VASD enrollment rises again
The Verona Area School District (VASD) continues to grow in this school year, up 124 students from last year’s September enrollment numbers.
As of the third Friday in September, when every school district around Wisconsin must give an official enrollment number to the state Department of Public Instruction (DPI), 5,440 students attended schools in the VASD; an increase of more than 1,000 from just eight years ago. The largest increase came at the middle school level, where 82 more students are enrolled this year than last.
Additionally, resident student enrollment, which factors into calculating the district’s revenue cap, is up to 5,291, 151 students higher than last year. VASD superintendent Dean Gorrell said the increase was 95 more than district officials predicted.
The third Friday count affects student aid from the state, and VASD business manager Chris Murphy said the extra 95 students should increase the district’s cap somewhere around $325,000, though the DPI still has to determine the exact number.
Pre-K and early childhood students do not count as a full student in the DPI’s calculations, Murphy said, so the exact amount could fluctuate depending on what level the extra 95 students are from.
The school board adopted changes to the district’s open enrollment policies in response to 2011 Wisconsin Act 114 at its Oct. 7 meeting.
Much of the language of the changes reflected the legislation, VASD director of community services John Schmitt said when first presenting the changes at a meeting last month. Board member John McCulley raised a question over part of the new policy that differentiated between students with special needs and those without.
“It is a bit awkward,” Schmitt admitted, though he said it reflected the language in the law and came after significant consultation with the Wisconsin Association of School Boards.
The most significant change in the policy is in alternative applications that can now be submitted outside of the new February-to-April time period for normal open-enrollment applications. These alternative applications can come at any time of year if they fall within one of seven categories, including if a parent or guardian determines it is in the “best interest” of the student to open enroll.
That was a point that brought more questions from the board on the definition of that statement. However, the district will have the opportunity to determine whether it agrees on the student’s “best interest” when a student attempts to transfer either in or out of the district.
“It’s an interesting change, because it does demand us to watch this year-round,” Schmitt said Sept. 23. “At the bottom line, for parents they get an opportunity to have access throughout the year.”
The board passed the changes unanimously.