The Northwest Board of Education discussed a policy Monday evening that would set the maximum number of option students it accepts every school year.
At its meeting Monday night, the board discussed appendix 1 of policy No. 5006, which is the policy on option enrollment. Appendix 1 sets the maximum number of option students the district will have for the school year.
Superintendent Jeff Edwards said the appendix has not been updated since the 2007-08 school year, and therefore needs to be updated to account for changes in the district since. He said the appendix currently calls for a program capacity of 20 kindergartners per class, 25 students per class in grades first through sixth and 250 students in each high school class.
“In my research, what I found is that there is no particular time the appendix has to be approved by the board, except for prior to the 2020-21 school year,” Edwards said. “The way it does get filled out is you determine the program capacity for each of the grade levels. You then do an expectation of what your current projected enrollment is and then that determines your numbers for option enrollment.”
Edwards said his recommendation to the board is to use the Oct. 1 state report that the district submits to determine how many option students it can accept as the numbers included in appendix 1. Board President Dan Leiser said the board needs to fill out appendix 1 yearly and would like to see its layout “tweaked” to reflects the current setup of the district’s buildings.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Randy Stueven claimed the district has been collecting money from taxpayers to educate option students but never voted to accept any option students. He said that with Grand Island Public Schools “eating up” Northwest’s tax base, it has shifted some of its students to the Northwest taxpayers who are left to pick up the bill to educate students.
In his comments in a later discussion on district configuration, board member Zach Mader appeared to agree with Stueven.
“It is not the district taxpayers’ responsibility to bring in more option students,” he said. “We cannot put that on the backs of our taxpayers.”
Stueven claimed that he found out through a Freedom of Information Act request that the district apparently has no documents pertaining to accepting option students, nor has the board ever voted to accept any amount of option students to attend Northwest. He hoped this would change if the board filled out appendix 1 every year per its own policy.
The board only discussed appendix 1 and made no formal vote regarding it.
For the record
In other action, the Northwest board:
— Voted 6-0 to amend policy No. 5006 to add Northwest Public Schools employees to the priority list for option enrollment.
— Voted 6-0 to update the district’s transfer request form to require a signature stating the request has been discussed with the child’s home attendance area school building.
— Listened to a report from Business Manager Sharon Placke on the proposed 2019-20 budget. The board will host a budget workshop on Aug. 26.