By Blythe Alspaugh
TIPP CITY — Open enrollment for the 2022-2023 academic year failed in a unanimous vote by the Tipp City Board of Education at their March 21 meeting.
Reasons for voting against open enrollment for the upcoming academic year included concerns regarding overcrowding in classrooms and how social distancing could be achieved with higher class numbers if COVID restrictions and mandates came back.
“I like our class sizes small, and people are tired of hearing it, but 28 kids in algebra is unacceptable. Thirty-one kids is worse. Thirty-one kids in a science lab — when kids can’t do their labs because there are too many kids, as a parent I have to wonder: how are we meeting the state standards on that?” Board Member Theresa Dunaway said.
Dunaway also brought up more housing developments being constructed in Tipp City, and that while the city grows, more families will be likely to come into the city and contribute to the growing student population in Tipp Schools.
Board President Simon Patry added that the new financing formula used to calculate money the school district would receive per student utilizing open enrollment does not provide for additional teachers to be employed to accommodate growing class sizes from allowing open enrollment students. According to Ohio Department of Education Area Coordinator Andrew Smith, the district would receive approximately $445 per open enrollment student. Smith spoke to the board and answered questions regarding open enrollment at their March 7 work session.
“Based on our numbers and what Mr. Stefanik has provided us, it does not appear that we have any room for any students anyway. If you are going to do an open enrollment system appropriately (…) we have to look at our class sizes and judge if we have any room without increasing our class sizes to maintain what we typically do and adjust for off years. Based on what we’re seeing here, we would just be increasing our numbers which would mean we would have to add a teacher, and that doesn’t make any financial sense,” Patry said. “We look at it every year, and we’ll see what happens with the funding.”
Dunaway added that the district has never had a written plan or policy regarding open enrollment and the criteria open enrollment students need to meet.
“We shouldn’t go with our gut. It should be outlined in a policy with numbers, so it’s black and white,” Dunaway said.
Board member Amber Drum added that seeing the numbers of class sizes broken down by building, grade and teacher throughout the daily bell schedule, the growing population of students residing in the district limits became more clear.
“It makes a lot more sense as to maybe why it’s not a great idea, because we’re going to hit that threshold, and that’s not going to work for us,” Drum said.
Drum added that in adding open enrollment, other factors such as additional student needs would have to be considered for the future.
“This may be a really good time to take a break and a breather (…) we’re looking at facilities, we know there’s several communities that are being planned. We have a lot on our plate; I think maybe this is just a good sign of, hey, we can take a break from this,” Board Member Anne Zakkour said.
The Tipp City Board of Education will hold a work session on Monday, April 11 at 5 p.m. The next regular meeting of the Tipp City Board of Education will be held Monday, April 25 at 6 p.m.