In discussion last night with the East Lansing Board of Education, Acting Superintendent Dori Leyko indicated that she will be requesting that the Board approve a smaller number of new Schools of Choice slots than in the past.
Leyko did not provide her full recommendation to the Board but apparently gave them “a heads up” that she intends to formally ask for 92 new Schools of Choice slots at the board meeting in two weeks.
Last year, Superintendent Robyne Thompson requested and received 128 slots. In 2015-16, the Board approved 220 slots and filled 159.
Board Trustee Erin Graham, referring to an email from Leyko that has not yet been made public, asked Leyko to explain a reference to an additional section of kindergarten for Marble Elementary. Leyko explained that currently the school has three sections of kindergarten and two sections of grades 1-5. She wishes to allow the incoming kindergarten at Marble to remain three sections, utilizing a room that has been divided into two classrooms in the past but is currently a single classroom. Graham was concerned that it would be a “very tight” fit to have another three-section grade, assuming that the current three sections of kindergarten would become three sections of first grade.
Lekyo emphasized that they are building their projections for the next year and that the numbers are “changing daily.” The administration is in the process of confirming all incoming kindergartners, and it appears that Marble will again require three sections.
She added that the increase in students in Marble is coming from families living within the boundaries of the school, and not from Schools of Choice students from outside the District. Marble currently has the lowest number of Schools of Choice students in the District and none of them are in kindergarten.
Meanwhile, Leyko is considering collapsing the current three sections of first and third grades into two sections at Whitehills Elementary, depending on how many families are planning to return next year. There may not be enough students to adequately fill three sections without adding Schools of Choice slots, she said.
Currently the District has 3,605 students, Leyko said. An additional 92 Schools of Choice students would bring next year’s enrollment to 3604.
Graham said she believes the decrease in requested slots shows that residential enrollment within the District is increasing, which goes against a long state-wide trend of declining enrollments and also may be a good sign for the upcoming bond election. The administration is asking voters to approve a $94 million bond to rebuild five elementary schools and refurbish Red Cedar Elementary as a transition school.
Leyko is expected to make a formal recommendation on how many new Schools of Choice slots it will offer for the 2017-18 school year at the April 24 school board meeting.