Clarkston Schools approves elementary open enrollment pilot program

By Megan Kelley
Clarkston News Editor
During its meeting on April 15, the Clarkston Community Schools Board of Education approved a resolution authorizing limited open enrollment for the district’s elementary program for the 2024-2025 school year.
The resolution which allows for a maximum of 75 spots open to out-of-district students within Oakland County for young fives through fifth grade, was approved unanimously.
Because the board previously discussed elementary open enrollment at its meeting on March 11 and approved 25 open enrollment slots between young fives and kindergarten. The new resolution originally added another 50 slots to 25 already approved.
In order to make the open enrollment lottery an easier process, the board voted to reconsider the motion from the March 11 meeting which added 25 slots for young fives and kindergarten and then unanimously voted the motion down.
The board then voted to order administration to fill the 75 slots from young fives to fifth grade on a weighted basis starting with young fives and making their way up. The motion was made by Trustee Steve Hyer and approved unanimously.
Superintendent Dr. Shawn Ryan noted that the program is for only one year and will hopefully give administration some insight on how to better maximize efficiency.
“We believe wholeheartedly that this will not only lower class sizes overall for Clarkston students, help us keep the financial stability we need to keep doing contracts and support systems in the future along with our new strategic plan, but also put Clarkston Schools in a position long term to make sure we have the students to fill the programs that we want to have,” Ryan said.
At the meeting in March, Hyer was against increasing open enrollment through fifth grade, expressing his concern that allowing open enrollment would not add any stability to the district as students would “come and go every year.”
While Hyer was still concerned about creating uncertainty, he noted that he could not guarantee that uncertainty and because a majority of the board seemed in favor of the resolution, he just wanted the resolution to be as good as it can be.
“If we’re going to do it, I think this is the best proposal that we can do and I don’t want to have to say I told you so,” Hyer said.
Hyer also suggested the policy committee consider adding a policy that does not allow open enrollment after fifth grade aside from the specialty programs already in place and adding language that would create a school of choice percentage the district would have to stay within so that decisions on open enrollment going forward would be easier to make.
A majority of board members were vocally supportive of the resolution
“I can support this because, I’ve been here a long time, like Mr. Hyer, and I’ve been here those years where we didn’t support open school enrollment under a perceived perception that we would get a group of parents that weren’t as dedicated to their children’s education, that they would come into the system and leave the system and we would have the coming and going. With a retention rate that we have for school of choice and I also personally know people who are in school of choice, it is a commitment. It is not just an, ‘oh, I’ll just put my kid in school of choice.’ Putting those kids in the car every single morning and getting those kids to school every single day – honestly, I’d like to see what their attendance and tardiness is because I would probably suspect their tardiness is no greater than the boundary line students in our buildings. So, the dedication of these families to bring their students into the district, which are usually are border districts to Clarkston, is committed if not sometimes more committed than other student’s parents,” said board Secretary Cheryl McGinnis.
Love, agreed with Hyer, questioning if a few open enrollment students would be worth it, asking if it was enough “bang for our buck.”
Trustee Jaclyn Sivers reiterated that that is what the pilot program is for, for the district to gather more information to see if it is something worth pursuing as a district.
According to John Lucido, Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services, the district expects to solicit applications for open enrollment from young fives to fifth grade starting May 15 and for 30 days after to June 15, after which the district has two weeks to notify families of their acceptance.

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