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Lake Oswego may close the door on open enrollment


West Linn students may be denied registration

The Lake Oswego School District approached Oregon’s new open enrollment policy conservatively this year. But Superintendent Bill Korach is now questioning whether the district should engage in it next year at all, which could affect not only enrollment, but funding. West Linn students looking to attend Lake Oswego schools may be affected.

Under House Bill 3681, Oregon’s open enrollment law that went into effect last year, a school district may choose to accept transfer students without first receiving approval from the student’s home district after annually determining the number of open enrollment slots that will be available for the following school year. Students accepted via open enrollment are then considered resident students and the district receives the state funding allocated to each student.

This school year, LOSD opened enrollment to all tuition-paying or interdistrict transfer students who were enrolled in LOSD as of March 1, 2012. It offered 20 open enrollment slots at the high school level for students in grades 9-12 who were residents of the city of Lake Oswego but not residents of LOSD, giving priority to students with high school-age siblings already enrolled in LOSD schools or with a sibling already accepted for open enrollment via lottery. The district limited open enrollment to a portion of the West Linn-Wilsonville School District north of Mary S. Young Park, north and west of Hidden Springs, Wisteria and Woodbine roads, north of Stafford Hill Drive and north of the Township 1/Township 2 boundary line, the southeastern part of the boundary that doesn’t follow any roads.

Initially, Korach had planned to recommend that the Lake Oswego School Board open enrollment in grades 6-8 at Lakeridge Junior High School and grades 9-10 at Lakeridge High School to the WL-WV School District and the area of the Portland school district within the city of Lake Oswego but outside the boundaries of the LOSD. However, after conferring with district administration and consulting district legal counsel Nancy Hungerford, Korach is now asking for more time to reconsider his previous proposal and leaning toward a recommendation of no district engagement in open enrollment of the 2013-14 school year.

By bringing approximately $6,000 of state funding per pupil to the district, open enrollment has been one of several sources of funding in the past year for LOSD, which faces a budgetary deficit projected for 2014-15.

Had Korach’s initial proposal for a slightly more liberal 2013-14 open enrollment policy been submitted to and approved by the school board, the amount of state funding brought to LOSD next year could have increased.

But at a Jan 14 school board meeting, Korach said, “I believe the area that we would be receiving students from ... is not an area that we will really benefit greatly from given the similar quality of their schools, and I don’t think it’s the best idea for us to use that as a way to try to make that as an advancement given what the downsides are.”

And, he later said, “It probably wouldn’t have a huge effect unless we were to cast the net over a much broader area than just the West Linn school district adjacent to Lakeridge.”

LOSD has until March 1 to decide on its open enrollment policy for 2014-15, if it engages in open enrollment at all. Korach said he has requested more time to submit a proposal because he wants to confer with the school board, and “because we need to look at open enrollment, internal transfers and the timing of boundary changes at the same time now.”

Both topics, Korach said, will be discussed at a work session Jan. 22.