GORDON D. JAMES CAREER CENTER School officials consider open-enrollment policy
By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
LORDSTOWN -- Schools superintendents from all of the Gordon D. James Career Center compact districts support open enrollment at the career center, to boost enrollment and stabilize finances.
A plan for open enrollment at the center was on the Lordstown board of education's meeting agenda last week. Board members rejected a resolution to rescind the district's policy against open enrollment, saying they wanted more information. That led to removal of the resolution on open enrollment.
Board member Roxanna Holton thinks the change requires approval from the other school boards.
Lordstown runs the center for the consortium that includes Niles, Howland, McDonald and Weathersfield school districts.
Proposal: Lordstown's plan was to have open enrollment by program. Open enrollment would apply to programs with vacancies. Programs that are filled with students from districts within the compact won't be open to students from other districts.
Lordstown Superintendent Ray Getz said discussions with and support from participating districts helped him decide to suggest the plan.
"Niles wants it, and they're a key player in whether Gordon D. James continues," Getz said.
All of the participating districts except Niles have passed nonbinding agreements to continue with the compact after the current contract expires in 2002.
Patrick Guliano, Niles superintendent, supports the plan Getz discussed with the other district superintendents.
"The more kids involved, the more programs you can offer," Guliano said. "It will help keep our costs down."
Change affiliation? But he said passage wouldn't have prompted him to make an immediate recommendation to the school board about whether to stick with the compact or join the Trumbull Career and Technical Center instead.
Participating districts pay tuition to Lordstown based on the number of students attending. Districts don't pay tuition to send students to Trumbull Career and Technical Center, but residents in school districts that join are assessed an unvoted property tax of at least 2 mills.
If Niles, which sends the highest number of students to the center, pulls out of the consortium, the remaining districts would have to make up Niles' share to keep the center going.
Additional support: The other districts also support the open-enrollment plan.
John Rubesich, Howland superintendent, said Getz consulted with the other districts about the proposal idea.
Allowing students from the compact districts to have first opportunity for the classes eliminates the likelihood of controversy, he said.
"Opening up the programs to other districts will maximize enrollment," Rubesich said. "I think it's going to be a good plan for all of us."
The superintendents in Weathersfield and McDonald also like the plan.
"I definitely support it," said Rocco Adduci, Weathersfield chief. "We have open enrollment here in our district, and it works out well for us." Open enrollment at Weathersfield applies to students in adjacent school districts.
The continued availability of all of the programs at the center may increase enrollment, Robert Bloniarz of McDonald said.
"If there are more kids involved to keep the programs going, it's good for everybody," he said.