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More Open Enrollment students could solve district's budget gap

May 28, 2009

The Wauwatosa School District will use 270 additional Open Enrollment students to help patch an anticipated $1.6 million budget shortfall next year.

Officials called an emergency School Board meeting for Wednesday night to address the potential budget gap, an expected product of looming reductions in state aid.

Each additional Open Enrollment student represents an estimated $6,300 revenue boost, for a total of $1.7 million in extra income. Funds from the seats are intended to preempt other cost-cutting alternatives, like program or staff reductions.

The extra students will be added at all educational levels for the 2009-10 school year, effectively increasing class sizes across all district elementary, middle and high schools. Previously, the district has only accepted Open Enrollment students at the elementary level.

Currently, about 1,000 students are on the district’s Open Enrollment waiting list. Student services staff will begin notifying the students tomorrow, officials said.

School Board members approved the move with a 6-1 vote.

Board Member Phil Kroner stood in lone opposition, asking for more time to study all possible options and their future impact on district finances.

Kroner and three members of the public criticized district administrators for the meeting’s short notice.

Administrators scheduled the meeting Tuesday, and provided board members with the proposal’s details about five hours before the 6 p.m. meeting.

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