Starting this winter, Chippewa Valley Schools will allow nonresident students to transfer into the district through a midyear schools of choice option.
Previously, the district has only allowed students to transfer in the fall through schools of choice. However, with the support of four of the seven school board members, the administration was given the OK to open the district for midyear schools of choice.
“I have my concerns about it, but I think I’d be willing to try it for one year (in order to) understand what impact it had, what problems we saw, what kind of students we got, what the reasons were they came … I would like to understand it better and see what the outcomes were before I felt comfortable with continuing it,” said Denise Aquino, board vice president.
The opening and closing dates for the application window have yet to be decided, but the midyear option will only be open to students in grades 6-11.
While Superintendent Ron Roberts and Community Relations Director Diane Blain anticipate fewer than 30 students will apply midyear, both stressed that this decision will in no way affect the availability of district seats for resident students.
“It’s always been our philosophy to seat residents first and then school of choice,” Blain said. “In fact, the in-district transfer window occurs in April before we start placing schools of choice students. Residents always have preference.”
Although most board members expressed their willingness to test the option for one year, the primary disagreement among members hinged on the type of students expected to take advantage of this opportunity.
While board member Andrew Patzert expressed his belief that most midyear transfers will be athletes, board president George Sobah was more inclined to agree with the concerns of Executive Director of Secondary Education Ed Skiba.
“When people move midyear they’re running away from something,” he said. “Who wants to upset their child’s education midyear? There is no good reason to do that, except for some extenuating circumstances. People want to keep their kids stable.”
When the question of opening to midyear schools of choice was , Blain shared the concerns local districts had reported to the Macomb Intermediate School District, that midyear schools of choice “run the risk of students that are looking to escape discipline problems in another district or academic problems or shortcomings.”
While students can be denied enrollment if discipline problems have been documented for two years prior, Skiba said he still fears opening midyear will be used more by students escaping disciplinary action than for athletes looking to join Chippewa Valley sports.
For Aquino, the athletic argument was insufficient for her to give her full support to midyear schools of choice.
“I feel that sports is a great thing, I really do, but our country, our society has put too much emphasis on sports and not enough on academics and I feel that we’re promoting that and so even though I’m OK with even doing it for a year, I would like data on who’s coming in … because I feel that our emphasis should be to promote academics at our schools and not sports,” Aquino said.
The district will accept applications for midyear transfers during a three-week window in December-January. Specific dates and additional information will be published on the district's website.