School board votes down second-semester school of choice

By: April Lehmbeck | Advertiser Times | Published December 3, 2014

HARPER WOODS — For years, the Harper Woods School District has looked to attract students through school of choice to keep itself financially healthy, since student population determines a school district’s funding, but enrollment has taken a turn in a positive direction, according to district officials.

At the Nov. 18 Board of Education meeting, the school board voted unanimously to not open a school of choice option for the second semester of this school year.

“(It’s) both an indication of the health of the district and also an indication of the philosophy of the board,” Superintendent Todd Biederwolf said.

“I’d just kind of characterize this as a good-news recommendation overall,” he said.

The district accepted school of choice applications twice for the last school year: before the start of the school year and at the midway point.

Biederwolf said this move by the board demonstrates the district is doing better financially.

“We do have some fiscal stability,” he said. “While certainly enrollment is the lifeblood of the district, nevertheless there isn’t a commanding need, if you will, for us to participate.”

Another reason the board chose not to pursue school of choice at this time is that school of choice would introduce new students to the classrooms who are not acclimated to the classroom routines. That could lead to behavior problems in the classrooms, Biederwolf said.

Not opening up school of choice applications will allow the district to keep class sizes at their current levels, which Biederwolf said are optimal.

Board President Brian Selburn named one more reason that he said was minor but a consideration.

“There is a small cost associated with offering school of choice,” he said. “We do have to advertise it. We have to pay for those ads, and it does take some time from our administrative staff from their other duties.”