Heights Enrollment Increases By Over 300 Since First Day of Classes

Andrew Trzaska | September 17, 2013

Muskegon Heights Public School Academy has gained back over 300 students in the last three weeks, after starting classes in August with less than half of the students it projected.

As of Monday’s charter board meeting, Muskegon Heights Public School Academy had 902 students enrolled across all grade levels, according to Alena Zachery-Ross, Regional Vice President for Mosaica Education, operator of the charter district.

As of August 26th, one week after classes began, the district’s student headcount was only reached 560.  The gain of over 340 students in the three weeks since has been primarily due to the work of the district’s parent liaisons, according to Ross.

Ross said at Monday’s board meeting that they would strive to gain back another 100 students in the next week, which would bring the district’s totals up above 1000. That new total would still be short of the 1,328 students Ross set back in August as the district’s enrollment goal for 2013-2014.

A theme of Monday’s discussion regarding the remaining enrollment gap centered on finding out where several hundred students even ended up instead of being in class. Ross said Mosaica has not received transfer paperwork for many missing students, meaning they are not attending other districts.

“We still see students not attending anywhere,” said Ross. “At this point in Michigan all schools have started, and it’s important that all kids need to be in school. No matter where they are, the key message is they need to be in school, number one, and also they are always welcome here.”

Board president Arthur Scott wondered aloud about these students at the board meeting.

“I don’t know where the other 200 kids might be,” said Scott. “They aren’t transfers. They’re out there somewhere.”

To keep gaining students, Ross said the district would continue to use door hangers, letters, and calls from parent liaisons to track down the remaining students that did not come back to the district.  She also asked parents and students to reach out if there’s some financial or other hardship keeping students from attending.

“We don’t want the barrier of a uniform, of transportation, to be in the way … We will work with them to take that barrier away.”

Ross said that the changes in the district since it was reformed as a charter school have gone beyond enrollment. As an example, she stated that while students in the high school still have verbal fights, “we have not had one physical altercation in our building.”

“This is a change in culture.”

Andrew Trzaska

103.7 “The Beat” – local government beat reporter and political analyst