Trenton Board of Education members voted in favor of making Trenton Public Schools a limited schools of choice district in April 2012 and the district took on 18 students from outside districts to start the 2012-13 school year.
Despite many concerns raised by community members and Trenton-Grosse Ile Patch readers, the schools of choice students have performed much the same as the majority of students living in the district.
Superintendent Rod Wakeham explained the new students' progress, so far, at Monday's Trenton Board of Education meeting.
Number of students
District officials opened 60 seats for schools of choice: 20 seats in kindergarten, 10 seats in first grade and 30 seats in ninth grade. Of the 60 seats, just 22 students showed interest in filling them.
At the start of the 2012-13 school year, six kindergartners, three first graders and nine ninth graders from outside districts began classes at Trenton Public Schools. Of the 18 enrolled at the start of the school year, just 16 remain.
"You don't know until the school year starts, actually, who you are going to get," Wakeham said.
Wakehame said one of the ninth grade students moved back to his or her home district after the first trimester, while a second ninth grader moved to Trenton with his family, thereby, no longer making him a schools of school student.
The remaining schools of choice students performed along district averages in various categories including grade level, grade point average, absences and behaviour referrals.
For example, of the nine ninth grade students, two performed below grade level and seven performed at grade level. These numbers closely match the district average of about 75 percent of students performing at grade level and a large portion of the remaining students performing below grade level.
Just one schools of choice student received a behavior referral--a ninth grader. The student was one of about 200 other students at the high school who have received similar referrals this year.
Two of the ninth grade schools of choice students are two-sport athletes.
The district received about $126,000 in additional revenue after implementing schools of choice. This number is based on an average of about $7,200 per student with a total of 18 schools of choice students enrolled in Trenton Public Schools at the start of the school year.
Will there be schools of choice next year?
Wakeham called schools of choice at Trenton Public Schools a success and plans to continue to look at the results as the school year goes on.
"I think part of the reason why our pilot program has been successful is because the plan that was accepted by the board in instituting schools of choice at the entry level, kindergarten and first grade, and at the ninth grade level," Wakeham said.
"The initial plan was successful and I think we would continue in that direction, provided we have the seats available."
Wakeham said the issue of continuing schools of choice would likely be brought before the board at a board of education meeting sometime in April.