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Ashland schools to allow open enrollment again

The Ashland School Board voted unanimously Monday to allow out-of-district students the opportunity to attend Ashland schools next academic year under the state's open enrollment policy.

Board members agreed that the decision to welcome open enrollment students this year was "economically advantageous," for the district and had minimal consequences concerning class size.

The open enrollment law, which was passed during the 2011 session of the Oregon Legislature, allows a district to accept out-of-district students without permission from their home districts. Previously, both districts had to approve a transfer.

Administrators now will have to define how many additional open enrollment students the district is willing to accommodate next year, and the School Board will have to approve those numbers.

"Our goal is to maximize the teaching staff that we have and opportunities that we have," said Samuel Bogdanove, Ashland's director of student services. "If there is room, without increasing class size, we want to make class space available."

Bogdanove said he could not estimate how many students the district might be willing to admit until an analysis is completed early next year.

Last year, the district had hoped to bring in 308 students through open enrollment, but only 102 applied and the district accepted only 60. Only 49 of those 60 students are still attending Ashland schools under open enrollment, according to a recent report from the district.

Last school year, the district reported its facilities could handle up to 389 more students.

"The general consensus is this was economically advantageous for the district, without having any negative effects on things like class size," School Board member John Williams said during Monday's meeting.

In April, the Phoenix Talent School District reported that 54 of its students had been accepted into the Ashland School District, which would have meant the loss of about $324,000 in revenue for Phoenix-Talent, if all the students decided to transfer.

Families interested in transferring in the next school year through open enrollment are required to apply for transfer by April 1. By May 1, districts must let students know whether they have secured an open spot. If too many students apply for the available slots, a lottery is held to determine who can make the transfer.

Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email swheeler@dailytidings.com.