Liberty BOE votes to reinstate open enrollment in district
By Robert Guttersohn
The Liberty school board voted unanimously to reinstate open enrollment, leaving to a future meeting approving the exact number of students it would allow under the program.
Superintendent Stan Watson told the board there are likely slots for 10 open- enrollment students per grade but would return to the board with a solid figure in the future.
The district would not be responsible for transporting the out-of-district students.
Board President Joe Nohra said the district needed to find a way to bring in more students especially as surrounding districts expand the number of open-enrollment students they will allow in the fall.
Board Vice President David Malone said he had spoken to several school superintendents before making his decision on open enrollment.
“They were hard pressed to speak on the negatives of open enrollment,” Malone said. “In fact, they are quick to talk about the benefits of open enrollment.”
The district, which is currently in fiscal emergency, will receive $5,700 in state foundation money per student that enrolls.
Right now, the district pays more than $1 million to other schools to teach the 281 students it lost to either community schools, education choice vouchers [from when E.J. Blott Elementary fell into academic watch in 2005] or open enrollment.
Some residents, speaking publicly to the board before the vote, were against the move, saying E.J. Blott Elementary fell into academic watch because of open enrollment.
But board member Diana DeVito said an analysis the district conducted found that the district’s open- enrollment students were better behaved and performed better academically than Liberty’s native students.
Liberty still has 81 open-enrollment students who enrolled before it closed the program in 2010.
“Kids are kids,” DeVito said. “No matter the background, we can certainly offer a quality education and make a difference.”