1. Intra- and Inter-District Choice

In 1991, Michigan passed legislation that encouraged school districts to experiment with intra-district school choice options. Intra-district choice allows students to apply to attend other schools within the same school district. Inter-district school choice, which allows students to apply to attend schools in other school districts, was rather limited in Michigan until 1996. In June 1996, Public Act 180, the annual appropriations bill for school aid, authorized inter-district schools of choice within Intermediate School Districts (ISDs), which are political boundaries drawn around a group of districts. School districts within an ISD can make decisions about the extent to which they will participate in the inter-district choice program. According to the Michigan Department of Education, 6,194 students participated in the public schools-of-choice program during the 1996-97 school year, the first year the program was available. In the 1997-98 school year, 10,803 students participated and by the 1998-99 school year, 14,450 students were taking advantage of the program.92

Some parents have also been able to send their children to traditional government schools in other ISDs. This choice, however, requires the permission of the receiving school district superintendent and—if funding is to be released—the permission of the home school district superintendent. If funding is not released, the receiving school district may charge the parents tuition. For example, in the 1998-99 school year, the Bloomfield Hills School District charged 34 students between $8,000 and $10,000 to attend its schools.93