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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — Why do parents open enroll their children out of the Colfax school district?
This is a question Colfax school administrators and the Colfax Board of Education have been asking, and to answer that question, Polly Rudi, Director of Special Education and Pupil Services in the Colfax school district, sent out a survey to parents and presented those results at the January 20 school board meeting.
The number one reason people open enroll their students out of the district is because of work-related convenience, Rudi said.
The school where the students are open enrolled is either on the way to work for parents or is halfway between work and home, she said.
Rudi sent out 58 surveys, and 19, or 33 percent, were completed and returned.
A statistically-significant minimum sample size for 58 surveys would be nine surveys completed and returned.
“Statistically significant” means the sample size is large enough so the results are not just due to chance and reliable enough to allow for drawing some conclusions.
According to survey results Rudi handed out to the school board, “convenience” was the reason 10 respondents said they open enrolled their students elsewhere, representing 52.6 percent of the responses.
The second reason people open enroll their students elsewhere is because of daycare, Rudi said.
Five of the respondents, or 26.3 percent, gave daycare as a reason, with comments suggesting daycare was in a convenient location to a workplace and not because daycare is not available, although one respondent did say after school care was not available in the Colfax school district, she said.
The third reason people open enrolled their students elsewhere is because of athletic opportunities, Rudi said.
Four of the respondents, or 21 percent, said they open enrolled their students because of athletic opportunities, such as hockey, larger C team football opportunities, soccer and wrestling located on school grounds, she said.
The fourth reason people open enroll their students elsewhere is because of the location of the Colfax school district, Rudi said.
Six respondents, or 31.6 percent, said the Colfax school district is farther away from their home than the school district where their students are open enrolled, she said.
The fifth reason people open enroll their students is because of curricular concerns.
Three of the respondents, or 15.8 percent, said they open enroll because of the lack of spiritual education or because of the comparative test scores in the Colfax school district in 2005, Rudi said.
“What we found out is a lot is out of our control,” she said.
People mostly open enroll out of the Colfax school district for convenience for their family, either the location of the school or daycare is on a parent’s way to work, or the school where they are open enrolled is much closer to their home, Rudi said.
“We were looking for trends and patterns,” said William C. Yingst Jr., district administrator.
The majority of the answers indicate there is nothing Colfax should try to change about the programming or course offerings, he said.
The information from the survey is “good data,” and the school district should continue to do follow-ups to gather more information, Yingst said.
The project to install solar powered beacon lights that will draw more attention to the crosswalk on University Avenue has been put on hold, Yingst reported to the Board of Education.
The Village of Colfax and the School District of Colfax worked together to secure funding and to coordinate installing the beacon lights.
The total cost of the project is $10,298. The school district covered a little more than half of the cost, and the village received some grant money to put toward the rest of the cost, with the village’s Department of Public Works set to install the solar powered beacons.
Unfortunately, Diggers Hotline found so many lines running underground that the project will have to be dug in by hand, Yingst said.
Installation of the solar powered beacons will have to be put off until spring, when the frost is out of the ground, he said.
The initial goal was to have the beacons installed before the start of the school year.
Then the goal was to have the beacon lights installed before January 1.
Now it’s anybody’s guess as to when the frost will come out of the ground, Yingst noted.
In other business, the Colfax Board of Education:
• Learned that the ballot order for the school board election April 7 will be Kenneth Bjork, Jodi Kiekhafer, Christie Hill, Jaclyn Ackerlund and Gary Stene. The order was determined by the drawing of lots according to state statute 120.06(8)(b). The determination of order was supervised by Todd Kragness, school board president, who was appointed by the district clerk on January 8, and was witnessed by Ashley Goulet, Patti Grant and Yingst.
• Learned that the proposal for a 1 percent sales tax for school funding was turned down in committee and would not be advanced as a proposal to be considered during the Wisconsin Association of School Boards convention January 21 to January 24.
• Learned there has been a change in the summer driver’s education class because Safety and Respect has changed the classroom setting to an online program only. Safety and Respect has discovered that many more students take the class online than in the classroom, making it more feasible to offer only an online option, said John Dachel, Colfax High School principal.
• Accepted a $5,000 donation from the Sanger Foundation. The money will be put into the student assistance fund (Fund 21). Yingst said he always sends a “thank you” and includes a little bit of information about how the money will be used.
• Approved the 2020 summer school programs in swimming and regular classroom instruction in all areas, including music, agriculture and Summer Saunters. Swimming lessons for Colfax students will be in the Elk Mound High School swimming pool, and sign up forms will be sent out to parents this spring.
• Approved hiring Derek Westholm as the director for the spring musical. This year’s production will be “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” The cast for the play will include 90 students all together.
• Approved open enrollment spaces for regular education and special education. Given projected enrollment for the 2020-2021 school year, with allowances for regular education class section shifts and at 90 percent capacity, the following seats will be available per grade level: junior kindergarten, 7; kindergarten, 33; first grade, 35; second grade, 32; third grade, 31; fourth grade, 35; fifth grade, 26; sixth grade, 24; seventh grade, 28; eighth grade, 15; ninth grade, 17; 10th grade, 29; 11th grade, 27; 12th grade, 77. No seats are available for special education. Colfax is above the recommended ratio for students with Individual Educational Plans (IEPs), so no seats are available across all grade levels, Rudi said.
• Approved hiring Kyle Johnson as the middle school wrestling coach for the 2019-2020 school year. Trevor Hovde, Colfax Elementary principal, said he works with youth wrestling in grades four to eight and has worked with Johnson, who has previously coached in Ladysmith and Bruce.
The Colfax Board of Education meets next on February 17.