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Published: Wednesday, 1/5/2005

Archbold: Open-enrollment policy considered

BY ELIZABETH A. SHACK
BLADE STAFF WRITER

ARCHBOLD - Archbold Area Schools is asking residents whether it should open its doors to students from other districts.

It plans to look at the issue of open enrollment in more detail this month.

In recent years, the district has lost about $400,000 a year in state funding because about 70 of its 1,500 students transferred to other districts that do have open enrollment.

"There are winners and losers, school-district-wise," Superintendent Ken Cline said.

Archbold decided against an open-enrollment policy in 2002, shortly before adding onto the high school. Before then it didn't have space for extra students, Mr. Cline said.

Now the district is facing the prospect of asking voters for more funding. To offset the amount it loses from other districts' open enrollment policies, the district would need about 1.64 mills, or $53 a year on a $100,000 house.

District officials asked residents to let them know whether the benefits of keeping the schools closed offsets the loss in funding or the potential increase in taxes.

Mr. Cline said he received nearly 130 e-mails within a week after sending the request to a list. The opinions were split right down the middle. "It's just about a dead heat," he said.

Board President Bob Aschliman agreed. He said the district wanted to get a sense of what community residents thought about the issue before asking for money from voters.

"It will be an interesting discussion," he said.

Mr. Cline said the district would probably gain students if it approved open enrollment. The district has high proficiency test scores, often the highest in the county.

Most students that it loses go to nearby districts like Pettisville, Wauseon, Napoleon, West Unity, and Fayette. Some go for opportunities that aren't available in their home district - Napoleon and Wauseon have swimming, which Archbold doesn't - but most switch districts because it's convenient for their parents.

"A lot of it had to do with day care," Mr. Cline said. "That happens a lot more than I ever imagined." He said parents often find day care with relatives who live in another school district, or near their workplace.

Mr. Cline, who is generally opposed to open enrollment policies, said parents of students who attend the schools but don't live in the district may not be as committed to the district.

"They're making a conscious choice to put their money one place and send their children to another," he said.



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