Fifty-one Delavan-Darien School District students have applied to enroll out of the district in the past month, business administrator Anthony Klein told the school board during its meeting Monday.
Those applications bring the district’s total open-enrollment submissions to 154 this year, amounting to about $900,000 in anticipated financial losses for next school year, Klein said.
Many of the 51 newest open-enrollment applications are likely a response to the decisions to close Darien Elementary School and lay off 39 teachers after the district’s $3.5 million operational referendum failed last month, Klein said.
In early April, the board learned of 103 open-enrollment applications. Klein said that number—which amounted to about $680,000 in losses—contributed to the board’s decision to close Darien Elementary. Each student who enrolls out can cost the district about $7,372, Klein said, though that number can fluctuate from student to student.
The latest batch of open-enrollment applications deal another blow to a district wrapped in financial turmoil.
“We’ve been reaching out to families to see why they’re leaving us,” said Klein, who joined the district in March. “Hopefully they stay here. With them goes the money. You can’t staff with money you don’t have. That has led to a lot of very tough decisions.”
A third-party audit completed in April raised further financial questions for the district.
In the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years, Klein said the district’s payroll accrual wasn’t properly recorded. Summer payroll expenses were either recorded incorrectly or omitted during the fiscal years, leading an auditor to discover a budget deficit and forcing the district to shrink its budget by $506,030.
During the public comment portion of Monday’s meeting, Village of Darien President Kurt Zipp told the board the village would consider seceding from the district if the board closes Darien Elementary School.
“If you choose to close Darien Elementary School … we will form our own school district,” Zipp said. “This will be hard work, and we do not want to go down this path.”
The board voted to close Darien Elementary April 23. The board has indicated it will seek a referendum in November that would likely allow the district to reopen the school.
That vote would come too late for Zipp. He said if the district doesn’t open Darien Elementary before the 2018-19 school year begins, the village will propose its own referendum on the November ballot to establish its own district and “reclaim” the building.