Board decides where to allow open enrollment, transfers, tuition students

by: VERN UYETAKE - On his first day of school in September 2012, Rikiya Klasen concentrated on mastering a skill that daunts many junior high students: opening a locker.Lake Oswego School Board decided Monday to offer open enrollment next school year on the south side of town but not the north.

Board members unanimously agreed to offer open enrollment for sixth to 10th grade and tuition for all grades at Lakeridge High and Lakeridge Junior High schools. Just like this year, open enrollment will not be an option at Lake Oswego High and Lake Oswego Junior High schools, but tuition will be available. Before board members voted, Superintendent Bill Korach said, after speaking with local secondary school principals and seeing several other districts choose open enrollment, the district should at least offer tuition — despite reservations about changes to state law regarding enrollment.

“We believe we should be in the game,” Korach said.

He suggested the board offer open enrollment at Lakeridge High and Lakeridge Junior High because enrollment is lower on the south side of Oswego Lake. Open enrollment prioritizes students within a district, so if it were available at LOHS, some Lakeridge High students could transfer there, further widening the enrollment discrepancy.

Changes to state law include school districts, after prioritizing local students, being unable to limit open enrollment students by where they live, even if they don’t live nearby.

Open enrollment is “a risk with changes to the new law, but it’s worth it at this point to me,” said Sarah Howell, a board member.

There’s no cap on tuition students or open enrollment — where it’s permitted. No new interdistrict transfers will be permitted. At its Feb. 10 meeting, the board plans to consider whether to offer tuition at elementary schools.

By the numbers

Revenue from interdistrict transfers, tuition and open enrollment adds up to about $700,000 to $1 million each year. The basic state allocation for transfers and open enrollment students is about $6,500 per student per year. Tuition costs $7,000 per student per year. The state allocation changes every year, and the board votes on tuition rates annually.

This school year, there were 141 open enrollment students, 34 interdistrict transfer students and 33 tuition students.

“From the feedback we hear, great kids come to our district, and we love great kids,” said John Wendland, a board member.

As of January, enrolled at local schools were: 1,304 students at Lake Oswego High School, 1,128 students at Lakeridge High School, 758 students at Lakeridge Junior High and 900 students at Lake Oswego Junior High.

Legislators’ changes

State law recently has changed with school boards now casting an annual vote on enrollment options, which also have been altered. School district officials cannot limit nonresident students by geography or access academic records, including involvement in the talented and gifted and special education programs. Officials cannot inquire about a nonresident’s race, religion or sex and cannot ask or require a student to tour the school or participate in an interview. District officials can request: name, contact information, birth date, grade level and information about expulsions.

The Lake Oswego School District’s reciprocal interdistrict transfer relationship with Riverdale School District — student for student — will end because of changes to state law.

Open enrollment background

A student could apply to move to another district in March without paying tuition via the open enrollment option, established through 2011 legislation. The other option is for a student to apply for a transfer, and if a home school denies the application, the student would need to pay tuition to shift to the other district.

The school board offered 150 open enrollment spots for new students from sixth to 10th grades this school year. Last school year, Lake Oswego offered 28 slots at Lakeridge High School for freshmen only and an additional 20 slots at either high school for students living in the city boundaries but not the school district boundaries.

In other business at the Monday school board meeting:

  • The board voted 4-1 to support the Lake Oswego City Council’s decision regarding a proposed ordinance prohibiting “unruly gatherings” and imposing penalties on the people who host them. Police Chief Don Johnson said the out-of-control parties typically involve 60 to 250 people, usually high school or college age youths. Board member Bob Barman, who cast the sole “no” vote, said he did not feel comfortable weighing in on a city council decision.

  • The board supported Hallinan Elementary School parents and employees’ efforts to create an outdoor classroom but requested that they notify neighbors about the project.

    Jillian Daley can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and 503-636-1281, ext. 109. Follow her on Twitter, @JillianDaley.

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