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No New Open Enrollment Seats Available at Elmbrook Schools

Elmbrook School Board sends request for Chapter 220 funding change to area politicians.

The Elmbrook School District will have no new seats available for open enrollment for those looking to transfer into the school district while living in another community.

The Elmbrook School Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve staff recommendations to freeze the open enrollment seats for the 2013-14 school year. The board’s decision leaves 460 open enrollment seats already claimed by students for the next school year — a reduction of 56 students via graduation and attrition.

Open enrollment seats in the Elmbrook School District are in high demand. This school year, the district approved 12 open enrollment seats out of 567 applications.

Keith Brightman, assistant superintendent for Finance, Operations & Human Resources, explained that adding non-resident students via the open enrollment process will eventually increase the number of sections the schools need, which result in increased costs.

Chapter 220 Advocacy

Meanwhile, the board decided during to send a letter to state politicians about the Chapter 220 funding structure. The board decided in October to not open seats to new students through the Chapter 220 process for the second year in a row because of budgetary impacts.

Elmbrook is not alone in phasing out of the Chapter 220 program. Many Milwaukee suburban school districts for years have stopped accepting new minority Milwaukee students in the voluntary integration program. They have cited the fact that, unlike the state's Open Enrollment program, Chapter 220 aid does not increase the total revenue that districts can collect.

The letter, approved Tuesday night, is addressed to Congresswoman Gwen Moore, Congressman James Sensenbrenner, State Sen. Leah Vukmir, State Sen. Paul Farrow, State Rep. Dale Kooyenga, State Rep. Robert Hutton, members of the Joint Committee on Finance and members of the Committee on Education. The letter states the school board wants help changing the program’s funding structure. The letter is attached to this article.

School Board Member Jean Lambert said that the letter is being sent to the politicians as the state budget is being drafted.

“We felt that it would be important to move this forward so that it is part of those discussions as the budget is being formulated rather than coming on its heels,” Lambert said.

The board struggled with the decision to freeze Chapter 220 seats — the cost component is “frustrating,” said School Board President Thomas Gehl.

“This is our way of saying we support the program,” Gehl said.

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