Chapter 220 proposal likely would mean higher property taxes
Fewer seats would be offered in Elmbrook
Elmbrook School Board members are expected to reduce the number of Chapter 220 students in the district in 2010-11 by about 12 percent from this school year. It's a move that likely will raise property taxes for district residents, but could lead to Elmbrook having more money to spend in schools.
The Chapter 220 program allows Milwaukee students to attend suburban districts. The board will consider a proposal Tuesday that no new seats be opened next school year and that 15 contingency seats be made available for siblings of current Chapter 220 students. Some seats would be lost through attrition, dropping the district's Chapter 220 enrollment from 290 to 254.
The lost enrollment could be made up through the Open Enrollment program, which allows any student to attend a school not in their home district. That board has yet to approve that idea.
Open Enrollment students benefit the district's bottom line without necessarily reducing the burden on local taxpayers, whereas money entering the district through the Chapter 220 program reduces the tax levy without affecting the district's budget.
Aid would decrease
Elmbrook receives about $11,000 per Chapter 220 student - a total of about $3 million - in state integration aid.
Keith Brightman, assistant superintendent for finance and operations, said the owner of a $300,000 house pays about $113 less in property taxes each year thanks to the program.
Enrolling fewer Chapter 220 students would mean less aid, but would not impact the revenue cap. Additional property taxes likely would be levied to replace the lost aid.
Increasing the number of Open Enrollment students, however, allows the district to collect more money in a given year than it otherwise could.
"In a period of flat to declining enrollment, the Open Enrollment program helps the bottom line because it provides revenues outside the revenue cap," Christine Hedstrom, assistant superintendent for human resources said in a memo.
Since resident enrollment is decreasing, the district's revenue cap is shrinking.
District administrators have planned for Elmbrook's Chapter 220 participation to decline by about 20 students each year, Hedstrom said.
Diversity a consideration
Elmbrook's participation in Chapter 220 will cost about $1.7 million this school year, Brightman said.
Board member Glen Allgaier said that amount is enough to give him pause.
However, there's more to Chapter 220 participation than district costs and state aid revenue. The program is intended to increase diversity in suburban school districts while allowing Milwaukee Public Schools students access to a suburban district education.
That complicates the decision, Allgaier said.
"I believe it is a very good thing for the students who come here," he said.
BY THE NUMBERS
Chapter 220 students enrolled during the 2008-09 school year. Of those students:
Moved out of state
Moved into the district
Chapter 220 students returned for the 2009-10 school year
WHAT: vote on 2010-11 Chapter 220 seats
WHERE: Elmbrook Central Administrative Offices, 13780 Hope St., Brookfield
WHEN: 7 p.m. Tuesday
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