Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools gives in-district students preference when assigning new school boundaries, as opposed to open-enrolled students, district officials said at the School Board work session Tuesday.

The district will also share more information about its spending with the public following the meeting.

The board spent significant time on the boundary changes for elementary attendance coming in the 2020-2021 school year.

Following an update on resident feedback from a public information session on March 18, Director Melissa Enger said she worried open enrollment influences the school boundaries. In other words, she didn’t want students coming from other districts to get to pick their schools and bump in-district students to others.

“(Open-enrolled students) are in our district. So that’s part of the program, that we have the ability to reassign them,” Enger said. “That should be considered first before asking resident taxpayers to move.... We’re making exceptions and not considering in-district folks who are taxpayers.”

Assistant Superintendent Jeff Holmberg and other many of the other directors assured Enger in-district students were given first priority in where they would be placed when elementary boundaries change.

Holmberg explained boundary changes are intended to create neighborhood schools that have a capacity for current and future resident students — hopefully for five years down the line. He said the district first considers in-district students, then the requests from in-district students who want to transfer from their assigned schools before finally placing open-enrolled students.

“When people ask that, we should be saying, just so you know, that beginning of that school year, right now, open-enrolled students do not have a home,” Director Michael Nelson said. “They don’t know where they’re going to be. Because there is a perception out there that somehow open-enrolled students have some advantage. I don’t believe they do.”

Recommendations on the new boundaries will be presented to the board on April 22, and the board is expected to vote on the plans at the May 6 meeting.

Other board discussion centered around whether or not to include the details of monthly wire transfers and checks written by the district in the board packet. That document, presented every month to the board, goes on the district’s BoardBook in a series of linked documents accessible to the public.

Currently only the Treasurer is provided with the detail documents, and any board member may request to view individual statements. Two board members felt that’s an improper extra step for members to take for their oversight duties. Others were wary board members would micro-manage.

“Know that we’re an over $100 million dollar organization,” Vice Chair Stacey Ruelle said, adding she wouldn’t mind if it was done fairly and cut down on data requests. “I think we have to have the discussion of how it’s going to be handled.”

Director Mary Frantz argued in favor of the additions to the packet, comparing the current system to a broad view of a bank statement.

“It’s sort of like at the end of the month, instead of getting your bank statement — whether you decide to look over every line item — you only get the total,” Frantz said. “And then you’re supposed to just approve it for your bank. It shouldn’t be acceptable is I guess what I’m trying to say.”

The updated format will be available at the April 8 regular board meeting.


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