Reynoldsburg Schools could use lottery system for enrollment

By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

The selection process for Reynoldsburg eight graders to pick their academy of choice is drawing near, but the school board could be forced to consider a drawing of a different nature in the form of a lottery.

Students are asked to designate their first choice of academies at both district campuses—Summit Road and Livingston Avenue—along with a third choice.

While efforts are taken to accommodate initial requests, the eSTEM and Encore academies at Summit Road are the two most popular choices. With an academy attendance cap last year, a number of students were shut out of Summit Road and placed in either the (HS)2 STEM or BELL academy at Livingston Avenue.

During the Jan. 10 Reynoldsburg Board of Education meeting, administrators discussed not only the potential for a lottery, but also the impact open enrollment students have on classroom capacity.

“We don’t know right now if we even have to invoke a lottery system until we get the numbers,” said Board President Joe Begeny, who previously said he was not in favor of including open enrollment students in a lottery, but would consider putting them on a post-lottery waiting list. “As of right now, open enrollment students are not taking the place of resident students in a (potential) lottery.”

Assistant Superintendent Jocelyn Cosgrave said there are 678 open enrollment students district-wide in kindergarten through 12th grade. While the number of sophomores dropped from 61 students to 40, the number of seniors rose from 36 to 62.

“I am amazed at the number of open enrollment students in their senior year,” said board member Neil Whitman.

Cosgrave said the increase could be attributed to a change in enrollment data, like a change of address, or a desire to attend a Reynoldsburg school for their senior year.

At this point, open enrollment numbers are not capped, but the board discussed the possibility of doing so in the future if building capacity is diminished by increases in class size.

“We would have to follow whatever capacity structure we have in the district,” said Begeny. “At one point in time, if we don’t have any room, we just can’t accept anyone else. We have to think ahead. If we continue to see these increases (open enrollment) year by year, what is that going to do to our capacity? Do we cap it? Should we cap it at certain levels?”

The open enrollment policy is up for discussion again during the board’s February meeting.

Cosgrave said an enrollment summary is generated every month and, while there are still buildings that have room to accommodate open enrollment, they might not be a student’s or a parent’s first choice.

“We need to look at a capacity comparison and start getting some data points before we decide where the sky is falling,” said Begeny. “We don’t want to get caught all of sudden where it’s too late to do anything because we have to start turning people away.”

The district’s open enrollment policy allows students who meet criteria established by the board to enroll in Reynoldsburg schools where space is available.

Resident students who move out of the district mid-year may apply to continue the school year as an open enrollment student.

According to district policy, no interdistrict open enrollment transfer will be approved if the enrollment would exceed district capacity limits for that grade level, school, program, or class. The superintendent or their designee determines limits based on the district’s staffing, finances, and other relevant resources available at the time the transfer is sought.

Capacity limits for open enrollment purposes are designed to leave space available for resident students who enroll over the summer. No student, once accepted for interdistrict open enrollment, is displaced even if enrollment exceeds district capacity limits.

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