Open enrollment offers draw dozens

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Lake Dallas, Argyle ISDs accept students from outside boundaries

The Lake Dallas and Argyle school districts could see some student growth in the new school year after accepting applications for their open enrollment programs.

Each program is meant to generate additional revenue for the 2012-13 school year by offering tuition-free open enrollment to students living outside the school district.

According to Marci Malcom, Lake Dallas schools’ assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, the district accepted 36 kindergarten through 12th-grade students under its open enrollment policy, which was approved by the school board in February.

A total of 45 applications were received, but not all the applicants met the requirements for enrollment, Malcom said. That number was double what the district expected in its first year offering open enrollment, she said.

“We expected 20 to 25 applications to come, so to get 45 was very exciting for us,” Malcom said. “We’re just really excited about the opportunity to bring these kids in and share the Falcon family with them. We think it will be a good thing all around.”

Lake Dallas school district officials have said the open enrollment policy allows the district to receive more state revenue funding, and because the district is landlocked and enrollment has declined recently, it also allows it to boost student growth. 

Throughout April, the district accepted applications for out-of-district kindergarten through 12th-grade students looking to enroll in Lake Dallas schools. Several families learned the district was accepting applications shortly before the April 30 deadline, Malcom said, and the district extended the application an additional two weeks and accepted 12 more students in that time.

Students joining the Lake Dallas district this fall come from Little Elm, Lewisville, Aubrey and the Denton school district, she said. Families are responsible for transporting the students to and from school.

Projections are that the Lake Dallas district will generate an additional $5,000 per student, for a total $180,000 in funding, by enrolling schoolchildren who live outside the district, Malcom said.

In Argyle, 100 students, including full-day pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade students, will enroll for the 2012-13 school year under the limited open enrollment program, Superintendent Telena Wright said. Applications were accepted April 30 through May 18.

The Argyle district faces a projected $1 million deficit for 2012-13, and open enrollment is one of the ways the district looks to generate additional revenue, officials have said.

Another option being considered is to hold a tax ratification election and raise the maintenance and operating tax rate to generate additional revenue and balance the budget.

In May, the district graduated more than 160 students, Wright said. In recent years, graduating classes have been larger than the incoming kindergarten and first-grade classes. Limited open enrollment, in a sense, is allowing the district to make up the difference and add a buffer, Wright said.

She said the district expects to receive a half-day portion in state revenue for students the state deems eligible for pre-kindergarten. Parents would pay tuition for pre-kindergarten students deemed ineligible for state funding.

After years of the Argyle school board either turning down or rescinding options to provide a limited open enrollment program, trustees approved the program last spring. The program was approved in 2011, but was overturned a week after the vote after the district identified another stream for generating revenue.

Met with opposition by parents, Argyle leaders tabled the idea in 2008 and 2009 after other options for generating revenue were identified.

BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876. Her e-mail address is btabor@dentonrc.com.


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