents put a reason on the application.