Enrollment up in many West Michigan districts

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — West Michigan school districts largely reported higher enrollment this fall, with school officials saying the growth reflects an improved housing and jobs market, according to The Grand Rapids Press. Schools of choice also were a factor in some districts, The Press reported.

School officials welcomed the higher numbers in particular because fall enrollment now plays a larger role in calculating state aid. School districts “count” students each fall and winter; previously, the fall numbers accounted for 75 percent of the total, but now they account for 90 percent, according to The Press.

Forest Hills Public Schools gained 85 students, compared to a 97-student decline last fall, The Press reported, and Superintendent Dan Behm credited an improved housing market.

Kentwood, Hudsonville, Zeeland, Holland, Caledonia, Jenison and Byron Center school districts all reported increases, as did most public charter schools in the region, while Wyoming, West Ottawa, Kelloggsville and Grandville saw enrollment decline, according to The Free Press.

Grand Rapids Public Schools’ enrollment also declined, but less than was projected, The Press reported. Preliminary numbers put enrollment at between 18,100 and 18,200, down from 18,536, according to The Press. The district’s new high school completion program, carried out in conjunction with Grand Rapids Community College, added more than 80 students to the district’s enrollment, The Press reported.

Grandville Superintendent Ron Caniff said that cutting back on school choice was one factor in the district’s lower enrollment, while Holland Superintendent Brian Davis said schools-of-choice enrollment there increased by 30 percent from last year, according to The Press.


The Grand Rapids Press, “West Michigan school districts’ student ‘Count Day’ suggests more economic stability,” Oct. 6, 2011


Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Commentary: Research Shows Parental Choice Works,” Sept. 23, 2011