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Monroe board caps special education slots
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Public school open enrollment application period begins Feb. 1

MADISON - Wisconsin's public school open enrollment application period, which allows parents an opportunity to send their children to any public school district in the state, runs from Monday to April 29 for the 2016-17 school year.

Traditionally, children in Wisconsin are assigned to public school districts based on the location of their parents' home. Under open enrollment, parents can send their children to a public school in a different district without paying tuition.

The state's open enrollment program is administered by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Parents may apply during the three-month application period to the school district they wish their children to attend using the online application website. Early and late applications are not accepted. Districts will notify parents by June 10 whether their open enrollment applications have been approved. Although an alternate application procedure allows parents to apply for open enrollment outside of the three-month application period, there are more restrictions associated with the alternate procedure.

n Transportation to and from a nonresident school, in most circumstances, is the responsibility of the parent. However, some school districts may provide partial transportation. Parents with questions should call the nonresident school district office.

n Parents and guardians may complete open enrollment applications online at The online application will be available from midnight Monday until 4 p.m. April 29.

n Parents are limited to no more than three applications to nonresident school districts for each child during the open enrollment application period.

n Parents may request enrollment in a specific school or program in the nonresident school district; however, enrollment is subject to space and other limitations and is not guaranteed.

MONROE - For the first time, special education open enrollment spaces will be limited in the Monroe school district, according to Director of Pupil Services Joe Monroe.

Regular education open enrollment spaces in Monroe are not limited - and haven't been in the past - but the school board decided Monday to limit spaces for special education open enrollment for the 2016-17 school year. Board members said they will have to revisit the issue next year.

The special education programs in each school within the district - including for cognitive disabilities, emotional and behavioral disabilities and speech/language disabilities - have different limits ranging from 5 to 35 students.

If the particular program that a special education open enrollment applicant needs is full, the district could deny the student enrollment. But if a student with special needs moves to Monroe and enrolls, the district would have to accommodate the student even if that means exceeding the limits, he said.

When asked if he thought the district would be turning away students due to the limits, Monroe said it's hard to predict who's going to apply and which programs they would need.

He said he and District Administrator Cory Hirsbrunner came up with the number of students each special education program can handle based on the students already here. The limits include existing students.

Setting a cap on enrollment could help protect the district financially when new funding rules take effect for special education open enrollment next year.

Currently, a district accepting a nonresident student with special needs would bill the student's resident district for the basic open enrollment fee ($6,635 last year) plus extra costs needed for the student's education. Starting next year, Monroe said, districts will instead receive a flat $12,000 fee per nonresident special education student, regardless of the actual costs.

"For the vast majority of those kids who open enroll, we will realize significantly more funds than we had previously, but we also need to be prepared for the fact that we're going to take a hit on a couple of kids who come in, and there's really no way to predict who those kids are going to be and how that's going to happen," he said. "And these case load limits give us some protection so we can say, 'here's what we can reasonably manage.'"