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Letter: Tighten up open enrollment

Recent articles in this paper emphasized what we know, that our schools are crowded and that student population is increasing faster than expected. We get that. What we don’t get is that school officials have been relatively quiet about the fact that 16 percent of the students in our grade schools (566 students) do not even live in our district. In one grade school, almost one of every three students is from outside our district. Be reminded that those from outside our district do not contribute property taxes to support our schools.

Also be reminded that the tax dollars that will be required to build additional facilities will all come from the pockets of those within the district, not from those outside the district who enroll in our schools. Given these facts, why are we permitting open enrollment?

The law does not require open enrollment at this high level. Open enrollment in our schools can be legally reduced to a very small fraction of where we are now. And to those who say open enrollment brings in money from the state, be aware that the state covers only a part of a student’s cost. The rest is picked up by district residents.

If the board is serious in its concern about student capacity, the first order of business should be to minimize open enrollment for next year, to the extent permitted by law. That decision should have been made a year ago instead of placing 100-percent priority on the items included in the failed referendum. The decision can and should be made now to minimize impact on students. That would solve the capacity problem for at least a few years, and provide the time to develop a more economically sustainable plan for the future.

Wes Mader
Prior Lake

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