That familiar phrase "You can't have it both ways" certainly applies to the recent Coventry Local School District's (CLSD) open enrollment (OE) financial review. I was on the OE Committee that was supposed to investigate OE finances and voted against approving this review by the administration itself. Here's why:
According to our administration's self-assessment review, CLSD makes $3.5 million a year by accepting almost 800 OE students. However, in order to claim that much income from OE, they also had to claim that virtually no expenses other than teachers salaries were attributable to open enrollment. Here's where the "having it both ways" part comes in. Since their review claims it cost nothing to add and maintain space for hundreds of OE students, they had to claim their annual cost per resident student to be over $14,000 each. That's higher than most area private schools and far more than any similar school district in the county. If this is true, then they are the worst stewards of our tax dollars and should all resign.
On the other hand, if we are making $3.5 million a year on OE, why has our district been in fiscal watch for 19 years and now fiscal emergency?
Meanwhile, they refuse to admit that the $4.8 million debt we owe the State or the $1.5 million loan for modular classroom trailers along with over $350,000 in moving those trailers last year had anything to do with open enrollment. Not to mention the hundreds of thousands for renovating several buildings to make more classrooms.
When I asked the superintendent if they ever considered reducing OE when they closed a school building instead of borrowing for classroom trailers, he replied it was never even discussed. Yet we will be paying hundreds of thousands a year on the loan for these trailers for many years to come. This further illustrates why our district has been in financial disarray for over 20 years.
This administration wants it both ways. Contrary to the state's audit claiming the district loses over $1 million per year on open enrollment, they want you to believe their ridiculous claim that it costs an average of only around $2,000 a year per OE student vs. $14,000 for our resident students and the district is making millions on open enrollment and furthermore, none of the spending for "remodeling" or the excessive debt was due to expanding capacity for those hundreds of extra students. ... Yet, they are not ashamed to claim a cost per resident student 40 percent higher than similar districts. You just can't have it both ways!