Lakota’s enrollment center: Tiny building, big job

The “front door” for enrolling students in Ohio’s eighth largest public school system can be found in a former bus garage next to a demolished building.

But only the appearance of Lakota Local Schools’ Enrollment Center is unassuming.

The center operates out of smallish, renovated building on the school campus of the just-leveled former Union School in Olde West Chester. The former school site is being readied for construction of the new Boys & Girls Club of West Chester and Liberty Townships.

The center and its seven staff members recently handled more than 700 new families and their children’s enrollment into the 16,500-student school district.

But it’s how the enrollment center, which operates its 2,000-square-foot office at 8735 Cincinnati-Dayton Road, goes about enrolling new students that helps save the district thousands of dollars in state school funding.

Students’ statuses — financially, English proficiency, academics, health — all come into play when parents register their children to attend Lakota. And due to extensive and often complex state funding requirements, all those variables have to be noted, coded and entered into the state’s school database, said Pam Zeigler, Education Management Information System (EMIS) specialist and Enrollment Center Manager.

“Every student that comes in is different,” said Zeigler, and the enrollment process determines which of Lakota’s 22 schools in West Chester and Liberty townships the child will attend.

“We make sure all families are greeted warmly and efficiently, streamlining the enrollment process so that the student, in some cases, is in the classroom the very next day. We also provide support to 22 buildings and their administrators, secretaries, teachers and counselors,” she said.

“When not enrolling students, the Enrollment Center staff is busy entering, verifying and reporting all student and staff EMIS data to the Ohio Department of Education, which directly impacts our funding and district report card,” she said.

In the last year alone, the data side of the center’s operations identified and submitted nearly 70 filings for students with what the state defines as high-dollar disabilities, recovering almost $290,000 in state funding to support such students.

Lack of space in Lakota’s Central Office in Liberty Twp. forced the center’s move in 2010 to Olde West Chester.

Robb Voglemann, acting superintendent for Lakota Schools, said, “the team’s recent commitment to bring staff and student data management under the same roof has translated to substantial cost savings for the school district. I am proud of the vision the team had for this part of the district’s operations and so pleased with how the team has brought it to life over the last couple years.”

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