East Detroit opts out of Schools of Choice

By: April Lehmbeck | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published February 2, 2011

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EASTPOINTE — While some school districts turn to Schools of Choice as a means of dealing with concerns about falling enrollment or financial difficulty, the East Detroit Public Schools board gave an emphatic “no way!” to the option during a recent meeting.

The decision, made during a Jan. 20 meeting, is in line with the choice they made last year, despite the fact that the district is still in a tough financial spot and more students means more per-pupil funding from the state. The district is currently in the red, forced to file a deficit reduction plan each year with the state and make progress toward reducing that deficit.

“The vote was 7-0 against Schools of Choice,” Board President Carol Corrie said.

The district hasn’t always been a non-Schools of Choice district. Prior to this school year, the district had a limited policy to open its doors to students in Macomb County who wanted to enroll in the district.

Last February, the school board decided to only allow in-district students to enroll in the schools. At that time, district officials named several reasons they were opting out of the program, including the problem of out-of-district students’ families not having to help fund things like building improvements through bond issues.

The board can change its mind from year to year, but decided to stand firm on its most recent decision on the issue.

“I feel we need to educate East Detroit students,” Board Vice President Craig Wodecki said. “Our citizens support our schools with their votes and their tax dollars, and our kids deserve the best. Over the years, many alumni have been successful due to an East Detroit education. We need to continue that tradition for our students.”

Despite a decision to close the doors of the district to outsiders, officials said the schools are making progress toward reducing the deficit without allowing students from outside the district to enroll.

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