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School board approves open enrollment

School District will have slots at Lakeridge High, but not Lake Oswego High

WENDLANDLake Oswego School Board members voted 4-1 Monday night to allow open enrollment at Lakeridge High and Lakeridge Junior High for the 2016-17 school year, but opted not to offer slots at Lake Oswego High School.

School board member John Wendland, the sole “no” vote, proposed adding 20 slots for freshmen and five slots for sophomores at LOHS. Wendland said the move would give potential students the option of attending either high school and create another opportunity for revenue.

“We are leaving money on the table,” he said.

School Board Chairwoman Liz Hartman proposed a compromise, suggesting that the district make five open enrollment slots available at LOHS, all in ninth grade. But her motion was not approved, and she voted with the majority.

The decision is a change in the board’s position this past February, when members voted to allow open enrollment slots at LOHS for this school year.

Open enrollment, a state law since 2012, permits students to attend a district outside the one where they live without paying tuition. The state pays districts about $7,500 each year per student, though the amount varies depending on a student’s needs. Those dollars follow a student to her or his district of choice.

HARTMANSchool boards statewide vote each year on whether to accept transfers or offer open enrollment.

Everyone who spoke during the public comment portion of Monday’s meeting was in favor of offering open enrollment at Lake Oswego High.

“I think every student’s different, every family’s different, and choice is a great thing,” said Shawn Hunter, whose daughter is a junior at Lake Oswego High School, even though she lives within Riverdale School District boundaries.

Lake Oswego resident Gary Willihnganz echoed Hunter’s comments.

“I can’t understand how you could possibly be limiting enrollment by cutting one school versus another,” Willihnganz said.

The board’s vote followed district administrators’ recommendation to provide open enrollment only at south-side secondary schools in an effort to balance enrollment. School board member John Wallin said Lake Oswego High has its highest enrollment ever this year: 1,340 students, which is 189 more than at Lakeridge High. He compared that to a 158-student gap last school year.

“Bottom line is: We need to have a strong, healthy population at both schools,” Wallin said.

WALLINIn the current school year, 15 freshman and 10 sophomore open-enrollment slots were allocated at Lake Oswego High, and 18 of those slots were filled. The number of open-enrollment slots was unlimited at Lakeridge High and Lakeridge Junior High this year; the high school currently has 13 open-enrollment students, while the junior high has 22.

The administrative recommendation approved by the board on Monday will:

• Allow open enrollment for ninth and 10th grades at Lakeridge High and all grades at Lakeridge Junior High;

• Accept new inter-district transfers into the district at all grades at both high schools; and

• Accept tuition students at all secondary schools, but no new tuition students at elementary schools.

School board member Sarah Howell said she supports the administration’s recommendation because it provides access to both high schools through inter-district transfers. Board member Bob Barman agreed.

“I think this is great middle ground,” Barman said.

HOWELLThrough inter-district transfers, students can apply to attend school in another district without paying tuition. If that application is denied by their current school, students have to pay tuition to shift to the other district. Open enrollment does not require approval of the resident district. If a district offers open enrollment, any student may apply, although students within the district are given first priority.

Through these options, 151 students are enrolled in the Lake Oswego School District this year, 53 through open enrollment, 31 through tuition and 67 through inter-district transfer. Because tuition and state revenue amounts are roughly equal at about $7,500 per student, the added students are estimated to have brought in an extra $1.13 million or so to the district for this school year, said Stuart Ketzler, LOSD’s executive director of finance.

“The exact amount would take a lot of work to determine,” because students receive varying amounts from the state, Ketzler said. Students with special needs, for example, may receive more state funding, but those dollar figures can be misleading.

BARMAN “It’s not all upside, because there are costs involved with educating students, too,” said Nancy Duin, communications director for the Lake Oswego School District. “There are some economies of scale that measure into that.”

Duin said that in 2012-13, the district offered 28 open-enrollment slots at Lakeridge High School for freshmen only and an additional 20 slots at either high school for students who live within the city limits but not inside the school district’s boundaries. In 2013-14, LOSD had 150 open enrollment spots for new students from sixth-10th grades at Lakeridge High and Lakeridge Junior High. No limits were set on the number of students in 2014-15, though open enrollment was limited to Lakeridge High and Lakeridge Junior High.

The application period for open enrollment will be March 1-April 1. Information on how to apply will be posted on the school district website at that time: edline.net/pages/Lake_Oswego_School_District.

Also at the Monday meeting, the board approved school calendars for 2016-17 and 2017-18 and discussed cost increases related to the Public Employees Retirement System:

• School for the next two years is slated to start before Labor Day weekend, going from Aug. 30 to June 13 in 2016-17 and Aug. 29 to June 12 in 2017-18.

• Ketzler provided information on the impact of the PERS investments issue on the Lake Oswego School District. He emailed a summary of the potential cost effects to The Review on Tuesday.

“PERS investments failing to earn 7.5 percent will result in added increases in PERS costs starting in Fiscal Year 17-18, but the amount is not determinable at this time,” Ketzler’s email said. “It is theoretically possible it could be as high as $3 million for LOSD, but that would require a market crash before” Dec. 31.

Contact Jillian Daley at 503-636-1281 ext. 109 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..