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.