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Unlimited SOC students in all grades first trimester



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May 11, 2011 - Brandon Twp.- The district will continue to accept unlimited numbers of schools of choice students in every grade for the first trimester.

The school board approved three changes to the schools of choice guidelines during their May 9 meeting— a yearly review of the program after the September count; academic assessments for each new student; and no admission of SOC students for the second and third trimesters.

Not accepting SOC students in the second and third trimesters will mean a loss of about $131,000 in revenue, said Superintendent Lorrie McMahon, based on the 19 SOC students that were accepted in the 2010-11 school year in those trimesters.

A fourth recommendation, to eliminate acceptance of SOC students in 10th, 11th and 12 grades, failed due to concern that six students who currently reside here and may be moving out of the district, but want to continue to attend school here as SOC students, would not be able to under the new rule.

"This would have a significant impact on some current students," said Board Trustee Leanne Schmidt. "Schools of choice students are ours as long as they choose to be here, but some of our residents have to move and this would impact them."

A decision to not accept any new SOC students in the 10th, 11th and 12th grades would have meant a loss of $110,000 in revenue, in addition to the $130,000 lost from not accepting new SOC registrations in the latter trimesters. This school year, the district accepted six new SOC sophomores, five new juniors, and three seniors.

With the exception of students with behavioral problems, the board can not legally choose which SOC students to accept and which to deny. A motion to accept four schools of choice students in 10th grade, four in 11th and four in 12th and select them in a random lottery system failed.

McMahon called the decision to continue to accept schools of choice students at the high school "wise."

"It will enable our resident students to stay in their home school and reduces the impact of the financial reduction," she said. "If the recommendation had gone through, we would have lost $240,000 (total). I think the other changes are OK. We will see a reduction in the numbers of SOC students from the change in not accepting students during the second and third trimesters. SOC has opened in districts all around us and I believe we'll lose SOC students to other districts that may be closer to students' homes."

The Brandon district currently has 392 schools of choice students.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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