Rochester to begin limited Schools of Choice

Next semester, Rochester Community Schools will begin admitting a small number of nonresident students in order to receive a bump in state funding.

The board of education voted unanimously Monday to open six slots for out-of-district students who live In Oakland County. Three will be in the ACE alternative high school; the other three will be in the Seat Time Waiver program, which is operated by ACE.

By adding Schools of Choice to its offerings, the district stands to receive an additional $52 per pupil, or $780,000 per year. Under a 2012 amendment to the state School Aid Act, districts can receive incentive funds if they meet at least seven of eight specified best practices. The district already met six of those.

In a memo to the board, interim superintendent Tresa Zumsteg said the law allows districts to choose the grades, schools or programs in which they will accept nonresident students.

The change takes effect with the second semester, which begins Jan. 22. Applications will be accepted beginning Dec. 17 and advertising is expected to begin as soon as next week. Students who have been suspended, expelled or convicted of a felony are not eligible. Schools of Choice students will not receive transportation.

“Schools of Choice is not a policy that we disagree with, it’s just difficult when your schools are full,” Zumsteg said. The decision will be revisited annually. Zumsteg said the decision should be made early in each calendar year.

“We know that many parents start shopping for schools as early as February,” she said. Once admitted, a Schools of Choice student is eligible to remain in Rochester until graduation.

The Seat Time Waiver is an online program overseen by a teacher from ACE. It allows flexibility for students who cannot, for various reasons, attend school on a traditional schedule.

“We have an Olympian who is doing the Seat Time Waiver. She is an equestrian and she lives in Rochester but she travels extensively,” Zumsteg said. “We also have students maybe for medical reasons. … They can do it at their own time, their own pace.”

Assistant superintendent to retire

Rochester’s assistant superintendent for curriculum, Geraldine Moore, will retire Jan. 31. She has spent the last six year of her 35-year career in Rochester.

“She just does an extraordinary job of getting people to work together,” Zumsteg said. “Those skills will definitely be missed.”

“I truly believe in social justice and making sure we meet the needs of every student,” Moore told the board of education Monday. “I know I still have things out there to do in society, to help other children and other school districts, but also to have some fun and keep moving on. … It truly has been the highlight of my career coming here to Rochester.”

Also retiring is the district’s purchasing supervisor, MaryBeth Garcia, who has been with the district for 15 years. Assistant

Michael Zabat is Rochester's newly appointed school trustee.

Superintendent for Business Daniel Romzek credited Garcia with implementing many best practices in the administration of a $20 million budget for goods and services.

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