COVENTRY TWP. Hubbard Exempted Village Schools and Coventry Local Schools may not be neighboring school districts, but they are similar-sized schools in similar communities.
Hubbard is located just northeast of Youngstown in Trumbull County and has a population of about 13,500, split between the city of Hubbard and Hubbard Township. Coventry Township is home to roughly 10,900 residents.
Hubbard and Coventry both have approximately 2,000 students enrolled this school year.
In addition to population and number of students enrolled, both districts participate in statewide open enrollment.
When it comes to the state auditor’s performance audit, however, the districts are on opposite ends of the spectrum. The auditor said Coventry is losing more than $1 million each year from open enrollment, while reporting that Hubbard is gaining more than $1 million each year.
Hubbard has 256 open enrolled students; Coventry has 762.
Closer look at Hubbard
Hubbard has had open enrollment for about 12 years, according Superintendent Raymond Soloman.
Coventry, on the other hand, has had open enrollment for 24 years.
Soloman says the philosophy at Hubbard has been to carefully managed the number open enrollment studetns so the cost doesn’t outweigh the gain.
"What we do at Hubbard is accept enough students to fill the gaps without hiring new teachers," Soloman said.
Soloman said the auditor’s results reflect the districts policy of managing open enrollment.
Of the district’s 256 open enrolled students, 18 are the children of school employees. The remainder largely come from the nearby Brookfield, Campbell, Liberty or Youngstown districts, Soloman said.
Soloman said the goal at Hubbard always is not to increase the cost of educating students. He has served as superintendent for three years and said the number of open enrolled students has remained consistent.
Hubbard has a board policy in place that states the district cannot have more than 250 open enrolled students. Soloman said the reason the district has slightly more than the 250 is due to a larger number students who are children of employees.
Transportation is the responsibility of the parents when it comes to open enrolled students in Hubbard, according to Soloman, who added the most important aspect for his district is working within its means.
"We are here for the kids," Soloman said.
When Hubbard started open enrollment, Soloman said the community had some questions and concerns, but now most are supportive of it.
"When I go into the buildings and see students they are all Hubbard students," Soloman said.
Soloman said it isn’t his place to say if a policy like Hubbard’s would work in Coventry, but he believes the reason the policy in Hubbard is has been successful has been due to closely monitoring the number of open enrolled students being accepted.
Coventry Local Schools Superintendent Russell Chaboudy said he doesn’t like to compare Coventry to Hubbard because there are many differences. One, he said, is Hubbard is fairly new to open enrollment.
Chaboudy also added that Coventry has had a long history of financial problems dating to the 1970s. He said one of the reasons for that is since the state recognizes Coventry as wealthy district, it loses out on state funding. Hubbard, which isn't considered a wealthy district, receives a higher percentage of funding from the state. According to the Ohio Department of Education, Coventry receives just 22 percent of its general fund budget from the state, compared to 49 percent for Hubbard.
Chaboudy said Coventry takes a close look every year to see where the seats need filled. He also said the district is not adding staff, but making cuts to get its finances in order.
"For the last 10 years, all we have done is cut people and cut programs," Chaboudy said.
There is a demand to get into Coventry Schools and some grade levels have a waiting list, according to Chaboudy.
This past school year, the district had 39 applications for kindergarten students through open enrollment. It accepted 19.
While the districts may share similarities, Chaboudy believes comparing the two is unfair.
"Coventry is a different animal than Hubbard," he said.