With a district growing so quickly it’s become challenging to predict, Oregon School District officials are reducing open enrollment seats to students outside the district.
The seats allotted for the 2020-21 school year are smaller than previous years, 643 for residents, 99 for non-residents. The nonresident spots in particular have dropped significantly since hovering between 171 and 221 most of the past decade.
District superintendent Brian Busler noted how quickly the district is growing from within. Even since the official state count in late September, he said, the district has gained more than 20 students.
Figuring out a number was particularly challenging this year, district in-house counsel and human resources director Jina Jonen said.
Jonen, who gave the recommendations on enrollment numbers, said that’s because of the amount of new homes going up around the district, particularly in the Terravessa development in Fitchburg, where the new elementary school is being built.
She also pointed out there is a bottleneck at Oregon Middle School, which is at capacity. That means even though there is room at lower grades with the opening of Forest Edge Elementary School in Fitchburg (a K-6 building) , there isn’t at OMS.
The district is expecting to bring a referendum to build a new middle school to its voters in the next few years.
“Without a new middle school, we’re very tight there,” she said. “We don’t want to be a closed district; we want to have some space for open enrollment, but we tried to be conservative with so many things (construction) happening this spring. We know our resident growth is going to be greater than it has been in the past, but we don’t know what grades.”
The open enrollment numbers the board approved mark the lowest level in residential seats available since 401 in the 2016-17 school year. Non-resident seats dropped to 99 from 110 last year, and a recent high of 221 in 2014-15.