2017-07-27 / Local News

Split vote limits new pupils at G-L

By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff

The county’s largest school district has closed its doors to “school of choice” (SOC) students this year, with the exception of a few slots in the preschool and kindergarten level.

A split board voted 4-3 yesterday morning to open enrollment to four slots in the Young 5s program and three at kindergarten.

“We will not be accepting new SOC students in grades 1-12,” board President Fran Seymour reported after the meeting.

Siblings of students previously enrolled through SOC will be given preference. In the event applicants exceed the number of slots available, admission will be determined by lottery, Seymour said.

Historically, school policy has been to welcome students provided their addition wouldn’t bring class size to a level that would require creation of another section and hiring another teacher.

However, during its July 13 meeting the board discussed the SOC policy in light of several factors, including swirling talk of budget cuts in Washington, D.C., which drastically change the Glen Lake’s financial picture.

The school district receives federal Impact Aid designated for districts whose property tax base was negatively impacted by the creation of national parks, military installation or Indian reservations.

Glen Lake received $3.2 million each year in Impact Aid, that contributes to the district’s hefty fund balance — it stood at $14.7 on June 30.

The district is also unusual in that it is “out of formula,” meaning that it can generate more funding locally than what it would receive in the form of per pupil foundation allowance from the state.

For the school year just ended, more than one-third of the 717 students attending Glen Lake lived outside the district boundaries.

Without Impact Aid, Glen Lake operates at a $1.5 million structural deficit, Superintendent Sander Scott said.

Families applying for the handful of preschool and kindergarten slots available must make application by Aug. 11, the state deadline to notify families about their SOC status.

Trustees Lisa Niergarth, Cherie Hawkins and Lisa Siddall voted no on the issue. Siddall previously said that it was shortsighted to limit SOC enrollment given an overall decline in enrollment projected for the county.

The decision does not affect SOC families previously enrolled at Glen Lake.

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