Out-of-county residents can now attend Van Dyke

But district will accept only kindergarten students and their siblings

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published June 29, 2012

 Under the 105c Schools of Choice district policy, Van Dyke Public Schools will now accept out-of-county students into its classrooms. School officials said they will take in only kindergarten students and their siblings. The move is designed to increase enrollment.

Under the 105c Schools of Choice district policy, Van Dyke Public Schools will now accept out-of-county students into its classrooms. School officials said they will take in only kindergarten students and their siblings. The move is designed to increase enrollment.

File photo by Ed Osinski

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WARREN — In an effort to boost enrollment — which will bring in more per-pupil state aid funding — Van Dyke Public Schools will now accept out-of-county students into its classrooms.

At a Board of Education meeting June 25, the school board voted 7-0 to become a 105c Schools of Choice district in which students who reside in counties other than Macomb — including Wayne, Oakland and St. Clair — can attend VDPS.

There is one stipulation, though, as put forth by district officials. Under 105c Schools of Choice policy, the district would accept only kindergarten students and their siblings.

“We’re not just letting a mad rush of people come into the district,” Board Treasurer Steven Nielson said. “Kids must be in kindergarten, so we can have them … for 13 years.”

For several years, the district participated in Schools of Choice, only accepting students from Macomb County. Under Schools of Choice, local school districts are allowed to enroll nonresident students and count them in membership without having to obtain approval from the district of residence.

Now the hope is by opening up to other counties, enrollment will increase in Van Dyke.

At a school board meeting May 21, Superintendent Joe Pius discussed Schools of Choice across county lines with the school board. With Van Dyke cutting staff and programs in order to balance the budget for next year, the superintendent said becoming a 105c Schools of Choice district is a chance to increase revenue.

VDPS has endured a steady decline in enrollment in recent years. With fewer students, the district receives less money in state aid. More students means more per-pupil dollars from the state. Pius said VDPS receives $7,798 in per-pupil funding.

“Our state aid is based on enrollment,” Pius said.

And with less money, staff and programs get cut. “When we lose students, we lose our staff,” Nielson said. “We lose our teachers, our custodians, our secretaries. I’ve seen too many good people that had to be laid off.”

It was a difficult decision to vote in favor of opening up across county lines for some board members, who discussed the matter before voting on it.

“I’m not comfortable with this,” Trustee Eleanor Bates. “I know we need to do this, I guess.”

Student discipline was a concern for Bates.

“We need to get tougher on our behavior problems,” said Bates, adding some of her neighbors send their children to Warren Woods Public Schools and Center Line Public Schools instead of Van Dyke. “(They) said there (is) no discipline in our schools. It’s so disappointing to see what the students are getting away with. I think we have to clamp down on our discipline.”

“I do feel what we’re doing is the proper thing,” Board Secretary Richard Carloni said, inquiring about what “safeguards” will be put in place, so students and staff are safe. At the board table, he said he has heard from staff and students who said they don’t “feel safe in school.”

“Can teachers teach without interruption?” he asked.

Board Vice President Jim Brinkey added he is “not happy with the discipline.”

“If you’ve got a student getting 40 write-ups or 20 write-ups, you’re not getting any teaching done,” he said. “We’re having too many fights and things like that. If (students) don’t want to be here, I don’t want them here.”

As for the student that Brinkey said takes two or three buses and walks a mile to be in school, “That’s the student I want here.”

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