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Open door SOC narrowly OK'd by board



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April 27, 2011 - The Goodrich School Board voted 4-3 to stay with the state's schools of choice program for the 2011-2012 school year.

By opting into the state's schools of choice program, Goodrich joins the Fenton, Genesee, Swartz Creek and Westwood school districts in opening up enrollment to students from other districts, which allows an unlimited influx of students from outside the district.

The decision keeps the window for enrollment open until the end of the first week in September, and will also allow enrollment during the second semester of the school year. The state schools of choice program will not require a release from school administration if the student opts to come to Goodrich. Students can enroll on May 2.

Board Vice-President Tim Zirnhelt, Treasurer Linda Jackson and Trustee Niki Wiederman opposed remaining in the open schools of choice program. Board President Michael Tripp, Secretary Doug Tetmeyer and trustees David Cramer and Jeff Gardner voted to remain in the schools of choice program.

Jackson's no vote was a public statement of her displeasure with schools of choice.

"Schools of choice is not an acceptable means of funding the education in our schools," she said. "At the same time, I knew the bean counters had the votes to pass it. Otherwise I would have had to swallow my ethics and vote yes in order to keep the possibility of the operational dollars that SOC students bring to our district—that means the burden of providing the facilities for SOC students remains with the Goodrich taxpayers."

Tetmeyer did not agree.

"The lights in the buildings cost the same no matter how many kids we have in the district," he said. "The schools of choice students are extra."

Since the 2007-08 school year the number of schools of choice students have almost doubled from 125, or 5.8 percent of the enrollment, to 240 students, about 11.3 percent of the total number of students that attend Goodrich School District.

During the 2010-11 school year, Goodrich had 158 students who reside in 16 other school districts, including 60 from Grand Blanc, 36 from Davison, and 28 from Atherton. Four school districts from outside the county sent 47 students including Brandon with 22; Lapeer, 19; Holly, four; and Clarkston, two. There are 35 children of employees from 13 school districts that attend.

During the 2010-11 school year, a total of 75 new schools of choice students came to Goodrich. A total of 31 schools of choice students left the district.

"Schools of Choice is a difficult issue," said John Fazer, district superintendent. "There are pros and cons for those who oppose it or approve of it. We are very grateful for the support that our community members and taxpayers have continually provided to the school system. We all take such pride in our school system. Unfortunately during these difficult financial times, not only have school of choice students provide some diversity for our student population, they also provide us with $1.7 million in operational revenue, approximately 10 percent of our budget.

As a community we are providing school buildings for students from surrounding district, but in return they are also bringing a revenue stream that assists us in offering the fine programs that we have and all of the students share in, added Fazer.

"We will evaluate the program each spring. There may come a point in time when we do elect to opt out," he said.

The Schools of Choice is a year-to-year and will be reevaluated in the spring of 2012.

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