Open enrollment season starts

Lockers at Lineville Intermediate School in Suamico, Monday, Jan. 27, 2014. (WLUK/Eric Peterson)
Lockers at Lineville Intermediate School in Suamico, Monday, Jan. 27, 2014. (WLUK/Eric Peterson)

Correction: A previous version referred to recent enrolled out numbers provided by the Green Bay Area Public Schools and clarifies the number of enrolled out students, by the district's estimates.

GREEN BAY – If you're looking to send your child to another school district in the state, you can now start applying.

The three-month period allowing parents to apply to send their children to any public school outside their own districts is now open.

Open enrollment has been an option for thousands of Wisconsin public school students since it started in the 1998-1999 school year.

This year, parents like Sarah LeClair of Green Bay gladly welcome the option.

LeClair’s four-year-old daughter Lillian is currently in 4K classes at a Green Bay private school, along with her brother in first grade. But the school is closing and that has Lillian's mom, Sarah LeClair in a bind.

“Of course, when you have kids, you don't think about this stuff right away – I didn’t know about open enrollment," said LeClair.

That is why she is hoping open enrollment will help her find a district – possibly outside of Green Bay – to provide the educational requirements she wants for her children. Especially as she wants to ensure her daughter is placed into a 5K class.

"There's a few options we're looking at," said LeClair.

One of those options LeClair says she’s looking at is Ashwaubenon Public Schools, because of its convenience and it being close to home on Green Bay’s southwest side. Something district administrators say is a big draw.

"They like the quality of the education, the variety of programming," said Ashwaubenon Assistant Superintendent Keith Lucius. He says the district has seen its fair share of parents choosing to send their children to its schools over the years.

"Really, more of a parent preference, if they see something that they like – we feel like we have a little more of a smaller district."

Among the school districts in Brown County, in 2011-2012, 700 students transferred to Ashwaubenon, while only 52 transferred out. While in Green Bay, 145 students transferred in, while nearly 1,100 transferred out. The next school year, those numbers increased even more on both ends – 777 and 1,436, respectively.

In total, over the two school years, Ashwaubenon gained more than 1,400 students, while Green Bay lost more than 2,100 to other districts.

"A lot of the students that are open enrolling out, haven't even been in our district," explained Green Bay Area Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Kim Pahlow in a phone interview with FOX 11.

By the district's count, Pahlow says between 2011 and 2013, nearly 400 students enrolled out of the district; but points out that district estimates has that number nearly cut in half for the current 2013-2014 school year.

Pahlow says those enrolled out numbers are still higher than they would like to see. But says the improvements of current curriculum and school expansions are drawing students to the district now and will in the future.

An idea LeClair is open to if she doesn't home school her children – that is if open enrollment doesn’t help her find what she wants.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, more than 44,600 students moved into or transferred to a public school district in 2012-2013. The DPI estimates this school year's open enrollment numbers to total more than 48,700.

Parents can apply during the three month enrollment window; districts will inform parents if their children were accepted by early June. Parents are responsible for transportation of their children.