Liberty school board amends open-enrollment policy

By Samantha Phillips


The Liberty school board unanimously approved an amendment to a controversial resolution passed in April stating white students in the district would no longer be granted consent to open enroll into Girard schools.

The amendment, approved Monday, reads, in part, “The Liberty Local School District may object to and reserves the right to no longer consent to the future open enrollment of Liberty’s native students in an adjacent or other districts in order to maintain an appropriate racial balance if the trend toward a racial balance continues and grows. ... At such time as the racial balance is restored and the trend discontinues, the Liberty Local School District will reconsider this open enrollment policy to adjacent school districts.”

The amendment is broader, but shows the board stands firm with its decision to object to open enrollment in attempt to maintain racial balance.

The April resolution was approved in response to Liberty’s declining enrollment and the funds that leave the district when students go to other districts, which affects Liberty’s ability to operate and add new programs.

Superintendent Joseph Nohra said the new position is less passionate and sticks to the law. The board took input from the community and state officials while designing the new resolution.

In other efforts to cut costs, the board approved a resolution to reduce positions through attrition and nonreplacement “due to fiscal conditions and decreasing enrollment.”

Those positions are a physical education teacher, a first-grade teacher, a custodian, two bus drivers, a high-school English teacher, some cafeteria staff and a transportation department secretary. The resolution states the positions could be brought back if needed.

The board also agreed to formally request the state auditor’s office to conduct a feasibility study to determine if sharing services such as transportation and/or facilities with the Brookfield and the Mathews school districts, both adjacent to Liberty, would save money.

The study is funded through state grants.

“I’m a strong advocate for school districts working together. I will continue to spend time throughout this next academic year looking for ways to work with other schools,” Nohra said.

“When you have drastic numbers of enrollment of Liberty families choosing other means of education, that’s where Columbus needs to put their foot down and say… they are struggling to provide resources for students. That consolidation and sharing of services discussion needs to be promoted,” he added

Scott Davis, a Liberty board member, said he spoke with the Mathews school board president Tarin Brown, who seemed interested in sharing services and “finding a way to improve quality of the education students are receiving and keep taxpayers happy.”

Nohra said he also spoke with Brookfield Superintendent Velina Taylor about the idea.

Diana DeVito, Liberty school board vice president, said she hopes to see more talk of school consolidation in the future.

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