The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

November 8, 2013

Ashtabula hit hard by open enrollment

Star Beacon

— All seven school districts in the county allow open enrollment, but some districts are paying for it, literally.

Ashtabula Area City Schools have the most students enrolling out to other districts and in turn they lost the most money. Their open enrollment adjustment this year, according to the school funding report from the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), is $2,283,899 lost.

According to Betsy Franklin, Education Management Information System (EMIS) Coordinator for Ashtabula and Conneaut, 479 students are open enrolled out of Ashtabula Area City Schools. 211 of those students are enrolled in Geneva Schools.

Franklin said that 171 students went from Ashtabula Area City Schools to Buckeye, 69 went to Jefferson, 16 went to Madison, and the remaining students went to Grand Valley, Pymatuning Valley, and Conneaut.

The 23 students that are open enrolling in Ashtabula schools are coming from Buckeye, Conneaut, Geneva, Jefferson, Madison, Parma and Pymatuning Valley.

“It is outrageous,” Franklin said. “If those 479 students would stay, our district would be getting the A’s on report cards. We would be the school district. The state pays about $5,700 per student, so for every student that leaves, we lose that funding.

“I do not understand why these people feel that these other districts are superior. Our schools are beautiful, our teachers are wonderful. This is Ashtabula County. We’re all the same.”

Franklin said that Geneva was the first district in the county to approve open enrollment. “I’ve watched this happen. After Geneva, Buckeye did it and then everyone did. Every year it was more and more. Then we just bled students.

“We have a lot of students doing community schools and ECOT, and when you add those on top of the open enrollment, it makes you want to cry.”

On the other end of the spectrum, Geneva Area City School District is the most frequently chosen district, with 308 students enrolling in from other districts. This means they have gained $779,579 this year thanks to open enrollment. Assistant Superintendent Brett Horvath  said the numbers are only preliminary, with no EMIS data corrections.

Nearly 74 percent of Geneva’s open-enrolled students transferred from Ashtabula Area City Schools.

33 students came from Jefferson, 21 from Madison and others came from Chardon, Conneaut, Buckeye, Grand Valley, Ledgemont, Medina, Painesville, Pymatuning Valley and Riverside.

Geneva lost 188 students to other districts so far this year, with 16 of them enrolling in Ashtabula Area City Schools. However, 67 percent (127 students) of the students enrolling out of Geneva Area City Schools chose to attend Madison schools.

The rest of the students enrolling out of Geneva are going to the following districts: Buckeye, Conneaut, Fairport Harbor, Grand Valley, Jefferson, Pymatuning Valley, Warren City and Willoughby-Eastlake.

Another district that gets most of their open enrollment students from Ashtabula Area City Schools is Buckeye Local. Of the 224 students the Buckeye EMIS Coordinator said they gained from open enrollment, about 71 percent enrolled from Ashtabula schools.

The rest of Buckeye’s open enrollment students are from the following districts:  Jefferson, Conneaut, Pymatuning Valley, and Geneva. Buckeye has 68 students enrolling out to Madison, Pymatuning Valley, Ashtabula, Conneaut, Geneva and Jefferson. Buckeye’s open enrollment adjustment is $680,521 gained.

Jefferson is another district that fairs particularly well from open enrollment, with their adjustment being a $449,578 gain. According to Lisa Pickard, Jefferson’s EMIS Coordinator, Jefferson has 144 students enrolling in, with nearly half of them coming from Ashtabula.

Other districts students are enrolling from are Conneaut, Geneva, Painesville, Buckeye, Grand Valley, Pymatuning Valley, Champion, Howland and Lakeview. Jefferson has 73 students enrolling out to other districts. Those districts are Ashtabula, Conneaut, Geneva, Buckeye, Grand Valley, Pymatuning Valley, Ledgemont, Madison, Bloomfield-Mespo and Maplewood.

Grand Valley also came out on the positive side for open enrollment with a $180,483 gain and 86 students enrolling in from 15 other districts. The districts are: Geneva, Warren, Mentor, Windham, Jefferson, Pymatuning Valley, Berkshire, Cardinal, Ledgemont, Painesville, Bloomfield, Bristol, Howland, Lakeview and Maplewood.

Only 44 students enrolled out of Grand Valley to the following districts: Geneva, Jefferson, Pymatuning Valley, Berkshire, Cardinal, Chardon, Ledgemont, Bloomfield, Bristol, J. Badger, Maplewood and Mathews.

Conneaut almost broke even with 43 students enrolling out and 41 enrolling in, making their adjustment only a $782 loss. Students are enrolling out to Buckeye, Ashtabula, Geneva, Jefferson, Painesville  and Pymatuning Valley. They are enrolling in from all of the same districts except Painesville.

Requests were made for the open enrollment data from Pymatuning Valley Local Schools, however it was not received prior to publication. According to the school funding report from the ODE, Pymatuning Valley has an open enrollment adjustment of $225,342 lost. This suggests that far more students open enroll out of Pymatuning Valley than open enroll in.