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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.

michael Kuzniar March 19, 2013 at 04:13 AM
I would love to know how the new school board plans on increasing enrollment. Realistically, by simply eliminating these potential students, I don't think people will decide to come back to Ferndale Schools based on this questionable tactic. I hope there is a plan to increase enrollment as next year in addition to these board made deliberate cuts, there already was a projected decrease in enrollment. Families who have left the district are not going to come back to FPS based on this development......
linda jackson March 19, 2013 at 11:17 AM
I think this decision is two fold. One is they have reduced the grade level of incoming SOC students and the other is they are required to keep the numbers at or below 15%, which they have done. It is not a fix everthing solution, but it is an important first step. I think the community understands the financial side of this too. Good job!
Beth D'Anna March 19, 2013 at 11:19 AM
This new process lowering the grade levels of the school of choice students accepted allows for studentsand their familieschoices to become vestedthe in our district. Thank you to the school board for finally listening to the majority of our district.
Ferndale_1986 March 19, 2013 at 11:55 AM
Ferndale schools have become an annex of the Detroit Public School District.
Motown Voice March 19, 2013 at 12:12 PM
If this is their response to the problem at the Digital Tech debacle of a school, it's kinda weak.
Thomas Gagne March 19, 2013 at 12:14 PM
Where did the 16.8% number of SOC students come from? I'm unable to validate that number with anything from mischooldata.org.
Motown Voice March 19, 2013 at 12:14 PM
It's a bit like answering a 3 alarm fire by opening the kitchen tap.
Motown Voice March 19, 2013 at 12:25 PM
They don't. They incorrectly believe that a message of "Please Move Here" will be more calmly recieved than "Please Stop Sneaking Into Our Schools." They should show some guts and start enforcing the rules.
Robin Hanks March 19, 2013 at 01:33 PM
Thank you to the school board for responding to this request from the community. The decision will help support families that decide to join our community and make a commitment to staying in the district from a young age. It will provide stability for students and help with retention of students/families that live in the district. The data show that kids that join our schools at a young age and stay in our schools do well. This is an excellent academic decision.
Jim O'Donnell March 19, 2013 at 03:12 PM
Tom, two things on the 16.8% number. First, it doesn't look like the state website has updated numbers for this school year. Second, this decision focuses on the core K-12 buildings and specifically excludes UHS and DLC from the calculation. If you download the data (when it becomes available), you should be able to disaggregate it. Kevin Deegan-Krause has done this for past data and can provide more details if you contact him. For the 12-13 school year, we had 403 SoC students in our core buildings on January 29, divided by 2,379 students on count day equals 16.9%. The extra 0.1% is the result of using rounded FTE student numbers.
Cheryl March 19, 2013 at 10:34 PM
The school of choice was to be for Oakland Co., students only. The school board and administration have ignored this rule for years and years, for one reason only and that was to bring more money to the district. And what do we have to show for it.. I say we only educate the children that truly belong in the Ferndale school district. We could close some buildings, get our children a better education, and get rid of the useless administrators that have polluted this district for years. And in the mean time save money for the residents. I for one am sick am tired of paying for a school district that is substandard !!!!!!!!!!
Robert Bokram March 20, 2013 at 01:15 AM
The school faces reduced enrollment, with a resulting fiscal crisis which required them to take $1.3 million from the "rainy day fund, and faces prospects for a significant reduction in the 2013/2014 budget (ie ..teacher and admin layoffs). The board has a fiduciary responsibility to maintain or increase schools of choice numbers,not reduce them. (,ps,...Oakland county students, not those "bad" Detroit students), Instead, it has listened to a minority opinion, in an effort to satisfy political promises. Now, we must fine another $258,000, on top of pending budget cuts. Hoping that parents will respond to this change and hoping that parents will move into the district is no plan for student retention/increased enrollment....the board's top priority. Where's the rest of the plan??
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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