Open Enrollment Could Trigger Cuts

Thursday, September 15, 2011 - 12:34pm

Controversial Missouri law could trigger financial crisis for some schools.

Missouri State Board of Education members will soon tackle open enrollment.

It is an issue still being decided in court.

However, there is already a lot at stake.

In Raytown, following the pledge of allegiance during Monday night's board meeting, six women who sometimes wonder if their work goes unnoticed received handfuls of confirmation.

"It feels good to be appreciated," said Anne Rose, one of the district's Parents as Teachers staff members.

Rose, a 14-year veteran of the program, said she and her colleagues really seek only one reward.

"To see the kids we work with succeed and do well in school," Rose said. "We see them loving school. Most of them go on and are really high achievers in school."

Creating quality schools is superintendent Dr. Alan Markley's job in Raytown.

He is staring down a major challenge, though.

"It's not just a Raytown issue," Dr. Markley said. "It's a Lee's Summit issue, Independence, Blue Springs issue."

It affects 29 cooperating districts in greater Kansas City and many more across Missouri.

A state Supreme Court case, still being settled, gives students in any district without accreditation the right to transfer to one that has accreditation.

That option exists whether the receiving district can handle additional students or not.

If administered without further detail, Dr. Markley sees problems.

"The schools in Raytown could get more crowded," Dr. Markley said. "We may not be able to offer some things due to budget constraints if the dollars don't follow the students. There are many issues."

State school board of education member Stan Archie said his colleagues are preparing a workshop discussion next week.

They are trying to find a fair way to implement the court's decision.

"You don't want to have a massive exit of a district," Archie said. "We really want to be able to monitor the movement to be able to ensure the best quality education for all students."

Whatever happens, Rose just hopes programs like Parents as Teachers, which has already suffered significant cuts in Raytown and in other districts, survives.

At this point, no one can make any promises.

"We will always do what is best for the child," Dr. Markley said.

In a statement, the executive director of the Cooperating School Districts of Greater Kansas City said the group's 29 members are watching the discussion closely.

"The Cooperating School Districts of Greater Kansas City CSDGKC can support reasonable parameters and procedures that govern the transfer of students among school districts," said Gayden Carruth. "Local district control is essential in the establishment of these parameters. There are space and financial implications for sending and receiving districts that can negatively impact a school or community. Member districts of CSDGKC support providing all children with a quality education."

Missouri's state school board will meet to discuss this issue Monday.

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