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Published: Wednesday, 4/19/2006

Archbold schools opening up to outsiders

BY JANE SCHMUCKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

WAUSEON Archbold Area Local School District is opening its enrollment next school year to students in other districts in an attempt to stem the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in state funds.

It s the last school district in Fulton County to do so.

Ohio provides the Fulton County districts with about $5,400 per student per year. But if a student chooses to attend a different school district and is accepted by that district the state money follows the student.

This school year 77 students who live in the Archbold school district are enrolled in other districts. And almost $416,000 in state aid that would have gone to Archbold has followed those students out of the district.

The district can t stop those students from leaving.

But Archbold, which is asking voters for a 9.78-mill, five-year levy on May 2 ballot and has cut $1 million from next year s budget, can open its doors and try to attract that many students or more from other districts.

Fulton County s most successful district at that is Pettisville, on Archbold s eastern border. This year 20 Pettisville residents have enrolled in other schools. But the district gained 140 students from outside its borders. That s a net gain of 120 students, which is equivalent to about $648,000.

Wauseon does well too.

The district lost 74 students and gained 123 this school year for a net gain of 49 students and almost $265,000.

Evergreen had a net gain of 30 students 87 entering and 57 going out for a total of $162,000 in extra state funds.

But opening doors to students from other school districts doesn t guarantee they will come. Pike-Delta-York, Gorham Fayette, and Swanton lost more students than they gained this school year.

Pike-Delta-York gained 77, but lost 106 this school year for a net loss of 29 students or $156,600 gone to other districts.

Gorham Fayette gained 16 students, but lost 38 for a net loss of 22 and $118,800 that went elsewhere.

Swanton s losses were smaller, with 49 students coming into the district and 57 going out for a total of eight students lost at a cost $43,200.

How many students might transfer to Archbold is unknown. I wouldn t have a clue, Superintendent Ken Cline said.

The school has gotten some calls since the board voted unanimously on March 27 to accept students from other school districts. But it hasn t been inundated, the superintendent said.

On the plus side for Archbold in gaining students from other districts are its test scores. Itt has often ranked among the top in northwest Ohio along with Ottawa Hills in Lucas County.

Also, the district has more factories than many surrounding school districts and families sometimes transfer students to the district where parents work to make transportation easier.

But on the other hand, many families wanting their students to attend a different district already have chosen one they like. Many area schools have had open enrollment since the early 1990s, when it was introduced in Ohio. Archbold declined to take students from outside its borders back then, largely because it did not have space, Mr. Cline said.

That changed with the high school addition in 2000 and new community attitudes about accepting students who live outside the district, he said.



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