Many Trenton Patch readers have been vocal about the Trenton Board of Education's recent .
Students from other districts are now allowed to attend Trenton schools for kindergarten and first and ninth grades. The district will accept up to 20 kindergartners, 10 first-graders and 30 ninth-graders.
Since Monday's decision, readers have begun and the Trenton Patch Facebook page. Among the comments were issues regarding overcrowding, discipline, sports and taxes.
, president of the , spoke to Trenton Patch editor Nate Stemen on Wednesday to answer questions and dispel misconceptions about limited open enrollment.
Hawkins, 35, has been a school board member for four years and a officer for more than 10 years. He recently became a handler in the K-9 division.
Here are the questions followed by Hawkins' answers:
What do you say to the people who are concerned that the district will begin accepting children with a history of disciplinary issues?
"That couldn't be more false. Obviously we aren't a full schools of choice (district). I understand people's concerns. The comments are, 'You're going to get other districts' discipline problems.' Anyone with a disciplinary problem, going back two years, will not be allowed in the district. Once they are here, they are subject to the exact same disciplinary standards."
Is there enough room in the schools to take the maximum amount of children (60) from other districts?
"We're not gong to do this to overcrowd the classrooms. If the maximum amount of students come in, that is only 2.2 percent of the entire student population. We already have 30-plus kids from other districts in our schools. They're the children of Trenton teachers.
"Even when we accept these students we are still leaving desks open for students that move to the district. We are not doing this to overcrowd our classrooms."
How do you respond to people upset they are forced to pay the Hold Harmless tax in Trenton, while families from other district don't have to pay this tax?
"I understand that. Each city has their own taxes. Not a lot of cities have the hold harmless. You're (Trenton residents) paying a little extra, but these parents (coming from outside districts) are paying over $1,000 in gas each school year to get their kids to school.
"We cannot increase revenue. This is our only way of increasing revenue."
What do you say to parents worried their children might lose a spot on a sports team next year due to students coming in from other districts?
"We haven't opened it to the tenth, eleventh and twelfth grades for this reason, among others. If they (incoming students) choose to play sports, they will be subject to the same standards. We aren’t recruiting. The main goal of schools of choice is not to enhance our athletic teams.
"It is about education and opportunity. Not athletics."
When you take parents' reactions to the decision into consideration, are you worried current Trenton students may begin to bully or intimidate incoming students from other districts?
"We've preached and practiced anti-bullying. I believe our students are above that, especially at the younger level. What we practice here is tolerance for everyone.
"People move to Trenton for the services that go beyond schools i.e. police, fire, garbage pickup etc. When these people come in I hope they are encouraged to move here. The best way to promote our district is word of mouth."
If you have a question you'd like answered, please ask it in the comment section below and Trenton Patch will try to get it answered for you as soon as possible.
*A previous version of this story said the cost for driving students to Trenton schools from another district was $1,000 per month.