Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

Please Elmbrook, fewer open enrollement students, not more

Education, Elmbrook, Elmbrook: nonresident students, High Schools, TAXES

When I read the Community Watch posting, Board considers change in Open Enrollment* headline, I thought, at last they are starting to "get it".  (*Sorry, this is not a perm. link)

I thought the posting was going to state that the board would be reducing the number of non-resident students. I was half right, but the posting was not exactly what I expected.

Certain board members, Sylla and Schwei, are actually proposing that the number of non-resident students increase instead of decrease!  Elmbrook's current policy is to give preference to Open Enrollment students' siblings but not to guarantee siblings a place in Elmbrook schools if no open seats exist.

According to the posting, "Cheri Sylla said the lack of open seats hurts some nonresident families who have sent all of their children to Elmbrook high schools." 

I have to ask, what about the hurt to Elmbrook taxpayers? Remember, Elmbrook taxpayers must pay the difference between the state reimbursement of about $5,500*/Open Enrollment student and the real cost per student in the Elmbrook School District of about $13,000! That means for each Open Enrollment student, Elmbrook taxpayers must kick in around $7,500. (*The exact reimbursement figure of $5,435 for 2005 was supplied to me by Bob Borch last spring.) And let's not forget that one of the reasons we are looking at a high school referendum is because of "crowding".

Steve Schwei, always one eager to increase enrollments at any cost to Elmbrook taxpayers--even if that means building more schools, dismissed the effect of Cheri's request.  Not because there are not many siblings who would want to attend Elmbrook schools, but because "most siblings enter during elementary school". Most siblings are already IN OUR SYSTEM!

Thankfully, not all of our board is supporting this change. Board President Meg Wartman seemed wary of making a change that could increase the crowding at the high school level.

Tom Gehl did not support the sibling guaranteed enrollment. Patrick Murphy and Glen Allgaier wondered about the expense of making this change and the crowding issue. 

The exact number of proposed Open Enrollment students would be 46 for this year. The posting stated this was a "downward trend". According to some correspondence with Bob Borch from 2007, the figure from 2006 was 80 new students.

Keep in mind that 46 is not the total number of Open Enrollment nonresident students in Elmbrook, it is just the additional new students for the year. The total number of nonresident Open Enrollment students in 2007 was 430. (FYI we also had and additional 294 nonresident Chapter 220 students last year too.) 

The whole nonresident student issue is a very important one to the Elmbrook School District and the Elmbrook taxpayers. A total of around 720 non Elmbrook School District students is not to be dismissed lightly. These students crowd our schools and use our support services. Student population is one of the driving forces for our high school needs.

Contact the board and let them know how you feel about nonresident students in Elmbrook. They could vote on this Jan. 22.

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Links: Betterbrookfield, Brookfield7


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