Mehlville Board of Education is against open enrollment legislation

Students can go outside of district with open enrollment


By Erin Achenbach, News Editor

The Mehlville Board of Education passed a resolution earlier this month opposing any open enrollment legislation currently being considered by the Missouri Legislature.

The Board voted unanimously at its Feb. 2 meeting to approve a resolution stating that the board was against any open enrollment legislation. Open enrollment is a form of school choice that allows students to pick and transfer to the school of their choice, rather than attending a school based on where they live. There are different types of open enrollment, such as intradistrict open enrollment which only allows transferring to a school within the same district, or interdistrict, which allows students to attend school in a different district.

“Basically what open enrollment allows is the right to take your student and enroll them in the school of your choice and your tax dollars flow through that. It brings a lot of headache,” Board Director Jeff Wolman said.

Wolman is a member of the board’s legislative advocacy committee, which was created in 2021 to keep an eye on bills and legislation that could affect public education during Missouri’s yearly legislative sessions. According to Wolman, the committee is tracking 242 House Bills that have some relevance to education and 48 Senate Bills.

“Most of the other bills, it’s the usual mix of curriculum changes, changes for property tax, changes for tax … but the big one this year seems to be open enrollment,” Wolman said.

There are a couple bills dealing with open enrollment that the committee is watching: SB 5 and HB 559. SB 5 is sponsored by Sen. Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester, whose district previously included Sunset Hills before redistricting last year. HB 559 is sponsored by Rep. Ben Baker, R-Neosho. At press time, Koenig’s legislation had been placed on the informal calendar for perfection on Feb. 20, while Baker’s bill was referred to the education committee Jan. 17 — no action has been taken on Baker’s bill since.

“It brings a lot of concern and the big thing is it kind of starts the progression where you can have smaller schools start going through and getting even smaller because parents want to move their students to another school that gives them better options,” Wolman said. “It leads to consolidation. It also starts a cycle where schools can start trying to attract students because the tax dollars will follow them. It’s something that’s going to be a headache for all of us.”

The board approved the resolution unanimously with no discussion.