STRUTHERS SCHOOL SYSTEM Pupil enrollment rules are eased to boost bottom line

The district will accept up to 75 pupils from outside its boundaries.
STRUTHERS -- In an effort to bring in more state funding, the Struthers school system next fall will accept a limited number of pupils who live outside the district under a revised enrollment plan adopted Monday night by the board of education.
The change in policy is aimed strictly at improving the financial picture of the district, which faces a projected deficit of up to $1.8 million when the fiscal year ends June 30, school officials said.
Boosting enrollment in the 1,993-pupil system would mean a boost in revenue, as the state provides $5,200 in funding per pupil, said Superintendent Sandra DiBacco. The system likely will accept up to 75 pupils from outside the district, she said.
And nearly twice that number of applications already has been received.
The school system, which unveiled its enrollment proposal in March, has received applications for 146 new pupils, DiBacco said. Some 270 applications were picked up, she said.
Criteria of the plan
Under the new plan, the school system will accept pupils from anywhere in Ohio. Priority will be given to those based on several criteria, including whether:
U A parent is a school district employee.
U The parents are district alumni.
U The pupil has siblings in the district.
U The pupil's parents work at or operate a business in Struthers.
U The pupil attends a Struthers school on a tuition basis.
Struthers resident Lee Polis, who attended Monday's meeting, questioned how the plan would help the financial situation when the average cost of educating a pupil is about $7,000.
"I want to know if I'm going to incur costs to educate students from outside the district,'' she said.
Board President Matthew Rhoads explained, "You're increasing the revenue and the costs stay the same.''
"It's my understanding we have room in the classrooms ... without sacrificing the quality of education,'' board member Joseph Edwards said.
Several citizens told board members that the school system first should have held a public forum on the issue.
Other ways to save
The open enrollment plan is but one way the board is trying to increase revenue.
School officials also are asking voters to approve an 8-mill tax increase on the May 3 ballot. The millage would generate more than $1.08 million a year.
The school district now collects about 32 mills and has a general fund budget of $15.2 million this year, Treasurer Michael Evanson said.
If approved, the levy will increase the tax on a home valued at $100,000 by $245 a year, or $21.41 per month.
The school system has been taking other measures, including eliminating positions, to save money, DiBacco said.

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