Assignment: Education-Open Enrollment

Twins Sophia and Isabella Alcocer are second graders at North Woods International school in La Crosse, but they live in Onalaska.

"My husband and I, first of all, wanted to have the girls learn about other parts of the world," said Delia Alcocer, parent who applied for open enrollment. "So, we were looking for a school that would have some curriculum that would show them that."

North Woods International was exactly what the Alcocer family was looking for. So, they open enrolled into the La Crosse School District three years ago during the state-wide public school open enrollment application period.

"It provides a window of time that parents can look at programs and that they might be able to select a program or a delivery of education that might best meet the needs of their kids," said Randy Nelson, La Crosse School District associate superintendent of instruction.

Typically, kids in Wisconsin are assigned to school districts based on the location of their home. But since public school choice legislation was passed more than a dozen years ago, interest in open enrollment has continued to grow.

"I was just looking at some recent data showing that the School District of La Crosse is in the top 10 percent in terms of... when you look at the difference of student who are open enrolling out of the district verses those coming in, we have more students coming into the School District of La Crosse then we do leaving the School District of LaCrosse," said Nelson. "And what it means for us is it does provide opportunities for us to use those additional funds that come with those students to help us even do more choice and charter kinds of programming."

North Woods International School is a choice school in the La Crosse School district, and provides a style of education that is important to many families including the Alcocers.

"They get so excited to learn," said Alcocer. "They've learned about China. They've learning about Australia. They've learned about so many other things. It's just good to see them open up and say oh where is this located and what do those people do. And what do they like... these types of things."

"We're in a great era of opportunity and choice for parents," said Nelson. "I think if parents haven't had a good opportunity to explore the choices that not only the School District of La Crosse has, but those districts around us to provide unique learning opportunities for their children. One that they think is really solid with their beliefs and would be strong for their children. Now's the time to do that."

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