Leland switches plan to get out-of-district kids
Leland Public School officials will continue to accept students living outside its district boundaries.
However, it won’t be under the local School of Choice (SOC) policy through the Intermediate School District.
The Board of Education voted unanimously Monday night to adopt Section 105 of the state’s SOC plan rather than continue to participate under the local agreement.
There was little discussion before the decision to go with the state plan.
In April, Suttons Bay’s Board of Education adopted the local SOC plan and went on record stating that it would not release students to school districts that didn’t adhere to the policy.
Suttons Bay no longer provides transportation to its students, instead relying on white buses from the Bay Area Transportation Authority to provide transportation. When running its own transportation system, Suttons Bay officials admitted their buses pass over the district line into Leland — but only by a few hundred yards to the edge of the community of Lake Leelanau.
Last year a Leland bus traveled along Co. Rds. 641 and 633 and as far south as Whispering Hills Subdivision in Bingham Township to pick up students. The district’s southern boundary extends to about O’Brien Road — about six miles north of Whispering Hills.
Suttons Bay school officials said they believe this practice violates the ISD’s policy.
The state’s SOC law, passed in 1996, allows students to attend schools outside the community in which they live. But under the law, participating schools must adopt the state’s “boiler plate” SOC language, adopt another policy formulated by their ISD or opt to not participate at all, meaning they won’t accept or release any students.
Both school districts have agreed to follow the ISD’s four-place policy for the past 16 years. However, the policy has greater significance given cuts in funding for education.
With revenue directly linked to student enrollment for most school districts, student number have never meant as much to schools’ bottom lines. And Leland appears to be gaining ground in this area.
According to ISD figures for the 2010-11 school year, Leland was on the plus side with 131 student coming in and 92 leaving for a benefit of 39 students net.
Suttons Bay has been the biggest loser in the SOC tally for Leelanau County with 79 students leaving the district than enter that year. Of the estimated 150 Suttons Bay students who chose to go elsewhere last year, 82 went to Leland.
The state’s SOC policy is not nearly as flexible as the ISD policy. In order to continue to accept students from outside its boundaries, school officials will be required to advertise enrollment openings twice a year — once before school begins and again at the semester break. The local policy allows participating districts to accept students at any time in the school year. The policy Leland will operate under allows the district to enroll SOC students at the beginning of the school year and at the onset of winter semester.