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Ferndale Schools to Accept Fewer Schools of Choice Students

School board members hope decision will bring resident students back to district.

The Ferndale Schools Board of Education voted unanimously Monday night to reduce the number of new School of Choice students they will enroll in Fall 2013.

The district will accept up to 43 new Schools of Choice students in grades K-3 only, compared to about 80 new students usually accepted each year in grades K-8.

The change will bring the percentage of Schools of Choice students in core K-12 programs to 15 percent, compared to 16.8 percent this school year.

School board president Jim O’Donnell said the decision was made in part to bring Schools of Choice enrollment back to 15 percent, which the school board informally committed to several years ago.

The decision is also in response to feedback from district parents and others who have asked that the district lower Schools of Choice enrollment, and limit it to lower grades as other nearby school districts do.

"We want our constituents to know we are listening and we heard their message," he said. "We want this action to be interpreted as an invitation for families to stay in the Ferndale Schools."

The district projects a total of 350 Schools of Choice students district-wide next year, approximately 15 percent of the core enrollment, which will be 43 new Schools of Choice students in grades K-3 who reside in Oakland County. This compares to 80 students this year in grades K-8.

Though the district will accept 37 fewer new Schools of Choice students - which could mean an approximate $259,000 decline in revenue - O'Donnell said the board hopes that number will be made up by families who live in the district that now choose to enroll their children.

Growing retention rates among current students could also offset the difference, O'Donnell said.

The district will continue to accept siblings of current or newly enrolled Schools of Choice applicants into grades 4-12.

Nancy Kerr-Mueller, secretary of the board, said she wants residents to know they are being represented by their school board. "People like to know that they're being heard," she said.

School board vice president Karen Twomey said she wants people to know there is affordable housing in Ferndale and they are welcome to join in the community.

"My hope is that families will choose to move here and be part of our school community," she said.

University High School and the Digital Learning Center are not included in the figures above.

University High School was approved on Monday night for an unlimited number of students in grades 9 and 10 in and beyond Oakland County, which is a Schools of Choice rule that allows the district to enroll students throughout the next several months until the new school year begins.

The Digital Learning Center was also approved for an unlimited number of students in and out of Oakland County.

The state report showing Schools of Choice enrollment for the prior school year can be found online here. O'Donnell said the numbers found in the state reports include UHS and the DLC.

Cheryl March 20, 2013 at 11:19 AM
I say the parents that don't like the school board's plan, put your children in the Detroit School System !!!
chris March 20, 2013 at 09:49 PM
The board has simply devised a plan for enrolling new SOC students next fall that follows the policies that were put in place by the previous board and supported by the community. Unfortunately, under the last school board SOC numbers rose above the 15% policy. If their fiduciary responsibility would have led them to raise the % and change the policy they should have, not just allow for the rise in numbers and look the other way. In addition, the previous board and administration allowed the number of children in Roosevelt to rise over 100 students since our 4th grader was in kindergarten. Our current school board, looking at the policy, educational achievement, transiency, and the practical space for students at all school, including Roosevelt, the school that bears the brunt of our schools of choice influx each year, decided to embrace the policy in a way that makes sense and caps appropriately the numbers of students enrolled from outside the district. Many have made the claim that our schools are not achieving at acceptable levels of proficiency. I would disagree as even now studies are being done around the state (including the Mackinac Center ((Gagne))) That will shed more light on the inspiring work being done to educate all of our students utilizing best practice interventions for our most at-risk populations. We do stack up!!! By following this policy we will reduce post 3rd grade influx and have a greater ability to educate a more stable population.
Robert Bokram March 25, 2013 at 10:46 PM
We have plenty of facility space to educate more SOC kids and we could use the money that these Oakland cty kids would bring to Ferndale. I fully agree that we are doing great things in the district and the admin has a robust plan for student achievement..... Now we need a plan for expansion of students in the district. I think the board has moved in the wrong direction in this regard.
Brian Smith March 26, 2013 at 02:41 AM
Oakland County kids, North of Woodward Heights or Oakridge are not coming back to Ferndale schools....that train has left the station...there is no attraction or reason... but boy we "sure could use the money"!!! Does it ever end? For what? A hugely bloated staff, infrastructure and legacy costs? Fiduciary responsibility should be far less than educational responsibility, but it isn't.....losing the "schools of choice" $$ widget kids and, eventually, the $$ from UHC will necessitate the re-focus of the mission....but it is far too late.
Adelaide Downing March 26, 2013 at 06:52 PM
just a few months in for the new board and already my worst fears have been confirmed. I am very glad all my kids are either out or almost out of Ferndale schools. Narrow minds is not the environment I would want for them. If all the school of choice kids were coming from Birmingham this would not be an issue.

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