Why School of Choice is More Than Just a “Choice”

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Victorianna Beels

Should students be allowed to attend LCN if they live out of district?

Victorianna Beels, Copy Editor

   L’Anse Creuse Public Schools is just a small part of Macomb County, occupying 37 of 571 square miles. School of choice is a great opportunity for students residing in any of the other 21 school districts throughout the county to get their education in L’Anse Creuse.

   School of choice is a widely debated topic each year. Every January, the school board meets to take a vote on whether to continue to offer school of choice or to become an exclusive district for the upcoming school year. L’Anse Creuse Public Schools board member Adam Lipski shares, “What I hear from parents in the community is that school of choice kids always have disciplinary issues, bring down our test scores, so why wouldn’t we want to be like Grosse Pointe and to be exclusive?”

Macomb Intermediate School Districts
The 22 school districts throughout Macomb County.

   When talking about school of choice, it is commonly believed that students who have had previous disciplinary problems are coming into the district and affecting the residential students due to behavioral problems. When reviewing data from previous school years, residential students tend to have disciplinary issues 2.5 times more than school of choice students. This year, the school of choice students were shown to demonstrate better behavior than in years previous.

   School of choice students are often thought of to bring down district-wide test scores. When reviewing and comparing the grade point average (GPA) of school of choice students and residential students, there is practically no difference in GPA showing a .02 difference between the two. This year, school of choice students demonstrated higher GPA’s than in years past. If a family is looking to apply for school of choice in L’Anse Creuse for a better education for their child, why should they not be able to? Lipski says, “Who am I, to tell the parents of a school of choice child that if they want to seek what they believe to be a better education, who am I to tell them no?”

   When considering school of choice, there are many things that are not thought of that prove to be beneficial to the district. Lipski states, “What people don’t realize is that on average it costs  514 dollars per student for transportation. That’s bussing, routes, field trips, that’s everything.” School of choice students do not have access to bus routes as they do not live in the school district. Every day, a parent or guardian is required to drive that student to school, meaning that the 514 dollars to provide transportation to a student can go directly into the general fund to pay for and improve other things district-wide. With the average cost to educate a student being 11,056 dollars a year, the 514 dollars for transportation adds up, creating a 2.6 million dollar profit for the school district from tax dollars for the school of choice students alone. A 2.6 million dollar amount is the difference between laying off a whole department or ending beneficial programs for the students.

   “We (L’Anse Creuse Public Schools) are by far the most stringent school district in Macomb County… On top of that, we are only allowing children from Macomb County,” Lipski stated. In the vote this year to effect the policy for next year, LCPS offers unlimited seats for k-8, and only 20 seats total for grades nine and ten.

   Next January, when the school of choice debate arises once again, two seats on the school board will be voted on before school of choice is reconsidered once again. With two possible new members to the board of education, the vote could result in a drastic change. The current board of education for LCPS had an extremely close decision this year voting 4-3 in favor of school of choice. If in the coming years the school of choice vote was to change, the students already enrolled through school of choice would maintain their attendance, but any future students would be barred from participating.

   When reviewing all the data from previous years, there appears to be no downfall to allowing school of choice students into the district. Lipski said, “It’s not costing us financially, it’s not costing us from the test score perspective, and it’s not costing us from a behavioral, so where is the argument?” 

   As a school of choice student myself, I cannot imagine what it would have been like if I did not continue my education with L’Anse Creuse Public Schools when I moved out of the district. I chose to stay with L’Anse Creuse for the athletic programs and the amazing educational programs such as the Math, Science, Technology (MST) program. Throughout my time attending LCN, I have been impacted by the incredible staff and students, competed in a varsity sport, and maintained good grades. Without school of choice, my entire education experience would have been completely different and I’m thankful that I have been able to attend L’Anse Creuse Public Schools.