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South Range to offer open enrollment

Published: Wed, January 9, 2013 @ 12:09 a.m.

By Ashley Luthern



South Range is combatting dwindling class sizes and declining revenues by offering limited open enrollment in the upcoming school year, officials say.

The school board voted Monday to open enrollment to kindergarten through sixth-grade students in adjacent districts.

“The rationale is we need to run at capacity to be efficient academically and financially,” Superintendent Dennis Dunham said.

The district averages about 105 students per graduating class, but this year, only 58 students are in first grade and 70 in kindergarten.

“Our enrollment has declined significantly. ... We’re trying to sustain the programs we have in place now,” he said. “... We have fixed costs like all districts do, and we’re operating with less kids.”

The district is facing an $850,000 deficit in fiscal year 2014 and by adding open enrollment, “we would have the funding available to eliminate that deficit without changing fixed costs and in lieu of a new operating levy,” Dunham said.

If classes are brought up to capacity, the district is projecting it will generate about $1 million.

South Range was one of the few Mahoning Valley schools without open enrollment. All public schools in Trumbull and Columbiana counties offer some form of open enrollment.

The only local public schools that do not offer open enrollment are: Boardman, Campbell, Canfield, Poland and Springfield.

John Fromel, school-board president, said the open- enrollment decision was the result of two years of consideration and extensive communication with residents over the last three months.

“We had looked at trying to put on another tax levy. We’ve instituted a bunch of cuts and are working on additional cuts that would be in addition to going to open enrollment,” Fromel said.

The district teachers’ current two-year contract called for a base-and-step wage freeze and increased health-care contributions from five to 10 percent, he said.

“The teachers get it and did what they could. About two years ago, we had eliminated some aide and tutor positions. Some of the cuts we’re talking about now revolve around materials, supplies and purchase services,” Fromel said.

The district also is considering a single bus route to save fuel costs, which would mean the schools within the K-12 complex would have the same start time, he said.

Dunham said if the enrollment stays the same it would likely result in electives and Advanced Placement classes having too few students to justify the course offering.

Fromel and Dunham said residents’ primary concerns about open enrollment were that incoming students would have discipline problems and that open enrollment would affect property values.

Fromel said the district will have a screening process, and local open enrollment districts said incoming students with discipline problems are the exception, not the norm.

“A parent has to step up to get them into an open- enrollment district,” he said.

As for property values, Dunham said the district found “no evidence or data that property values would decline.”

He added that 89 percent of districts in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties have open enrollment and the majority of those districts have seen an increase in valuation.

The declining South Range student population is a result of the economy, Dunham said.

“South Range is a rural district with a great deal of farmland and property that’s available. The housing starts have obviously fallen off since 2007 when the economy went south, and we don’t have people moving into the district,” he said.

Fromel said the school board believes open enrollment is the best long-term plan for the district.

“The model to fund schools off the backs of property tax owners over the long term, it cannot be sustained. This is what we needed to do,” he said.


1Old_School(39 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

What a crock of crap Dunham has fed the people of South Range. Declining enrollment should mean cutting teachers, not take away from neighboring districts! When a business has declining customers then they cut employees. Oh wait he didn't go to business school he went to government school. They have know about this for years and have done nothing to cut expenses. It's all status quo. Where are the teacher cuts Dennis? Where is the pay to play? How about they pay you in accordance to the number of students you serve? The Canfield superintendent makes the same amount of money and has twice the number of students, so according to my calculation you should make half of what he makes! You never tried anything Dennis, you looked at this option only. Put the burden on those around you and suffer none yourself.

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2Old_School(39 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

@gdog - I hate Kasich and I love teachers! You don't seem to understand that if you have less of a student population then you need to cut those who serve it, not take from other schools. They could have tried to pass a levy as well. Look at Poland, they tried 7 times and finally passed. Why wouldn't South Range try at least once?

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3AnotherAverageCitizen(1193 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Thank you Gov kasich for taking so much money away from our local schools and Govts. It has really lowered my state taxes. Well NO, it has not lowered my taxes. My state taxes are still the same. My taxes have gone up because local schools and Govts have needed to pass new taxes, to make up for the loss of state funds.

Gov. kasich, I guess South Range will be better off when you send Toll road money away from what it was suppose to be used for. Spend Billions of dollars today and say it will be paid for in the future. Isn't that what we are trying to avoid? But somehow Gov kasich, you have the repubs now thinking it is a great idea to spend money now that will need to be raised after you are long gone.

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4AnotherAverageCitizen(1193 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Just wait and see what the liability insurance fees will be on schools if the NRA has their way. Teachers with Guns. WOW, is that going to cost the school districts money. Because I can see it happening. A students gets a hold of a weapon from a teacher, shoots some people and the lawsuits come flying.

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5redeye1(5614 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

AAC In one post you are praising Obammy for doing the same thing . Spend money we don't have , but Kasich does it its wrong! Please, how one is different from the other . The TP generates a boatload of money year after year . So taking some to rebuild our roads up here in the north is a good idea. Otherwise nothing will get done up here.. Just look at what Gov Stricklin spent around here, next to nothing. Oh wait I'm sorry they did repave I- 680 with some shoody materials and workmanship. I guess that was okay. So quit your damn whinning okay.

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6AnotherAverageCitizen(1193 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Open enrollment has to due with money. Kasich took money away from schools.

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7AnotherAverageCitizen(1193 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Well if you have half the students then you only need half the teachers. I don't agree with open enrollment.

It creates too many problems. Why would someone in Canfield school district sending their child to South Range, ever consider voting for a school levy again. Transportation becomes another issue when someone will push it. Just ask Austintown about transporting kids to schools outside their district. What happens when a child from Mohawk in Pa wants to come to an Ohio school? Then comes athletics, lets get all the good players from the area to go to one school so they can win a state champ with several school districts competing against on school.

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8youngspartanrepublican(92 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Checkout buckeye institute. The pay freezes probably should have been instituted years ago to make much of a difference, don't blame Kasich. Moreover, who does South Range think they are going to get? Adjacent open enrollment means only Canfield, Boardman, Poland, Springfield, Columbiana, West Branch, and maybe Western Reserve will be allowed. Many of the big suburbans that South Range surely has a target aimed at will not be sending top students there. Those schools are all excellent and offer a full list of AP and dual credit classes. Why would they send their kids to a school which currently offers nothing and has no guarantees about its future? At best, you'll get mostly average kids, but mostly the kids who come with more baggage than you want, those that have parents who think they know how the school runs more than the teacher itself. Not a good fit for South Range.

Someone said it's a great capitalist idea to have OE. If it were, why have Canfield, Boardman, and Poland done everything possible to avoid it? They would have been attracting the most students in the past few decades we've had open enrollment.

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9TB(1167 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Buckeye institute is hardly an unbiased source.

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10corruptionalert(2 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Fire Dunham! Look at the mess he has made since becoming superintendent. The campus that has given them the deficit, the lost excellence rating and now open enrollment, all his doing. Certainly the board has done nothing to help matters, but someone needs to be held responsible and everyone knows it's him. Why would anyone want to go there anymore, its not the district it once was, thanks to Dunham.

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11Old_School(39 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Corruption, Your first ever comment is a good one. Dunham has done nothing but build up his cronie network out there. What they need to do is fire the board that hired him.
Also, I find it amazing that when they built that building out there they never thought about having an office for the administration. They are clueless!

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12Bigben(1996 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Well I told you so. I told you it was a stupid idea to build that huge campus out on 46. All the extra debt and built it on former farmland. All these new schools did not need to be built.Debt, debt and more debt.Enjoy.

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13udman22(1 comment)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Agree 100% With Old School . NO CLUE !!!
Purchase a building for administration next to old High School of which they new was going to be used for a limited time. Payed Full Price !!! Building sold for $65,000 less. Thanks for using my tax dollars. Very corrupt school system. Only hire friends and family that give money to the school. New secretary not competent enough to clean toilets but since her family found a donation through a wealthy alumni she is now the school secretary ??? School treasurer spent more on fuel for bus routes than all of Boardman combined and missed gas budget by double and still has his job??? Enrollment down - Overspending frivolously - Hiring non competent personnel - Test scores dwindling - Cover up of sons indecent incident on Bus with exchange student. Is this who should be running a school district???

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