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Elmbrook district may phase out Chapter 220 enrollment

Oct. 10, 2012

The Elmbrook School District is making a move to phase out its Chapter 220 enrollment.

Under the plan, current students could finish their education in the district but siblings would not be allowed to enter the program beginning next school year. Next year would be the third consecutive year that siblings would not be allowed.

Preliminary discussion regarding the matter was held at Tuesday's School Board meeting, with an anticipated vote on Oct. 23.

In a prepared board packet statement, Keith Brightman, assistant superintendent of finance and operations, explained that the recommendation to wind down the program is based on state aid.

"The district has carefully considered the financial and educational impacts of it current participation in nonresident programs in relation to the current climate, including decreasing resident enrollment from year to year," Brightman said.

He added that while open enrollment provides additional revenue outside the revenue cap, Chapter 220 does not increase revenue per student because the aid associated with it already is included in the revenue cap.

Parental appeal

A couple of Chapter 220 parents from Milwaukee asked the board to reconsider and support continuing the program.

Sam Jackoyo, a resident of the Northwest Side of Milwaukee, said his son, a graduate of Brookfield Central, attended the district since the first grade. His daughter is a Central freshman. While he is not seeking to enroll other children, he appealed to the board to consider the positive elements of integration.

"We live in a global world," Jackoyo said. "This is an important program so that kids can see and know all the aspects of life. I can see the changes that have happened to my kids and I would like the district to keep the program for others."

Jesse Ortega, a resident of Milwaukee's Third Ward, said his 9-year-old daughter is a fourth-grader at Tonawanda, but has a 4-year-old son who would not be eligible if the board cuts off siblings.

Ortega described his education as "very poor" while growing up in East Chicago, Ind.

"Somehow, I came out all right," he said, adding that he graduated from Purdue University with a degree in aviation technology and has made a living as a corporate pilot, "But I know most kids don't do that well. We want both of our children to get the best possible education."

Ortega asked the board to consider doing everything they can to fund the program.

Differing board views

While some members of the School Board, including Jean Lambert and Meg Wartman, were sympathetic to the parents, they noted that the funding issue was beyond the district's control.

Brightman confirmed those sentiments when he pointed out that the district changing revenue limits would require an override referendum.

Bob Zeigler, though, said the issue should be an educational decision over finances. He pointed out that statistics show many Chapter 220 students score well above their counterparts who stay in Milwaukee.

Pointing out that 22 of the 214 Chapter 220 students currently enrolled are seniors and that the district statistics indicate 36 siblings would come in the following year, Zeigler said the total for 2013-14 "would not make that much of an impact."

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