Washtenaw school choice quadruples

WASHTENAW COUNTY, Mich. - The number of students who are assigned to one conventional public school district in Washtenaw County but choose to enroll in a different conventional district has quadrupled in the past eight years, according to a report by AnnArbor.com.

Michigan Department of Education data show that about 2,900 students are now enrolled in schools of choice programs, up from 655 in 2002-2003, AnnArbor.com reported. That does not include students who are enrolled in public charter schools; growth in that sector was 238 percent over the same time period, the report said.

Statewide, growth in schools of choice enrollment was 111 percent during those eight years, AnnArbor.com reported.

Washtenaw County education officials told AnnArbor.com that the numbers showcase the increasing competition among conventional public school districts for a smaller pool of students.

"(Education) is becoming a market-driven enterprise," Washtenaw Intermediate School District Superintendent Bill Miller told AnnArbor.com. "And with more competition, combined with a decline in enrollments overall, school districts are having to create a brand for themselves. You have to market your identity."

The bulk of the public school movement was in the Willow Run, Ypsilanti and Lincoln school districts, AnnArbor.com reported.

AnnArbor.com, "Washtenaw County schools see explosion in number of students attending other districts," June 6, 2010

Michigan Education Report, "Advertising for Students: Schools use radio, TV, billboards to lure 'customers,'" May 24, 2007