EDISON – Long lines at the Edison Board of Education office for enrollment registration during the past few summers has been a longtime concern and prompted calls for change.
And change is what is happening. With Richard Benedict, manager of district enrollment and data systems, taking the lead, the Edison Township Public School District has moved to online registration.
Benedict, who presented the online registration system at a board meeting on April 10, said they had roughly 30 people pilot the online registration during the past year.
“The [online registration] acts as catch filter. … If you don’t live in Edison, [the application process is] going to stop you right there. If not age appropriate, it’s going to stop,” he said.
Although the application process stops, Benedict said the district still receives the information.
“From that point, our staff will reach out to the parents to discuss why their child is not qualified, whether it was based on age or when a person moves into town, we ask them to let us know [when age appropriate or have moved into town] so that we could bring them back into the system,” he said.
Once the online registration is filled out, an in person appointment is scheduled. With all the information filled out online, Benedict said the appointment is fairly quick.
Benedict said his office conducts 600 to 650 investigations a year of questionable residencies of students.
“When we find [a student who is not a resident of the township], we take care [of the matter] as quickly as possible and we go through [Business Administrator Dan Michaud’s] office to see if we can recover tuition as well,” he said.
Benedict said time and time again his office has questioned people on non existing streets and people who have provided their business addresses.
“We say ‘Hey that’s wonderful [that you have a business in town], but that’s not your address, not where you sleep the majority of the school nights, not your physical address’,” he said.
Board member Theresa Ward brought up concerns of P.O. Box addresses, which now have street addresses. Benedict said his office investigates the addresses.
“Some people want to get mail at P.O. Box addresses because they are having trouble getting it at their complex,” he said. “It’s not a problem, but we still investigate. We will knock on your door. Part of the verification system, it automatically identifies anyone else who has that address.”
Benedict said red flags are raised when people are listed with multiple enrollments with multiple children with the similar emergency contacts. He said during an investigation, they will visit the residency unannounced and survey and monitor the area. A notarized affidavit of residency will have to be filled out for proof of residency.
Board President Jerry Shi said for the last three to four years, lines have extended out to the parking lot during the summer months due to the enrollment registration.
“Last year it was a little better because of the online system,” he said. “The online system allows people to enter all the required information. All they need is to bring one or two pieces of additional paperwork when they come in for their scheduled appointment and it gets them in and out much quicker. The annual verification will definitely help filter the kids who do not belong in the school district.”