Board Approves Lower Number Schools of Choice Slots for 2017-18 School Year

Tuesday, April 25, 2017, 8:20 am
Karessa Wheeler

Photo courtesy of East Lansing Public Schools

There will be fewer new Schools of Choice students at East Lansing elementary schools next year but it will come at the cost of two grade sections at Whitehills Elementary.

Acting Superintendent Dori Leyko requested the Board to approve opening up 84 slots for students outside the District for the 2017-18 school year. This is a reduction of eight students from the preliminary request that Leyko presented two weeks ago, reflecting a reduction in expected kindergarten enrollments.

However, Leyko said that the current first grade at Whitehills was divided across three sections and at least three students are not planning to return in the fall. This means either reducing second grade to two sections of 25-26 students, over the classroom limit of 24, or keeping a third section and adding an additional 14 Schools of Choice slots for second grade. A similar scenario is taking place in the third grade at Whitehills.

Leyko recommended reducing the three current sections of third grade to two sections of fourth grade with 31 students per class (class limits are 28). Otherwise, they would also need an additional 14 Schools of Choice students for fourth grade as well.

“My recommendation is to collapse both of them down to two sections in order to maintain the same overall population at the school,” Leyko said.

The decision to reduce class sections would not be made until more solid enrollment numbers are available in August. If numbers increase dramatically, they can reopen Schools of Choice for those grades, or offer current Whitehills students the option of permeable boundary moves to schools which may have fewer second or fourth grade students.

Leyko’s suggestion was approved unanimously by the Board.

“In the event that it does collapse, I want to ensure that we do the best we can to support the kids and teachers as best we can. That’s still a lot of kids in each class,” said Trustee Nichole Martin.

Breakdown of the Schools of Choice openings will be as follows:

  • Kindergarten – 18 slots
  • 1st grade – 12 slots
  • 2nd grade – 12 slots
  • 3rd grade – 15 slots
  • 4th grade – 15 slots
  • 5th grade – 12 slots
  • 6th-12th grades – 0 slots

Siblings of current Schools of Choice students will be given preference for the open slots. Families can apply for an open spot from June 1-15, with a lottery taking place on June 22. Families will be notified by July 1.

This is the lowest number of requested slots in recent times. In 2016, the Board approved 128 slots and in 2015, the Board approved 220 slots and filled 159.

In other action, the Board has scheduled a fifth forum on the upcoming bond election this Thursday April 27 at 7 p.m. in the East Lansing High School auditorium. This forum will include comments from administrators, principals and parents. The proposed $93 million bond will be the subject of a special election on May 2. Learn more about the special bond election here.