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Schools grapple with open enrollment law

Staff writer

Administrators and school boards are scrambling to come up with guidelines for allowing nonresident student enrollment.

In May 2022, open enrollment was mandated, starting June 1 for the 2024-’25 school year, as part of legislation approving full funding for Kansas schools.

District policies need to be in place by Jan. 1.

Administrators will have until sometime in April to determine how many students they can handle and how many nonresident students they can accept into each grade, Hillsboro superintendent Clint Corby said.

Then, in June, families can apply to enroll their children into any school they choose throughout the state. Students who are accepted and enrolled will be able to remain there until they graduate.

Students cannot be admitted or denied on the basis of ethnicity, gender, income, nationality, or disability.

School districts also can’t admit students for their athletic ability or measure of achievement.

If a student is denied enrollment, the school is required to send the family a note explaining the denial.

Peabody-Burns school district will have a public hearing at 6 p.m. Nov. 8, at the district office to acquaint families with the policy.

Hillsboro school district will have a public hearing at 6:50 p.m. Nov. 13, before its regular 7 p.m. board meeting.

“We’re all in the same boat,” Corby said. “The new law doesn’t affect us too much. All of the districts have had open policies for years. How we go about that now will be different.”

Out-of-district students who are enrolled this year will be grandfathered in. They will not have to reapply.

Corby said determining the limits of high school enrollment would be most difficult.

Marion superintendent Justin Wasmuth agreed.

“That second step will be challenging,” he said.

His school board has adopted an enrollment policy recommended by the Kansas Association of School Boards.

Siblings of current out-of-district students automatically will be accepted, he said.

When student capacity for each grade is determined, numbers will be posted on the district’s website.

Centre’s school board will have its first reading of a new enrollment policy at its November meeting and will act on it in December.

Corby noted that some large schools previously have not accepted out-of-district students, so the new law will require a bigger change for them.

Last modified Oct. 25, 2023

 

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