How is Schools of Choice Going at Trenton Public Schools?

There are currently 16 students enrolled in Trenton Public Schools from outside districts. Find out how things are going in this schools of choice update.

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.

Student performance

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.

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Amy Bruce-Stevens March 05, 2013 at 01:01 PM
Opened 60 seats and only 22 students (parents) had any interest in filling them. That really says something about the district. I wonder if the school board got the hint...
Ron March 05, 2013 at 04:36 PM
It sounds like a lot of work is going into tracking or singling out these 18 students. Seems a little unfair to me. But the district has to justify the program and without the data on each specific student they can't do that. In the long run is it really worth the additional $126,000 they received? Something to think about.
Ian March 06, 2013 at 12:45 AM
That only 22 people sought to fill the seats is likely limited by the which seats were open. There may have been more interest, but people can only apply if their students are entering kindergarten, first grade, or ninth grade. I personally know of a person unable to apply for that reason. However, this approach IS vital to the board's plan. It does not appear that there is "a lot of work" going into tracking the students other than reporting grades and behavior already recorded for all students. If the program continues at the same rate, then there would be 150 extra students enrolled district wide 12 years from now. With 150 more students, the school would earn more than a million dollars more every year. When it comes down to what is wrong with education in Trenton, I believe it is in our high school. The middle school is phenomenal and has even received special awards for excellence. It has a diversity of classes, innovative and open minded course scheduling, and a focus on bringing the students together through its WEB program. In contrast, the high school is infested with tobacco and weed, some teachers are semi-incompetent, other teachers nonchalantly disregard policy, students are not properly informed of opportunities, some staff have expressed negative views over student sexuality, and the counseling department has been reported as uncooperative with some students trying to explore different classes. It simply is not motivated enough for "educational excellence."
Ron March 06, 2013 at 06:20 AM
Ok Ian, please explain what all of that has to do with SOC. How does adding more students improve education in Trenton? I fail to see your point.
Kgibby March 08, 2013 at 07:56 PM
I agree with Ian on the limited available seats, K, 1 and 9. If you have more than 1 child what are the odds of them entering K, 1 or 9 for the 12/13 School Year? So the 22 students were probably the only child in that household enrolled in School, and if you had a Kindergartner entering the 12/13 school year and you have one more child that will start school in a couple of years, there is no guarantee that there wll be an opening, so what would you do? But, this is the first year, I'm sure it will take some time to establish. I'm not a fan of the SOC open door, I don't mind the limited availability but I think the district should address the other sibilings issue and come up with a solution. In my opinion, there are only 2 quality School Districts Downriver and Trenton is one of them, therefore we shouldn't have a problem attracting quality students and their families to the District.


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