GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – An increase in parental choice could mean 400 to 600 students assigned to Grand Rapids Public Schools will instead be attending a school chosen by their parents next year, according to MLive.

The projected change is largely due to two new charter public schools opening in Grand Rapids, The Press reported. The Grand Rapids Ellington Academy of Arts and Technology will integrate the fine and performing arts throughout the curriculum, while 650 students now assigned to GRPS live within one mile of the district’s former Oakdale Elementary building where River City Scholars Charter Academy will operate.

MLive reports Grand Rapids Public Schools currently has about 18,000 students, down from 25,663 in 2001. The district plans on introducing more theme schools and other public-private partnerships to stymie the student exodus. Officials hope by offering a greater variety of educational experiences the district will be able to better retain and attract students.

SOURCE: MLive, “Grand Rapids schools projecting a 400 to 600 decline in enrollment next year,” May 7, 2012

FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Report, “Grand Rapids charter school to focus on fine, performing arts,” May 7, 2012