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School boards approve open enrollment

Applications to be accepted next month

Photo Credit: FILE - Otto Petersen Elementary School has additional capacity for students coming from outside the Scappoose School District, according to Superintendent Stephen Jupe on Monday, Feb. 23.School boards in the Scappoose and St. Helens school districts approved open enrollment for the 2015-16 school year this week.

Applications for open enrollment will be accepted next month, from Sunday, March 1, to Wednesday, April 1, giving families from outside either district the opportunity to get their children into the schools.

In Scappoose, there are 25 available slots per grade level in kindergarten through third grade, 50 slots in fourth through eighth grade, 20 slots in ninth through 11th grade, and 15 slots in 12th grade. If the number of applications exceeds the number of slots available in any given grade level, the district will make selections by lottery.

St. Helens opted for a more conservative approach, providing up to 40 open enrollment slots districtwide — with no openings in kindergarten or for the alternative Columbia County Education Campus and Columbia River Youth Corps programs. The district can also reject applicants if they would cause a particular class to exceed its target size.

“It’s always the danger of high-cost kids, and the fact that we offer more programs makes it that we’re the school district of choice for people needing special programs,” St. Helens Superintendent Mark Davalos said, explaining his recommendation Wednesday, Feb. 25.

Scappoose Superintendent Stephen Jupe told his school board Monday that he recommended a high number of open enrollment slots for middle grade levels because of the district’s projections.

“Our middle school really does need some kids in those grades, and I think we’ve still got some capacity for sure in Petersen,” said Jupe, referring respectively to Scappoose Middle School, which serves seventh and eighth grades, and Otto Petersen Elementary School, which serves fourth, fifth and sixth grades. “We’ve got some low years coming through in those middle grades.”

Applicants for open enrollment will be informed by May 1 whether or not they have been accepted.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include the St. Helens School District.