SCal continues talk of open enrollment

— Open enrollment was again a topic of concern to board members Wednesday night during the South Callaway Board of Education meeting.

Superintendent Mary Lynn Battles told board members she met with Rep. Jeanie Riddle and Sen.-elect Mike Kehoe Monday to discuss open enrollment. The board had decided after the previous meeting on Nov. 10 to meet with legislators about the issue.

“We have basically been told that the chances of open enrollment coming to fruition are very great,” Battles said.

Open enrollment, if it becomes law in Missouri, would allow for students to attend school in a different district than where they reside. Battles said the legislators who are developing an open enrollment bill hope to have one on the governor’s desk by February. She said it is her wish to see such a bill defeated, but if it passes, then her goal is to work for a law that would be practical for both students and school districts.

“It is important we contact people, and let them know of our concerns,” Battles said.

Battles told the board she plans to meet with area legislators on a regular basis as an open enrollment bill is being drafted, and see if lawmakers can attend a future board meeting, so concerns can be addressed. Listing negatives of an open enrollment policy to Riddle and Kehoe on Monday, Battles said, she included the extra cost of transporting students from one district to another.

“Transportation is probably one of the greatest concerns,” she said.

Battles said even if parents were to take their children to the district line, that would still increase the need for more transportation.

“Right now our busses are totally full.”

The big question open enrollment begs an answer to is how it will affect the district financially, Battles said.

“We’re looking at unknown cost and unknown revenue from this bill,” she said.

Erin Howard, board president also voiced opposition to such a policy, saying it could adversely affect the district’s funding.

“What they’re trying to do is take away local control to all those people who pay taxes in the district,” Howard said.

Battles also gave a brief financial report to the board, stating the district can expect more of a “shortfall” in state funding for the 2011-2012 school year. She said it is difficult to know what lies ahead and to make future projections and budgets, but she said some employee benefits may have to be cut.

“We will continue to look at areas to cut,” Battles said. “Financially, there are a lot of challenges right now.”

In new business, Lola Dzurick, director of curriculum, reported that the district met all standards of the 2010 Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education annual performance report.

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