Austintown schools renew open enrollment for 2019-20
By Justin Dennis
Austintown schools will remain an open-enrollment district in the 2019-20 school year.
During a Monday meeting, board members approved that designation, pushed up the cutoff date for kindergarten eligibility and increased the GPA requirements for student athletes from 1.5 to 2.0, among other things.
Board members Robin Krempasky and Harold Porter voted against open enrollment during the meeting.
Porter said he’s seen the number of students who open enroll outside the district surge in recent years – which is backed up by the district’s five-year forecast, presented in October – and he’s concerned the taxing district’s voter base could become resigned to apathy.
The district’s last levy renewal measure passed by 51 percent to 49 percent, when more than 300 Austintown-area students were enrolled elsewhere. Currently, there are 426 students, or “852 potential ‘no’ votes, if there’s two in a family,” he said.
The district also will spend more for those students by paying nondistrict personnel for services, from $1.9 million spent on 326 open-enrolled students in 2016 to a projected $3.1 million to be spent on 503 students in 2023, according to the forecast. Open-enrollment metrics were one reason the district is projected to enter 2022 in the red, officials said.
The deadline for open enrollment also was pushed back to April 30, Superintendent Vince Colaluca said. Parents whose students are currently open-enrolled in the district are being urged to re-apply now, he said. Students will be accepted by grade levels and based on class capacity, he said.
In other business, incoming kindergartners must be a little older before starting school. Children who turn 5 on or before Aug. 1 are eligible to enroll. Previously, the cutoff date was Sept. 30. The change was to delay younger students who may not be socially or emotionally prepared for school.
The change takes effect for the 2019-20 school year. Kindergarten enrollment begins in March.
Board members David Ritchie and Kathy Mock voted against it.
“The later date would allow us to support children in the classroom who are at the edge of kindergarten readiness, instead of making them wait a year. So many of our families are facing financial challenges, and the cost of preschool is high,” Mock said.
The board recently began to consider offering its own preschool program. Board members were slated to discuss the issue during a near six-hour work session, but ran out of time.