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School of Choice study session

March 16, 2011 - Brandon Twp.- School board members and district residents will have an open dialogue on schools of choice during a study session planned for 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 29 at the I-TEC Center (adjacent to Brandon Middle School), 609 S. Ortonville Road.

Board President Debbie Schummer made the announcement to a packed room at the March 14 school board meeting. Several audience members used the public comment section to voice their opinion on the district's schools of choice policy, which allows students who live outside the district to attend school here.

Nearly 400 students in Brandon, roughly 12 percent of the entire student body, live outside the district boundaries. Schools of choice brings diversity to the district, as well as nearly $3 million in per-pupil funding. However, opponents say schools of choice students bring larger class sizes, lower test scores, and are a detriment to property values.

"While you're trying to bring kids from out of the district up to speed, what is happening to our kids?" asked Michael Vanden Bossche. "If I wanted my kids exposed to other cultures I would have moved elsewhere. I moved here for the Ortonville culture."

The comment met with applause at the meeting.

Speaking in defense of schools of choice was Geoff Hunter, who said he moved to the district from Shelby Township, where his kids went to a diverse elementary school.

"My kids are blind to cultural differences and I'm proud of that," he said. "Schools of choice brings more money to educate kids. I know schools of choice kids and they are all A kids. They are not a problem with their behavior either."

At the March 29 study session, school principals will be in attendance, as well as the school liaison officer and the coordinator for data and pupil services. McMahon said audience members can ask questions and listen to answers that will address many issues, including how schools are funded and where tax dollars go.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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