Shopping for schools

LA CROSSE, Wis. -- These days, families are used to shopping around for everything from cars to laundry detergent. But what about your child's education?

Wisconsin is joining dozens of states in highlighting school choice this week. It's just in time to remind families that open enrollment is coming up fast.

If you ask La Crosse Public Schools Associate Superintendent Troy Harcey, he'll tell you when it comes to your child's education, choice matters.

"If I don't find what I like at one store, I'll go to another store and try to find what I want for my child. La Crosse, we just happen to be a prime area with a variety of choices and options that, at this point, have been very attractive for not only our community but surrounding communities," said Harcey.

He said School Choice Week is a good reminder that it's time for parents to start thinking about open enrollment.

"Right now is prime time for parents to be asking questions of local schools to talk about the programming and the space available in those programs," said Harcey.


Open enrollment is a Wisconsin program that allows families who reside in one district to send their student to school in another district. This school year, La Crosse schools gained a total of 71 students from outside school districts through open enrollment.

North Woods International Elementary is one of the school district's hot spots when open enrollment rolls around.

"It's very much in-demand. There's often a long waiting list. That was our experience here this year," said North Woods Principal Sandy Brauer.

With its international perspective and Spanish partial-immersion option, North Woods brought in 21 students from outside school districts last year.

"As a public school, we really offer some unique opportunities that people from around the Coulee region are really interested in," said Brauer.

And Harcey said that's what it's all about.

"What we try to find is a match between the students' interests, the parents' desires, and what we have to offer in terms of choice programs in La Crosse. We know that there's no conventional route to student success anymore, and we know in La Crosse also that one size does not fit all," said Harcey.

If you'd like to submit an open enrollment application for the 2012-2013 school-year, you can do it Feb. 6-24.

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