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Dexter Schools Adopt Limited School of Choice Option

The district is eligible to receive $180,000 through the Michigan Legislature's "Best Practices" standard.

The Dexter Community Schools Board of Education voted 7-0 to approve a proposal to open Dexter High School as a School of Choice at its meeting on Monday.

The proposal allows the district to apply for additional state funding through the Legislature's "Best Practice" initiative for the 2012-2013 academic year.

Dexter already meets six of the seven best practices, however to receive the funding β€” $52 per student, or roughly $180,000 β€” the district has to meet seven of the requirements.

According to Superintendent Mary Marshall, Dexter would need to either become a School of Choice or meet increased seat time for physical education or health education.

"It puts us in a tough situation," she said before recommending that the board provide enrollment for up to five sophomore students who plan to register as International Baccalaureate diploma candidates in the 2014-2015 school year.

"The purpose of bringing students in 10th grade is to give students the opportunity to assure their course offerings are aligned to meet the Michigan Merit Curriculum requirements and foundational courses needed to be in the full diploma program," Marshall said.

Students who enroll under the School of Choice option would be required to enroll in and complete courses in a pre-International Baccalaureate program and demonstrate progress toward completing the full diploma program in order to remain eligible to remain in Dexter, according to information provided to the Dexter Board of Education.

Board President Larry Cobler said some parents have expressed concern about allowing students from outside the district to enroll at the high school.

"It shouldn't be an issue," he said. "We talk about globalization but at the same time we want to be isolationists, which doesn't make sense.

"From a philosophical standpoint, personally I think Dexter can be the International Baccalaureate School of Choice for the western side of the county. The school boarders need to go away at some point."

Trustee Julie Schumaker said she is leery of allowing students from outside the district enroll in high school classes.

"I support the limited School of Choice recommendation to meet the Best Practices standards. IB is more attractive than enrolling students at the kindergarten level, however I would be cautious about throwing the door wide open. (School of Choice) is certainly warranted in this situation," she said.

Vice President Michael Wendorf said allowing students to enroll in the IB program outside of the district benefits Dexter's short-term and long-term goals.

"We need to promote our school district as viable and vibrant," he said. "By providing more science and math options to more students, we can potentially position Dexter as a district that is known for its calibur of achievement beyond that which we're already known for."

Marshall said even if students do not enroll in the district this year, by offering the School of Choice option, the district will still be eligible for state funds.

Beginning in the 2013-2014 academic year, Marshall is recommending that the School of Choice option continue and remain available for students entering their sophomore year in high school.

Barbara Read November 20, 2012 at 03:51 PM
At the meeting two weeks ago, Mary pointed out that if more than 5 students apply, there will be a lottery to decide who gets in. I hope that the district makes very clear in its SOC invitation that the IB program is very rigorous, and even our bright students are finding themselves working harder than they are used to. We wouldn't want to invite "randomly chosen" area students to Dexter to fail. Would it be possible to look at the level of prior work or use teacher recommendations to admit students to the school of choice program if we get more than 5 applicants? The IB is a tough program and, according to the terms voted on last night, a student who no longer qualifies for the diploma program would have to leave the district. We want to make sure that students admitted will be able to succeed or we aren't doing them any favors.
Jim Vollmers November 20, 2012 at 04:09 PM
It appears that there is a lack of support within the school district to rationalize the implementation of the IB program. So the answer from our school board is to bring in students from other districts to justify their poor decision making. If you want an IB education for your child, there is already a WISD IB program in place that doesn't cost Dexter the hundreds of thousands of dollars that the Dexter School Board ponied up for this extravagant boondoggle. We can meet the criteria for additional state funding via an increase in physical education and health education classes. That makes more sense for our community.
Laura Jones November 20, 2012 at 07:32 PM
The IB program is limited in the students it serves and the cost is disproportionate to that number. The program should be dropped entirely in favor of more physical education time. Mr. Cobler may see opening the school district as globalization, but I think it's a rather poor analogy, and a stretch. We have an accepted mechanism in Michigan for accessing a different school district. We call it "moving". It demands more from support from places for their schools, since the quality of the school is a chief reason people move to a place. This impacts property values district wide. The and the decision to open the high school to IB program non district students is not a wise decision for anyone who actually lives in the district. When one considers the amount of money spent on IB students that will then be shifted to new non district students, it becomes even less of a good idea. Dexter is a good school district and people pay a great deal of money to live here. Families also make sacrifices to be able to send their kids here - it's an investiture in the community that will not be reflected by non district people. The idea that we select this limited benefit for non district residents over the wider physical education benefit for all district students is very misguided. What the board wants to achieve does not seem in line with serving the community over all. I hope they will rethink this poor decision.
Shawn Letwin November 20, 2012 at 10:05 PM
"It puts us in a tough situation," she (Marshall) said before... How? You get $152,000 to let no more than 5 students in; even having none enroll will still get the district $152,000. But that is the point right? When the other option was to expand physical education time for existing Dexter Students and maybe use the $152,000 to cover that cost. Or maybe help cover the cost of the Wellness employee that Dexter Schools will start paying for next year. Or maybe help offset the pay to play increase; let alone charge nothing like Chelsea? Or hire a HS counselor? Or are we subscribing to the "Field of Dreams" business model; build it and they will come as Cobler alluded to " I think Dexter can be the International Baccalaureate School of Choice for the western side of the county". If we are not isolationists, then why didn't Dexter join WISD IB program for those few students who currently participate in Dexter (approx. 20) for much less than what Dexter Schools is paying? And according to Wendorf, "We need to promote our school district as viable and vibrant," he said. "By providing more science and math options to more students, we can potentially position Dexter as a district that is known for its calibur of achievement beyond that which we're already known for." Really? Outside of the district students are the solution to put Dexter in the top 10% in MI, or maybe top 500 schools in the nation? Government gaming its own government to get more money. Wow!

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