• Title: Response to Molly Greene Haywood Question "How does schools of choice affect Class Sizes?”
  • Author: Michael Conlin
  • Date: 09/14/2016
  • Additional Categories: Recent Essays, ELPS Public Input

Response to Molly Greene Haywood Question "How does schools of choice affect Class Sizes?”

I do not think there is a simple answer for how schools of choice students affect class size. There is a lot of discussion of the “optimal” percentage of schools of choice students for East Lansing, but I think framing the issue in this manner misses the point. Instead, the school of choice policy has to fit into the larger debate of what would allow East Lansing to provide the most classroom resources, while still maintaining neighborhood elementary schools.

Under the current neighborhood schools, or new and improved neighborhood schools, using school of choice to fill in existing classes best fits this goal because:
1. The school of choice students would allow ELPS to manage variation in class sizes at the elementary school level.
2. The school of choice students would allow East Lansing to maintain five elementary schools.

Alternative school of choice policies are unattractive because they would limit classroom resources and threaten neighborhood schools with closing:
· Not participating in the school of choice program would result in significant variation in classroom sizes across grade-school (schools would have relatively large classes in certain grades and relatively small classes in other grades) and ELPS would only be able to support 3 or 4 elementary schools.
· Making capital expenditure decisions to create classroom space for strictly school of choice students, that is, building to accommodate entire classrooms of school of choice students, is not fiscally responsible. The bond proposal of 2012, which I adamantly opposed, included a plan to build classroom space for about 4200 students when resident enrollment had declined to approximately 2650 in 2012. Such a plan was financially irresponsible because it requires large amounts of operating expenses that would increase class sizes, would increase the tax burden on East Lansing residents without increasing the quality of education, and would result in future school closings.

Moving forward with ANY policy on schools of choice, ELPS must have experts construct annual enrollment projections by grade by school in order to determine school of choice slots. Informed enrollment projections are also essential for the bond proposal, which will provide necessary spending on our outdated school buildings. These calculations require specific expertise that several members of our East Lansing community have.

Mike Conlin

[The information in this post is based on my research/analysis and represent my views. They do not necessarily represent the views of MSU.]

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