DETROIT (AP) — Charter schools and schools of choice account for about half of the 9,300 student loss in the Detroit School District this year.
Charter schools gained 3,400 Detroit students this year, while schools of choice in neighboring districts gained 1,300. Enrollment in the Detroit district dropped 6 percent this year, from 150,000 to 140,700.
“The problem is people don’t have confidence in our schools,” said former Detroit schools Superintendent John Porter. “We have to deal with it.”
This year, 33,983 Detroit children are enrolled in charter schools, up 3,407 from 30,576 last year, The Detroit News said yesterday.
About 30 suburban districts in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties accept Detroit students. This year, they have 6,530 Detroit students, up 1,293 from 5,237 last year.
Michigan guarantees $6,700 per student to state school districts, and the Detroit School District’s enrollment drop means a loss of about $62 million.
The district recently reported a $48 million deficit for last school year and a $150 million deficit for the current one. The district is looking to get legislative approval to sell bonds to prevent it from cutting up to 4,000 jobs and closing schools to balance its budget.
Detroit school officials are not the only ones worried about the problems in the district; leaders in neighboring districts say they must fend off a steady stream of Detroit parents illegally enrolling their children in suburban schools.
In Ferndale, police charged a Detroit mother with two felonies on accusations of lying about where she lived to get her daughter into Ferndale High School. About 750 Detroit children are legitimately enrolled in the district.
Southfield schools are aggressively rooting out nonresidents trying to enroll in the district, said spokesman Ken Siver. He said about 70 students, most from Detroit, have been dropped this year because of residency fraud.
Majority-Republicans in the state Legislature are asking for a review of the Detroit schools’ financial troubles.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema of Wyoming agreed last week to delay by one week introducing a resolution that could eventually lead to the appointment of a manager to oversee the school district’s finances.
“What happens in Detroit affects us all,” said Dearborn schools Superintendent John Artis. “A disaster on our borders … puts us at harm.”