Open Enrollment Background Information
BYRON PUBLIC SCHOOLS: OPEN-ENROLLMENT
In Minnesota, like many other states, students can choose Open Enrollment as a legal school choice option. The Byron School District welcomes open-enrolled students from several Minnesota school districts. We welcome their contribution to our high-performing community of learners. Open Enrollment allows students and parents to have access to schools that are not within their resident district. This program allows student enrollment from one school district into another.
The Byron Public Schools develops a yearly budget to help achieve a Strategic Plan—which, in turn, drives, and reflects our schools’ priorities. Our district’s budget consists mostly of state, local, and federal dollars. Many people in education, including myself, believe that such public monies should fully fund all public education expenses, funding often falls short. This is true generally and also specifically, in Byron.
In the 2019-2020 school year, Byron received $7,753 per student. However, the average per-student funding for Minnesota school districts is $9,277. Our district receives 16% less than the per-student average in Minnesota. In fact, Byron schools are one of the lowest general-funded schools in Minnesota.^^
Byron receives $6,652 in general state aid and Operating Capital aid for each K-6 resident and non-resident student and $7,982 for each 7-12 resident and non-resident student. Because the basic costs of operation are already in place for resident students, each additional non-resident student costs the District around $2,815. That means, the District retains an estimated $4,663 from each non-resident K-6 student and $5,596 from each 7-12 student to use on enhancing the staffing and program for resident students. For the current year, our district will receive nearly $3 million (and well over $20 million the past decade) due to Open Enrollment. Ehlers, our industry-leading municipal advisor estimates (2018) an annual tax increase of approximately $507 would be needed to generate that revenue loss for a taxpayer owning a $150,000 home!
It is estimated that $327,400 will be used for the extra costs of hosting non-resident students and $1,598,482 are estimated to be available for resident students. If the District stopped accepting new Open Enrolled students, the decline in enrollment, revenue, and the ability to support lower class sizes Byron has grown to enjoy would impact every student very quickly. It could adversely affect the District and the entire community, potentially even impacting property value.
WHO COMES AND WHO GOES IN BYRON
These various investments our district makes pay dividends. Byron’s wonderful students perform very well academically and have superb graduation rates. Our schools are recognized as leaders in technology integration, offer robust college preparatory courses, and place high importance on investment in teacher development. It takes resources to be a high performing District.
Looking at the most current enrollment data for students and our 5-year range, 17.54% of our total enrollment comes from open-enrolled students. Looking back further, the 10-year range is 17.56%. This generated nearly 3 million dollars in revenue. However, just like families choose to send their child to Byron, we also have students, albeit minimal, Open Enroll out of our district. For the 2018-2019 school year, we had 75 students option out for the year, incurring a loss of student revenue well over $400,000.
Further, we also have students that access Post-secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO). PSEO is a program that allows 10th, 11th, and 12th-grade students to earn college credit while still in high school through enrollment in and successful completion of college-level courses. Post-secondary institutions are not allowed to charge PSEO students for tuition, textbooks, or support services. When we factor in PSEO 2018-2019, for 24 students (full and part-time), the district spent $115,812 on tuition.
Back in 2014, the State of Minnesota changed the way it counts students for local property taxes. The formula that was used previously counted all resident students who attend the District's schools as well as those who attended another public school. In 2014, the legislature changed that to counting all students served in a district—resident and non-resident.
Using resident and non-resident students as the count for students within a district does not mean that local taxes are paying for non-resident students. That is just a new basis for counting students. In fact, in Byron, it certainly does not necessarily mean that Byron taxpayers are paying for non-resident students because the amount of state aid the District receives for each non-resident student is far more than the additional cost of educating that non-resident student.
Some may ask are we building because of the impact of non-resident students? First of all, the state money generated by Open Enrollment is far more than the added operational cost. And secondly, current and future facilities are for residents. It is true that all students use them, but they will be available for decades for residents to use. Furthermore, the District receives state aid for both resident and non-resident students for part of the additional facilities.
Open Enrollment revenue has enabled the District to reduce class sizes throughout the system. Some people may think that a non-resident student who is added to a classroom increases the class size, but the reality is that the money generated by Open Enrolled students allows the District to reduce class sizes, and it assures that each classroom is efficient in terms of the number of students. Class sizes could be dramatically higher without Open Enrollment students than they are now unless we passed operating referendums. If there is not room in a particular class, the District denies the application for Open Enrollment and places the student on a wait-list.
The added revenue of increased enrollment has enabled the District to achieve the financial base to competitively pay staff, increase academic programs, and support services for students, and up until a few years, we avoided major budget adjustments so commonly seen in districts - which we have corrected. Byron Public Schools would be a vastly different place without this Open-Enrollment revenue. We know families have terrific local options, thank you for choosing Byron Public Schools.
If you have a question please contact me at email@example.com or 507-775-2383.
Dr. Joey Page, Superintendent
Sources and Adaptations:
^ Minnesota Department of Education
^^ Schools For Equity in Education
Minnetonka Public Schools