Board members expect renovations won’t impact East Lansing school of choice admissions

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With the new Red Cedar Elementary and other school renovations over the next few years, what will happen with school of choice?

East Lansing Board of Education Trustee Nichole Martin said some theories state that the opening of Red Cedar will bring more students from other districts, but that is not her understanding.

Martin said besides Red Cedar, each elementary school will be built to hold 290 students. This is a smaller capacity than they hold now. By time the renovation happens, some current students in elementary school will have moved to the middle schools. This natural progression will limit the spots available in middle and high school in the future.

Martin said the intent of Red Cedar is not to fill up the sixth school with school of choice children.

East Lansing Board of Education Trustee Terah Chambers said she has seen the school of choice process from both a community and board member’s point of view. Chambers said the people in charge of school of choice go classroom by classroom before making a decision of how many students they will let in.

“It literally is ‘Oh! This classroom could accommodate one student, this classroom could accommodate six students’ but … it is very complicated. It’s a hard puzzle to keep fitting, because you don’t have a crystal ball to know how many students are going to come in … or move into the district,” Chambers said.

Board member, Nell Kuhnmuench, said the board decides in the spring whether the district will offer the program and how many slots will be opened and in what grades.

After the details are worked, parents apply for the open slots. If more parents apply than the number of open slots, there is a lottery to decide who gets in. The slots are open for awhile after the lottery in case parents choose another district over East Lansing, opening a spot for the next person in the lottery, she said.

“That’s really what it is; it’s public education, and it’s making public education available in a different manner than it had been in the past,” Kuhnmuench said.

Districts that choose to participate will open schools of choice applications in the spring.

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