Livonia Public Schools considers expanding Schools of Choice program to …

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The Livonia school board will consider a proposal Monday to expand its Schools of Choice program this fall to general education students from Wayne County and the Clarenceville school district.

Currently, Livonia Public Schools accepts Schools of Choice students only for its academically talented and International Baccalaureate programs.

Under the proposal, LPS would accept 60 students in kindergarten through sixth grades, which would bring an additional $480,000 in per-pupil revenue from the state to the district. There would be no additional costs to the district, as staff would not be added, schools officials said.

LPS Superintendent Randy Liepa said the program would be continued beyond next school year only “if it does not impact the integrity of our existing opportunities for our current students.” The school board would decide annually whether to continue the program.

He said the additional revenue would help ensure existing programs continue for all of the district’s approximate 15,000 students.

School board Vice President Colleen Burton pointed out the district has been losing an average of about 300 students per year, scattered across buildings and grades. “This is replacing just a fraction of what we’re losing by nature of being an aging community,” she said at a committee of the whole meeting this week where the board discussed the proposal.

The district would accept 10 students each in grades kindergarten through fourth, plus five students each in the fifth and sixth grades. If more students apply than the district has spots for, a lottery would be held. Those students, once accepted, would be allowed to remain in the district without having to reapply each year.

Liepa said the district’s enrollment loss mirrors what’s happening in districts across the state. In 1990, there were about 185,000 live births compared with about 110,000 last year, according to SEMCOG (Southeast Michigan Council of Governments) data, he said.

LPS graduates about 1,400 seniors each year, but enrolls just 1,000 kindergartners, Liepa said. “When you have fewer babies born, five years later, you have fewer kindergartners,” he said.

Andrea Oquist, the district’s director of elementary and special programs, said 20 school districts in Wayne County will accept Schools of Choice students next school year. Those districts include, Clarenceville, Wayne-Westland, Redford Union and South Redford, Liepa said.

Currently, LPS enrolls 123 students from outside the district in its ACAT (Alternative Classrooms for the Academically Talented), MCAT (Middle School Alternative Classrooms for the Academically Talented)and IB programs. That number also includes children of LPS staff members, officials said.

The board will meet at 7 p.m. Monday in the board room at 15125 Farmington Road, Livonia.

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