Schools of Choice: Ann Arbor opens 25 seats at Skyline High School to boost enrollment
Daniel Brenner | AnnArbor.com file photo
Opening Schools of Choice seats at the secondary level is a first for the Ann Arbor school district. The move was not initially intended to take place for the coming school year, but board members pushed administration to pursue it.
The board members were unanimous that opening Schools of Choice at Skyline could help with the trend of declining enrollment at the school, although it was not part of the administration's original recommendation at Wednesday night's meeting.
The board expressed an interest last March in considering Schools of Choice at the high schools this year. Director of Student Accounting and Research Services Jane Landefeld said because this also was the first year AAPS accepted in-district transfer applications at Huron and Pioneer, school officials wanted more time to monitor the needs and requests of its in-district students before opening any of the high schools up to out-of-boundary freshmen.
Landefeld said enrollment for fall is fluctuating on a daily basis. Twenty-five in-district transfer seats were made available at both Huron and Pioneer. Eight students from Pioneer and 23 from Skyline requested to attend Huron High School. Since the application window closed, all students requesting a transfer to Huron have been enrolled due to some of the first 25 declined.
Landefeld said students often apply to a number of schools, see where they get in and then make their decision about where to enroll.
At Pioneer, there were 50 in-district transfer requests, 25 from both Skyline and Huron. About 14 remain on a waiting list for PHS, Landefeld said.
But Skyline's open enrollment process for freshmen students generated fewer applicants than there were seats available. The exact number of applicants has not yet been made available by the district. Landefeld said Wednesday there were approximately 20 to 30 additional spots that could have been filled if the school had had enough applicants.
Deputy Superintendent for Instruction Alesia Flye said in addition to wanting to monitor the needs of families within the district and to make sure those needs are being addressed first, school officials have some concerns about possibly needing to hire some additional personnel at Huron and Pioneer to accommodate the new in-district transfer students. AAPS currently faces budget reductions of $17 million to $20 million for the 2013-14 school year.
But Trustee Glenn Nelson said if the district opened spots at Skyline — which had a 2012 enrollment of 1,501 students, 100 students fewer than at Huron or Pioneer — and could get 25 additional students at $9,000-plus a piece, then that money could be used to put another teacher or two at Huron or Pioneer.
There were nods of affirmation from around the board table. Landefeld said she believes it would be feasible to get 25 out-of-district students to apply to Skyline, if the board chose to open it up.
Superintendent Patricia Green added she would like to stress, "if staffing implications come to bear, it would be what we were trying to avoid doing."
"So if we are all on the same page as understanding this would be somewhat of an experiment and that's understood then we would go ahead with it," she said.
Incoming ninth-graders who live outside of AAPS boundaries will have from April 8 to May 7 to apply to attend Skyline High School. The application window is the same for the other grade levels.
Seats also were made available in grades K-6: 40 spots are open in kindergarten and first, 10 spots in second through fifth and 50 spots in sixth grade. The seats are open at Abbot, Bryant, Carpenter, Dicken, Eberwhite, Lakewood, Logan, Northside, Pittsfield and Pattengill elementaries, as well as Forsythe, Scarlett and Slauson middle schools, based on enrollment projections and space available.
The 170 seats opened in grades K-6 is the same number and allotment opened for the current year. The district had about 110 students eventually enroll at AAPS through Schools of Choice.
This is AAPS' fourth year of approving Schools of Choice and attempting to bring in more students and more revenue. Each year the district has had more seats available than students applying, but the number of applications is increasing as more people become aware of the opportunity.
The first year, Ann Arbor offered 150 spots for kindergarten, first and sixth grades only and had 72 students enroll. The second year, 170 seats were offered with 95 students eventually enrolling.
Students will be notified if their application for 2013-14 was accepted by no later than May 22.
If the number of non-resident applicants eligible for acceptance is greater than the number of seats available, students who reside in the same household as students enrolled through Schools of Choice in the current 2012-13 academic year will receive first consideration, according to documents prepared by the district. A random draw will be used to determine selection for the remaining spaces. A wait list will be maintained for the remaining applicants until the start of the school year.