EASTPOINTE, Mich. — The East Detroit Public Schools Board of Education has voted to accept schools of choice applications from Wayne County students, according to The Macomb Daily. The move comes just two weeks after the board had voted to open the district up to schools of choice students from Macomb County.
East Detroit officials had previously opposed accepting schools of choice students because they felt it was unfair for children whose parents did not pay property taxes in the district to attend ED Public Schools, according to The Daily. But shrinking enrollment has helped change minds: East Detroit has seen more than 1,400 students leave the district over the last 4 years, taking $4.2 million in state aid with them. The district is running an $8.4 million deficit for this year and faces an $11.6 million deficit next year, according to the district’s finance manager.
“This is very hard for me but (we) aren’t making it here,” board trustee Paul Seibert told The Daily. “If we don’t do this, the district will not thrive – or even survive.”
Not everyone on the board agreed with Seibert’s assessment. According to The Daily, board member Jon Gruenberg warned that other districts had seen a “second wave of white flight” due to schools of choice.
“We’ve already seen a lot of white students flying out of this district and more black students come in,” Gruenberg told The Daily. “Some people move out because of ‘these kids,’ and I don’t know if that will happen here. Fundamentally, we’re all brothers and sisters in education and we should be looking at bettering all of us.”
The Macomb Daily, “East Detroit school official warns of 'white flight' after Schools of Choice vote to allow Wayne County students," March 13, 2012
Michigan Education Report, “Schools of choice has led to improved opportunities," Jan. 2, 2012