Charter schools bolster district enrollment plans

Growth of outdoor and virtual learning options allows NOSD to offer more than 500 open seats next year
Ozaukee Press Staff

Bolstered by its two growing charter schools, the Northern Ozaukee School District will make more than 500 seats available through open enrollment for the 2021-2022 school year.

The total includes 340 open-enrollment seats from K-4 through grade 12, up from 327 last year, at the district’s “brick-and-mortar” campus in Fredonia, according to the plan approved by the School Board on Monday.

If all those seats were taken by students living outside the district, that would boost the district’s enrollment to 1,010, exceeding the current 701 at the district’s three schools — Ozaukee Elementary, Middle and High schools.

The open-enrollment period, during which students living outside the district can apply to attend NOSD schools, runs from Feb. 1 through April 30.

In addition, the district’s two charter schools — Riveredge Outdoor Learning Elementary School (ROLES) and Wisconsin Virtual Learning (WVL) — are making additional open-enrollment seats available.

ROLES, now in its second year, is making 30 seats for students available, which would boost the school’s enrollment to 108 students, up from 78.

ROLES also has five special-education seats available through open enrollment. The school currently has two special-education students.

The school at Riveredge Nature Center uses the outdoors as a year-round classroom and has been in high demand, officials said, drawing families from 10 school districts, with some families driving from as far away as 45 minutes, ROLES Principal Mike Mullens told the School Board Monday.

“It’s amazing how far people will drive to attend our school,” he said.

The school added a second building this year and plans to add another to use on days when outdoor learning is not practical.

The school has two “hammock villages,” with 55 hammocks between them where children often can be found reading or journaling for hours on end, Mullens said.

If more families apply than there are seats available, as happened last year, a lottery will be held to determine who receives seats. ROLES gives preference to returning students, their siblings and children of ROLES staff and members of its governance board.

Wisconsin Virtual Learning, the NOSD’s online school, will make 155 seats available for open-enrollment students. If all were filled, the school’s total enrollment would grow to 530, well more than the school’s current enrollment of 375.

WVL also seeks to fill 20 special-education seats through open enrollment, which would bring that total to 45.

Because it is an online school, WVL draws students from around the state and has seen a big boost in enrollment as more families turn to online learning due to concerns with  the Covid-19 virus.

WVL Principal Mike Leach said he expects those concerns and subsequent growth to continue into next school year.   

WVL has averaged a little more than 300 students in recent years.

NOSD’s base revenue per pupil is more than $10,091, with the open-enrollment rate for a regular-education student projected to be $8,125.  The difference between these two amounts is retained by NOSD for resident students.

As ROLES’ fiscal agent, NOSD receives $35,000 annually for the next three years, plus $500 per student and the approximately one-third of the state aid that accompanies any child who attends the school from outside the district.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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