School district expects leap in enrollment

NOSD officials cite opening of Riveredge charter school as major reason for projected increase in 2019-20
Ozaukee Press Staff

The Northern Ozaukee School District will likely see a jump in enrollment next year due at least in part to the creation of a new charter school at the Riveredge Nature Center.

The district is making available 307 slots for students in kindergarten through 12th grade who enroll from outside the district. That includes up to 72 kindergarten through fifth-grade students at the Riveredge Outdoor Learning Elementary School, or ROLES, a new charter school that begins operating this fall.

“We are anticipating a pretty good jump in enrollment because of ROLES,” Supt. Dave Karrels said.

If all the open-enrollment seats are filled, the district enrollment would be almost 1,000, Karrels said. That doesn’t include about 70 children, including 20 through open enrollment, who would attend 4K, nor does it include students who attend Wisconsin Virtual Learning, an online charter school sponsored by NOSD that has a current enrollment of 324.

If all those seats are taken, it might mean the district will need to hire staff.

“Should we approach the possible enrollment numbers in some of our grade levels, we would need to be aware of the need for additional staff to keep class sizes at an appropriate level for our community,” Karrels wrote this week in a memo to the Northern Ozaukee School Board.

The state Department of Public Instruction requires districts to determine in January the number of seats available for open enrollment the following school year. 

The open-enrollment period begins Feb. 4 and runs through April 30.

NOSD has been more aggressive than many districts in marketing itself to attract students through open enrollment, taking out newspaper advertisements, using social media and through other means.

Those efforts have paid off, Karrels said.

“In an age of generally declining enrollment, we have been able to see annual increases of two to three percent,” he said.

ROLES would conduct classes outdoors year-round on the Riveredge grounds north of Newburg. It would be the first such school in southeast Wisconsin and one of only a few in the state.

Attendance at ROLES initially was expected to be 30 to 40 students. That rose to about 60 a few months ago and now stands at 72 as interest in the school has risen. The school is approved to accept up to 99 students.

Officials said that parents living in 20 different school districts expressed interest in their children attending the school.

“We anticipate a strong interest and steady enrollment,” Riveredge Executive Director Jessica Jens told School Board members in a memo. 

If the number of applications exceeds the seats available, a lottery will be held, Jens said.

Last year, the school was awarded a $700,000 start-up grant through the state Department of Public Instruction that will be paid out over the next five years.

NOSD will serve as the school’s fiscal agent and will receive 5%, or $35,000, of that money over those five years, plus $500 per student and an additional one-third of state aid that accompanies any child who attends the school from outside the district.

The first information meeting for parents on ROLES will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24, at Riveredge.




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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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