As spring draws closer, so do parents’ decisions about which school district they want to send their child to this fall.
Every school district in Michigan has the opportunity to take part in schools of choice, allowing families to choose what school they would like to attend, and not be restricted to the district where they pay taxes.
Brian Ciloski, a department specialist in State Aid and School Finance, said the program was created so districts have access to more students for funding purposes. If a specific district is declining in enrollment, this allows it to gain students it wouldn’t normally have access to.
Ciloski said there are two schools of choice options for districts. They can either allow students to choose which school to go to within their own district, or to choose any school outside of their district.
Each district’s school board sets its policies, and Ciloski said they can change from year to year.
Gail Gillengerten, administrative assistant for the East Lansing superintendent, said every district will choose a set amount of spots that it wants to make available for each grade level.
If there are more applications than spots, the district holds a lottery, so it is not a“first-come, first-served basis,” said Gillengerten. School of choice students already established within the district will get preference over those who aren’t.
Steven Cook, superintendent of Haslett schools, said his district allows unlimited enrollment in kindergarten, and the spots become more limited as the grade level gets higher.
“If you take them in from third or fourth grade, most of our kids are at least one grade (level) behind … So we do take kids but we are very selective in terms of making sure that it’s the right fit,” Cook said.
Applications are available and due during the summer. More information can be found on school districts’ websites. East Lansing and Haslett have a 15-day period in the beginning of June when parents can apply.