New Riveredge school will use lottery to select first students

Outdoor learning facility has 31 more applicants than open seats for inaugural year
By 
DAN BENSON
Ozaukee Press Staff

With the state open-enrollment period ending Tuesday, applications to the new Riveredge Outdoor Learning Elementary School (ROLES) exceeded the number of seats available.

Riveredge Nature Center Executive Director Jessica Jens said 103 students applied to fill the 72 seats available. The numbers include: kindergarten, 40; first grade, 18; second grade, 20; third grade, 9; and fourth grade, 16.

ROLES is an independent charter of the Northern Ozaukee School District and will open this fall with an average of 18 students per grade. In addition to kindergarten, first and second grades, there will be a combined class for third and fourth grades.

A lottery will be held for grades in which there are more applicants than available seats.

“We will be doing a lottery process for all grades, starting with the fourth grade,” Jens said in an email. “That being said, it currently appears that all third and first-graders will be offered a spot at the school.”

A waiting list will be created for all grades for students who don’t get a seat via the lottery or who apply later. 

“We anticipate (the waiting list) will be well used during the summer as families either accept or decline a spot at the school,” Jens said.

The school will have a year-round outdoor classroom that will be on 40 acres of the nature center in the Town of Saukville near Newburg. The town recently rezoned the acreage from parks to institutional to allow the school.

Ultimately, enrollment is expected to top out at between 99 and 108 students in kindergarten through fifth grade, Jens said.

Plans also call for eventually building an education center on the land.

ROLES is the first outdoor school in southeast Wisconsin and one of just a few in the state, officials said. It is a tuition-free public school that follows the Northern Ozaukee School District calendar.

ROLES students will take state standardized tests.

The school is an independent organization led by a governance council. It is financially self-sustaining and will receive state aid.

Riveredge already has a popular outdoor 4K program that it operates in partnership with the Kettle Moraine YMCA and the West Bend School District. The center also holds summer camps and outdoor activities that model how the new school might operate.

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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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