The Governance Board of Koshkonong Trails School has temporarily relaxed its cap on the number of students per grade level group, to allow three last-minute students to enroll for 2019-20.

The board voted Sept. 9 to allow an eleventh-grader and two middle school students to open-enroll from Jefferson and Waterloo for 2019-20, despite that exceeding previously set caps of 12 students in grades 7-8, 12 students in grades 9-10 and six students in eleventh-grade.

The public charter school, that currently enrolls students in grades 7-11 and plans to add twelfth-grade in 2020-21, opened in the fall of 2018. It is part of the Cambridge School District and meets in a modular building at the Severson Learning Center, the school district’s 82-acre farm in the town of Christiana.

The school has an overall enrollment cap of 30 students. Adding the three additional students brings the overall enrollment up to 28 students – 13 middle schoolers and 15 high schoolers – for 2019-20.

The board also agreed to allow for similar flexibility early in the second semester in January 2020.

Koshkonong Trails lead teacher Laura Emrick said she’s “absolutely fine” with adding students through Friday, Sept. 13 as long as the total enrollment doesn’t exceed 30. She said aligning credits earned at a different school becomes difficult after the first two weeks of the term, as does setting students up with online courses for foreign language and other subjects and settling them into the school’s project-based learning structure.

“I absolutely support it. It’s nice to see students who are so passionate about attending our school,” Emrick said.

Emrick said the three seats became open after one student registered at the start of the school year but then unenrolled. Two other students also applied over the summer but then never registered, she said.

In an email after the meeting, Emrick said 33 students in all have applied for the 2019-20 school year and “all eventually had an opportunity to enroll.”

Emrick noted that “enrollment is first come, first serve based on the timestamp,” when enrollment is received.

Emrick said allowing some grade-level flexibility is good for students for whom Koshkonong Trails may be an alternative to learning at home online.

“If you turn students away when they are right at that point where this is the best thing for them, they may go to online options. The district loses them. And once they get comfortable learning at home online they may not come back,” Emrick said.

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