BY MATT MACKINDER
Clarkston News Staff Writer
At the April 29 Board of Education meeting, a proposal was put forth to expand open enrollment for Young Fives and kindergarten students, starting with the 2019-20 school year.
Under the proposal, presented by Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services John Lucido, the district would accept applications in a to-be-determined window for 10 kindergarten students and 15 Young Fives students. If more than 10 kindergarten and 15 Young Fives applications were received, the students would be accepted on a lottery basis, said Lucido.
All accepted families would be notified in August before the start of school.
The children would remain in the school they start kindergarten, and the district would consider siblings to be accepted as well.
“Right now, we’re working to have a Young Fives classroom in every building,” said Superintendent Shawn Ryan. “In some stages, that takes a couple years to get off the ground. In two years, we’ve been unsuccessful in getting a section of this at North Sashabaw Elementary. For the handful of students that choose that as their home school, word of mouth would hopefully see that program take off over the next several years. That’s a perfect example of providing an opportunity that will support Clarkston kids learning with that extra horsepower.”
“We’re only focusing on next year and this is something we would reevaluate,” added Lucido.
As for accepting siblings of children who have been selected for open enrollment, Ryan said he would be in favor of that.
“My piece on that is 100 percent yes; I’d give preferential treatment for that,” Ryan said. “I think we would have to, and it would be a very wise move. It’s humane, and it’s the right thing to do.”
Lucido added that even if the program does not continue in 2020-21, families that were accepted in 2019-20 will be grandfathered into the program.
“I’ve made no bones about it over the years that schools of choice is not my favorite practice by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve certainly kept an open mind as far as this has been concerned,” said Board Vice President Kelli Horst. “I’m supportive of this, of giving this a shot, but the one thing that still gives me pause is going for it this year but maybe not next year. If we’re going to go, let’s just go. I don’t like the idea of doing it one year and not the next and then thinking in Year 3 we need to do it. It’s either our practice or it’s not. To make it a year-to-year decision doesn’t benefit us, and if true stabilization is our end goal, to me, it’s just our practice. I’d rather just make this our practice.
“If 25 is our magic number and if we need to review from year to year, that’s what we review. That would be my feedback on the matter.”
“That’s precisely how it works; all of our open enrollment programs have to be reviewed each year,” added Ryan. “Like with any program, we’d look at viability. It would be our intent not to do the up-and-back type of thing with this program. Our intent is for it to succeed and to work as we designed it, but to also keep an open mind as we review.”
Lucido said that he anticipates all 25 spots being filled quickly.
“We get a lot of phone calls,” Lucido said. “If this was approved at the May 13 board meeting and we set the window for the month of July, I think we could fill 25 spots just by answering the phone and taking names and numbers. We would be adding a marketing campaign to this, so I would anticipate having to do a lottery. I imagine we’d get more than the 25 spots.”