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Residents speak against plan for open enrollment



Published: Tue, April 26, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Trustees got an earful, even though they have no vote on the matter.

AUSTINTOWN -- A group of residents opposed to an open enrollment proposal for the school system publicly trashed the idea and vented some frustration Monday before the township board of trustees.

While the trustees have no vote on the enrollment policy, they provided an audience for nearly a dozen citizens, some of whom complained that the school board would not let them speak at a recent workshop on the issue.

Resident John Senzarin described the school board "presumptuous and arrogant," saying the enrollment idea literally doesn't add up.

The school system will receive about $5,300 for each new pupil brought into the system, but the average cost to educate each pupil is $7,500, he said. "I don't know how they will make sense of this and still provide a quality education.''

The school board is scheduled to vote May 17 on a plan to accept pupils who live outside the district. School board President Brad Gessner said recently that the plan is still being drafted.

Becoming popular

The move to open enrollment has become commonplace in Ohio as school systems seek to bring in more revenue. Proponents say it brings in much-needed dollars while lowering the average cost to educate each pupil.

The Austintown district is facing a projected deficit of $1.2 million, even after eliminating 10 teaching positions and making other cuts.

Resident Mark Cleland made clear his opposition to the plan Monday.

"I say no to open enrollment. If they pass it, I will campaign against any new taxes."

Citizens said the plan would have a negative effect on property values and the quality of the school system.

Township trustees Lisa Oles and Bo Pritchard said they oppose open enrollment. Pritchard said he's convinced citizens would rather pass a 1 mill tax than have open enrollment.

Trustee Chairman David Ditzler said he hasn't seen a draft of the proposal, but: "My first gut reaction is I oppose it. I see all the negatives."

And he offered a prediction: "I think when the board of education sits to vote, they won't vote for it either."




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