Open Boundaries Policy Information
This page will be used to update the public about the open boundaries law enacted by the Kansas Legislature in 2022. Please check back as more information becomes available.
The following is a letter from Superintendent Brett White.
You may recall that in 2022, the Kansas Legislature passed a law requiring all school districts in the state to have a policy allowing for students living outside their district boundaries to attend their schools, if there is capacity to do so. With this new law going into effect for the 2024-25 school year, we wanted to provide an update on the process for adopting this policy, and what it could mean for Andover Public Schools.
Historically, Andover Public Schools has been a “closed” district, meaning students must live within district boundaries to attend. The only exceptions have been the children of staff members working in the district at least 20 hours per week. Most districts in the state, including many suburban districts in the Wichita metro area, already allow students from outside their district to attend. This law will be a more dramatic shift for some districts than it will for others.
The new law essentially requires districts to follow a two-step process:
- Adopt a policy for how the Board of Education will determine capacity for each school in the district. At its regular meeting last Monday, our Board had its first discussion about the proposed policy, which is based almost entirely on language from the statute. The Board will hold a public hearing about the policy, as required by statute, on Wednesday, Nov. 8, at 6:30 p.m. at the District Office, 1432 N. Andover Road. We invite public comment at that meeting or through the form on this page.
Concerns about the law itself, and the requirement to admit out-of-district students, should be directed to the legislators who collectively enacted the law. Hopefully you have been making your voice heard to your elected legislators throughout this process. Here is a list of Kansas House of Representatives members and Kansas Senate members if you would like to contact them to share thoughts, questions, or concerns.
The Board may discuss the policy again at its Nov. 13 meeting, and is scheduled to take action on the policy at the Board of Education meeting on Dec. 11.
- In the spring, the district must determine the capacity that each of our schools has to enroll out-of-district students. In grades K-8, that capacity is determined by grade level and by school for each of our elementary and middle buildings. It can be determined by factors such as student-teacher ratios, projected enrollment trends and maximum capacity of classrooms and other spaces in the school.
In grades 9-12, capacity is determined for each high school as a whole, rather than at each specific grade. The same factors, plus anticipated demand for particular courses or programming, can be used in making this determination at the high school level.
The district must determine the number of open seats available to nonresidents at each grade, building or program level by May 1, and publish that information on its website by June 1.
From June 1-30, the district must accept applications from out-of-district students. If the number of out-of-district students applying is less than the capacity available, all students must be admitted. If the number of applicants is more than capacity, the district must hold a lottery process to determine who will be accepted.
Per statute, priority is given to military students, students in the custody of the Department of Children and Families and, in future years, to any sibling who already has been accepted to enroll in our schools, as long as there are open spots for those siblings. Once a student has been accepted, he or she can remain an Andover student until graduation, provided the student meets attendance and behavioral expectations specified in the policy. Out-of-district families will be notified by July 15 if they have been accepted to enroll for that school year.
Obviously, there are a lot of nuances to the new law, and we’re planning how these processes will work in our district. As the district works to determine capacity numbers in the spring, we must consider a variety of factors, including:
Because state funding is largely based on student enrollment numbers, an increase in students increases the resources available to the district to educate students. The reality is that this year’s graduating classes will have approximately 120 more students than this year’s kindergarten classes. Barring significant new housing development or an uptick in birth rates, our enrollment numbers are likely to continue to remain flat or slightly decline in the coming years. Thus, the law requiring districts to admit nonresident students, subject to capacity, will ease budgetary pressures.
We have made a concerted effort to decrease class sizes in recent years. One of the challenges for this spring, as we identify the number of open spots for nonresident students, will be to establish a reasonable “buffer” between current student-teacher ratios and the capacity we may have that accounts for new students enrolling in our district over the summer and during the school year.
As state law stands today, school districts receive state funding based on enrollment numbers from the higher of the past two years. If we were to see an increase in students, it would be the following year (2025-26) when we receive state funding to educate those students. Essentially, there could be a gap between new students enrolling and the resources it takes to educate those new students.
We expect that many property owners in our district will be concerned about how this new law may affect property values, which we certainly understand. I encourage you to discuss that topic with your legislators, though living in the Andover school boundaries remains the only guaranteed way to attend our schools. Anyone living outside district boundaries may or may not be selected in a potential lottery to attend. In addition, nonresident students will have to pay the enrollment fees charged to resident students. Statute prohibits the district from charging higher fees for nonresident students than our resident families pay.
Unless required by laws pertaining to a student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or 504 plan, districts have no obligation to transport nonresident students.
Our Board of Education and district leadership look forward to hearing your feedback as we navigate this new law and policy.
Brett White, Superintendent
Andover Public Schools