Wisconsin News

Open enrollment opens amid questions about school funding

LA CROSSE, Wis. - Open enrollment is once again underway in Wisconsin. It will last through April 30.

Click here to fill out the application or learn more about open enrollment in Wisconsin.

Parents looking to send their children to a district other than the one they live in can fill out an application on the Department of Public Instruction's website. Applications are for the 2013-2014 school year.

Many school districts rely on open enrollment as a significant source of funding. However, some proposed changes at the state level could cut into the money public schools receive in the future.

"I think it becomes more of a question mark, absolutely," said La Crosse Superintendent Randy Nelson.

Nelson says open enrollment has been a positive for the La Crosse School District.


"Part of this is providing as many options to parents as we can. The more options we can provide, in my view, the more oppotunities we have to have parents become involved," he said.

It's not only beneficial to families, the system can generate more funding for successful school districts as well.

In the last five years, the La Crosse School District has had a net gain of 434 students through open enrollment. That adds up to nearly $2.8 million, based on a $6,445/student state funding formula.

Nelson worries, however, the amount per student could be cut if state money is diverted to fund an expansion of school vouchers.

"Depending on what happens with the vouchers, that and open enrollment together could create a really interesting scenario when it comes to funding schools and allocating dollars for schools," said Nelson.

Governor Scott Walker's office declined News 8's request for an interview for this story.

"Details regarding Governor Walker's plan to continue to transform education will be included in his budget proposal, which will be introduced later this month," wrote Walker's spokesperson Cullen Werwie in an e-mail.

That means school districts have no choice but to wait and see.

"It's more difficult today to establish a firm budget and say here's exactly what it's going to be," said Nelson.

It's not clear yet whether Governor Walker will try to include his proposal in the next state budget or as a separate measure. He will unveil his state budget on February 20.

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