LORDSTOWN Staying hopeful on open enrolling

For each student who enrolls from outside the district, the career center will receive about $4,800 from the state.
LORDSTOWN -- Although only one student has applied to take advantage of open enrollment at the Gordon D. James Career Center, the superintendent remains confident the change was the right move for the district.
School board members voted in July to offer open enrollment at the career center to try to cut costs. Lordstown is the fiscal agent for the career center compact, which also includes Howland, McDonald, Niles and Weathersfield schools.
"Even if we get four students, it's still about $20,000," Superintendent Ray Getz said.
How it works: Open enrollment would reduce costs for all of the member districts because for each student that enrolls, the center would receive about $4,800 in state funding. The center's annual budget is about $2 million.
There is no tuition charged to students who take advantage of the open enrollment policy. Transportation for students from other districts is the responsibility of the parents.
Member districts pay tuition to Lordstown, which runs the center, based on the number of students attending.
The career center contract signed by the five districts expires in 2002. All of the districts except Niles have passed nonbinding agreements to extend the compact. Niles is exploring joining the Trumbull Career and Technical Center.
District records show that 238 students from the member districts are enrolled in career center programs for next year. There are spots available for 272 more students.
New deadline: The district has extended to Sept. 15 the deadline for students from other districts in the state to apply to career center programs.
Besides the Warren schools student who's applied for the diversified health occupations program, the center has received several inquiries from other students interested in attending, said Roland Purnell, career center principal.
"We figured this would be the time we'd start hearing from them, with counselors coming back to school," Purnell said.
Career center students are allowed two weeks into the school year to decide if they want to remain in their selected program, so extending the deadline isn't expected to disrupt classes.
"We expected it to be somewhat light the first year because of a lack of much time, and some students already made plans for the next year" by the time the school board approved career center open enrollment, Getz said.
Financial situation: He thinks the change was a needed step for the district, which has been in fiscal emergency since late last year.
"I'm very confident it was the right thing to do," Getz said. "This is the first week most counselors and some administrators have been back, really gearing up for the new year. I'm certainly not discouraged."

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