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State Senator Says Open Enrollment Causes Taxation Without Representation

Des Moines, Iowa — A state senator wants to adjust the financing for students who attend school outside the district in which they live.

It’s called “open enrollment,” and it’s common across northwest Iowa. For 30 years, Iowa parents have been able to enroll their kids in public school districts outside the one in which they live. Senator Tom Greene, a Republican from Burlington, says it’s “a real financial issue” for districts that are losing students. “I think open enrollment is here to stay,” Greene says. “It’s not going to change and I understand that, but what I want to do is change the funding mechanism.” Greene is proposing that the home district — where the student lives — keep of 12 percent of the “per pupil” spending for each student who “open enrolls” into another district.

Green says that means all the state and federal tax dollars would follow a student to the other school, but the taxes paid by local property owners would stay put. Green says sending property tax dollars to another district is “taxation without representation.”


Before his election to the state senate, Greene was a member of the Burlington School Board and served as its president.

Open enrollment is commonly used in districts around northwest Iowa for several reasons including parental preference, keeping students with their friends, keeping students in the same school when the family moves just slightly out of the district, and more.

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