Schools Turn To Transfers To Tame Budget Woes

By Jeff Neumeyer

July 14, 2010 Updated Jul 14, 2010 at 5:21 PM EDT

CHURUBUSCO, IN (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- Several Northeast Indiana public school districts are turning to recruiting to try and rescue troubled budgets.

The Smith-Green Community Schools system in Churubusco is one that is taking advantage of a new state law regarding transfer students that may help counter painful education funding cuts.

Rolling out the red carpet for non-resident transfer students can be a profitable pursuit, because bigger enrollments mean more revenue for individual public schools.

The Smith-Green school board voted unanimously on July 6th to approve the practice of accepting new students from outside their district, without charging tuition to those families.

The state legislature and Governor Daniels paved the way for schools to take on transfer students in this way with passage of Senate Enrolled Act 252 earlier this year.

Smith-Green Schools is losing more than $450,000 in funding due to education cuts.

But because schools get more money if enrollments go up, the district is promoting its small class sizes to try and draw in new kids.

Supt. Steve Darnell/Smith-Green Community Schools: " It's an opportunity the other school districts are taking. Whitko Schools, Lakeland, and other surrounding school districts, their boards have approved a similar move to make sure that parents are aware that there is flexibility now, there is somewhat of a choice in public education. If we would accept up to 50 new students, it could be close to $275,000 for the district."

Darnell says Smith-Green would take no more than 50 new students, to ensure crowded classrooms don’t become a problem for the district.

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