In-district transfers, Schools of Choice options coming to Ann Arbor high schools?
Don’t want to attend your home high school?
A lottery system to accept out-of-boundary students has been in place at Skyline since the building opened in 2008. And now, out-of-boundary students will have the option to attend one of Ann Arbor’s original comprehensive high schools, as well.
AnnArbor.com file photo
The board was overwhelmingly in favor of the recommendation, which was presented at Wednesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, and encouraged the administration make it happen.
The spots only would be offered to incoming freshman, as at Skyline and Community high schools.
Skyline traditionally has opened enrollment to 100 freshmen residing outside of the school’s attendance area. If more than 100 students applied, a lottery was held for the available seats.
Community High School’s enrollment is determined entirely by the lottery. In the past two years, the school has offered up 114 spots and each year, the school ended up turning away an additional 250 to 300 students.
Depending on how popular the in-district transfer option is at Huron and Pioneer, the district also would consider opening all three comprehensive high schools, Skyline included, to out-of-district students through Schools of Choice as early as spring 2013, for the 2013-14 academic year.
Jane Landefeld, director of pupil accounting and research services, said the minimum of 25 in-district transfers for Pioneer and Huron took into consideration the number of applications the district typically receives for boundary deviations, as permitted by the state of Michigan and found in Board Policy 5100.
“We don’t really know what we’ll get until we offer it,” Landefeld said. “We’ve never done it before. So we can see what we get and choose to adjust at that time.”
Administrators will need to move forward with a plan quickly for accepting in-district transfers at Huron and Pioneer in order to meet the timelines of the Community and Skyline open enrollment and lottery periods this school year. Then, administrators can recommend Schools of Choice spots based on the number of people interested in the in-district transfers and the remaining capacity, Landefeld said.
Landefeld said Community would not be opened up to Schools of Choice, due to the building already accepting as many students as it can and turning away hundreds more.
She added because Ann Arbor Technological High School and the Roberto Clemente Student Development Center are alternative programs, the district also has the ability to enroll students from outside of AAPS residence boundaries without approving Schools of Choice.
“I have heard from some parents who are very much in favor of doing this,” said Secretary Andy Thomas on opening up the two comprehensive high schools for in-district transfers. “My impression was it was not allowed before for a lot of reasons, one of which was the overcrowding of Huron and Pioneer for many years and then making sure Skyline was populated. But I don’t see any compelling reasons not to allow this anymore.”
Thomas added especially if the district seriously considers eliminating transportation to and from the high schools, as has been discussed in previous budget talks, “offering this additional flexibility could be prudent.”
“My belief is our high schools have always been magnets back from the charter schools and the private schools, I think we should offer it to ninth-graders,” said President Deb Mexicotte.
Mexicotte also said she would like the district to consider whether it starts the process for School of Choice offerings early enough in the year.
The district typically announces its Schools of Choice offerings in March. The past three years, it has not met its targets.
For the 2012-13 academic year, 170 seats were available to children in grades K-6. However, AAPS received 142 applications, resulting in 102 enrollees.
Mexicotte said anecdotally, she has heard from families who have wanted to attend AAPS but were not notified of their acceptance in time and plans had to be made.
Vice President Christine Stead said she also is happy in-district students will have this choice among high schools and added she will be interested to see where the movement is within the district.
With the “any time, any place, any way, any pace” legislation that is currently being discussed in Lansing, board members commented on how expanding options for freshmen is one way AAPS can control choice within its own district.
“The personalized redistricting that could occur down the road, I agree with (Trustee) Stead, I think that will be interesting to see what that will look like. It may be that we’re behind the requests about how people want to move in our district,” Mexicotte said.
She added the district has a great deal of differences among its high schools, in particular Skyline with its magnet program and trimester schedule.
“If we open up our boarders and allow for personalized redistricting, we may find people voting with their feet.”