March 19, 2014
By Tara Cavanaugh
What does the term ‘Schools of Choice’ mean?
Schools of Choice means that students in Michigan can choose to attend a school in a district they do not reside in. The option, which is codified in Sections 105 and 105c of the State School Aid Act, was established by the Michigan legislature in 1996.
Currently 100,000 Michigan students use SOC to attend a school outside the district in which they live. That’s seven percent of all students in the state.
SOC students’ per-pupil funding from the state goes to the district the student chooses to attend.
How many Schools of Choice seats is AAPS making available for the 2014-15 school year?
AAPS is making 750 SOC seats available. This is an increase from last year, when the district had 140 SOC students. If all open seats are filled for this year, the outcome will be that 1 in 20 students in AAPS will attend from outside attendance boundaries.
What if Schools of Choice receives more applications than available seats?
As of March 19, the district is receiving applications at a brisk rate. The deadline for applications is April 1 at 5 p.m. If more applications are received than slots available, a lottery will be used to determine enrollment, and a wait list will be created for those prospective students who are not selected through the lottery.
Will Schools of Choice increase class sizes?
No. SOC seats are available at AAPS buildings and grade levels where openings currently exist. Once the application window closes on April 1, classroom staffing will be completed based on enrollment numbers that include SOC students.
What are some potential benefits to AAPS?
After years of financial cutbacks, the district is working to increase revenue by attracting more students. The district is creating innovative programs and opening more SOC seats.
The district is implementing a number of initiatives for 2014-2015: opening a new K-8 STEAM school at Northside, introducing an International Baccalaureate program for grades K-12, establishing a Pathways to Success alternative high school campus, offering additional world languages at selected schools, and launching the A2 Virtual+ Academy.
“The prospect of significant revenue generated by additional SOC students is a clear benefit of this move,” AAPS Superintendent Dr. Jeanice Swift shares in her blog. “Following years of difficult reductions in AAPS, a strategic move to both implement innovative programs and to invite more students into our schools provides a more positive pathway to address challenging fiscal issues.”
What are some of the potential benefits to Ann Arbor due to AAPS offering Schools of Choice seats?
As Dr. Swift shares in her blog, Ann Arbor is a well-known destination city, attracting 50,000 commuters who travel here to work every day. “Schools of Choice in Ann Arbor Public Schools creates added quality of life and convenience for those who choose Ann Arbor for work or study; they now have the exciting opportunity to choose AAPS for their children’s schooling as well.”