Does Open Enrollment Create Additional Cost to District Tax Payers?
By District Administrator Gary Hansen
I was approached the other day by a citizen who expressed concern about the number of open enrolled students that continue to enter our district. He thought that, as a tax payer, these open enrolled students were costing him money, and he didn’t feel as though he should pay for the education of students who live in a different district. He asked, “What is the cost of educating a student? $11,000?” I told him it is $11,309, which is $1,034 below the state average. He continued by saying that an open enrolled student only brings in $6,000 (actual revenue is $6,635); therefore his tax dollars must be making up that $5,000 (actual $4,674) difference. I was glad he approached me with this concern because while on the surface his argument makes sense, it’s actually just the opposite.
Let’s look at it more closely. Right now the Rosendale-Brandon School District has 37 elementary classroom sections, and at the high school level there are 103 class offerings at Laconia High School, and a different type of educational delivery at our Cirrus High School. Comparatively speaking, these classrooms and sections have room for additional students. To date, we have 160 open enrolled students (representing 14.9% of our student population) and we are able to add these students to the various district sections without adding a teacher, or spending more on technology, heat or electricity. Adding these students to sections that already exist, means that the money each open enrolled student brings actually supplements our budget and reduces the burden on local tax payers. No doubt, if our classrooms were full and accepting additional students were to require adding a section, at a cost of $60,000 per section, then this citizen’s concern would be valid, but we would have to add 17 new sections before the costs would outweigh the benefits.
Currently each open enrolled student represents $6,635, which equates to $1,061,600 that our 160 open enrolled students bring into the district. We also have 49 resident students who are attending a school outside of our district, which represents a loss of $325,115; so in the end, the district has a net gain of $736,485 as a result of students choosing to receive their education in the Rosendale-Brandon School District.
I thank the citizen for sharing his concern, however not only do we gain financially from open enrolled students, but we are pleased to welcome these 160 students and are honored that they chose the Rosendale-Brandon School District to receive their education.