ELLSWORTH, Wis. -- The Ellsworth School Board voted unanimously to continue allowing open enrollment of general education students outside the district during its monthly meeting Monday, Jan. 13, 2020.

The vote came in response to a recent change in Wisconsin statutes regarding limits in class sizes. The change said that if any limits were put on spaces in general education classes, then it would shut down alternative open enrollment for periods of time. School officials wouldn’t be able to accept students if any limit was put on that grade level.

“So, let’s say you this meeting today. You set the limits for next year,” District Superintendent Barry Kane said. “If a family approaches you in February and says, ‘We want to open enroll into your district,’ we cannot accept that student no matter the limit you have. So, you could say you have 100 spaces available — you put that limit as 100, and one person comes in on an alternative open enrollment, we could not accept that person into the district.”

He added that district administrators don’t feel it would be beneficial simply to shut down open enrollment possibilities for incoming families. Using his meeting last week at the Middle Border superintendents' meeting as an example, he said other school districts were of the same mindset that they would take no action in placing limits on spaces available for grades 4-year kindergarten through 12.

Board member Steven Mark questioned the rationale behind the change if Ellsworth sets a space number limit but that limit still isn’t reached.

“You said it — having a very hard time connecting the dots. I would simply be applying my own best guess to the rationale from the state level,” Kane said. “I would prefer not to do that, but I think you do see agendas to begin to limit this or not. It’s not in our best interest to limit. In our minds why would we want to be shutting that open enrollment down, but this is what goes on with numerous topics at the state level. That’s just my best guess.”

He again requested that the School Board take no action in limiting open enrollment spaces available, which the entire board approved of soon after.

The board will next at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 10m in the Ellsworth Elementary School Community Room.