|By: Elizabeth Lolli
School is running smoothly. We are finishing our first six weeks of school, already. In August, Mrs. Thorpe and I shared historical data at a Board of Education meeting. I would like to share some of that information with the community.
Did you know that in 2004-2005 the enrollment for the district was 1482? Today we have 2358.
Of the 2358 only 127 are open enrolled students. These students are in grades 9-12. There are about 30 open enrolled students in each grade: 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade. These students generate a little over $700,000.00 in state revenue. This money comes directly to the Monroe Local Schools and lowers the burden on Monroe taxpayers.
Many community members believe that open enrollment costs the district additional money. This idea is incorrect. No additional teachers were hired this year for open enrolled students. However, local growth in the younger grades has resulted in additional teachers and classrooms to be required at the primary and secondary schools.
In a high school, numerous licensed teachers are needed. Licenses are specific to the area or course that one teaches. In other words, an English teacher can only teach English. In the sciences and sometimes in the Social Studies, several different teachers are needed because of the licenses they hold. For example, a chemistry/physics license does not permit a teacher to teach Biology or Anatomy. The license is only used for chemistry, physical science or physics. This requires multiple teachers in the science field.
The argument has been made that more teachers could be cut without open enrollment. The above comments about licensure are made to illustrate that those teachers are still needed because of the variety of courses we are required to teach and the requirement of appropriately licensed teachers for those courses.
Monroe High School has the capacity for approximately 200 students. There are 170 freshman; 196 sophomores, 174 eleventh graders; and 169 seniors. These numbers include the open enrolled students. Please note that many more open enrolled students could have been accepted in 3 of the grades. However, that would have required increased staff. The district has been very careful about NOT increasing staff due to open enrolled students. Hopefully, these numbers illustrate that. Open enrollment adds neither teachers nor classrooms to the high school, but simply fills otherwise empty seats.
The primary PreK-2 has 600 students. The elementary building has 708 grades 3-6 students. The Junior High has 340 students. The district is definitely growing!
Did you know that in 2007, $1,035,821.00 was generated by open enrollment? In 2008 that number dropped to $874,932.00. The district enrolled 191 open enrolled students in 2007 and only 157 in 2008. The open enrollment funding provided the equivalent of approximately 3 mills to our district — money that would otherwise need to be replaced by local taxes to keep the same level of programs.
Until the high school reaches capacity, open enrollment provides a revenue stream for the school district and enables us to provide a comprehensive curriculum at a lower cost to our students. No additional teachers will be added to accommodate open enrollment increases. However, the district should continue to accept open enrolled students as long as there is capacity and no additional staffing is required.