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Open enrollment: what to know Medford extends to high-schoolers

The Medford School District is extending open enrollment to middle and high school students for the first time at McLoughlin Middle School and South and North Medford high schools. Each will accept up to 50 students from surrounding districts. Here are the important things to know about open enrollment and the new options:

What open enrollment is not

Open enrollment is not interdistrict transfer, which requires approval from both the departing and entering district and is typically based on specific circumstances. It is also not intradistrict transfer, for students who want to move to another school within their same district boundaries. One potential criterion for approval is “significant circumstances” of either family or educational nature.

What open enrollment is

Open enrollment requires only approval from the receiving district and takes effect the following school year. The reasons for the transfer generally aren’t taken into consideration, but if more students apply than there are spots, a lottery process determines selection. District officials place students based on available space, although school preference is considered.

The window is small and short

Applications for open enrollment opened March 1 and will be accepted until April 1. Intradistrict applications for next year opened Feb. 1, and interdistrict applications open April 1. Allocation of open enrollment slots depends on how many Medford students apply for intradistrict transfer — they’ll get first dibs on school choice.

Why the change in Medford?

Surrounding school districts offer open enrollment in K-12, instead of just at the elementary level, as Medford did until now. This school year, 33 Medford high school students were approved by neighboring districts to enter through open enrollment. In a system where districts are funded based on their number of students, with an average $7,693 allocated per student, that opened Medford up to an approximate $253,869 decrease this year.

There’s a delay to play

Since open enrollment can, and does, typically happen without a release from the student’s resident district, a student athlete’s OSAA eligibility is withheld for one calendar year after transferring (with a few exceptions). This is intended to deter student transfers that are primarily athletically motivated. Students who transfer before they enter ninth grade, however, would be immediately eligible to participate in OSAA activities.

For more information, see https://www.medford.k12.or.us/Page/2904

Gerardo Cortes, 17, and Andrea Colin, 18, make some dough during a culinary class Wednesday at South Medford High School. Open enrollment is offered at Medford's high schools this year for the first time. - Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune