Letter to the editor: OVUU school choice empowers families, enhances opportunity

This February our Otter Valley Unified Union Board approved the policy for school choice among Sudbury, Whiting, Leicester, Lothrop and Neshobe schools. Under this policy, students in each town get priority to attend their town’s elementary school.
Principals and our superintendent will set the capacity of each school and open up a lottery to fill any remaining spots with interested students from surrounding towns in the District. As a member of the Act 46 Study Committee I felt all along that the potential for school choice was the hallmark of this bill and am very pleased that the board followed through and approved this policy.
By offering families an opportunity to choose among the varying models of elementary education offered in our district we are employing a “bottom up” instead of a “top down” approach to change. The state is not coming in and saying one model is better than another — families are deciding and voting “with their feet.”
Would your child benefit from the diverse offerings of a larger school? Apply to Neshobe or Lothrop. Want a small-school atmosphere? Whiting (PreK-grade 2) or Sudbury (grades 3-6) might be a good fit. And if your child might prefer a hands-on approach to learning Leicester has embraced a “project-based” expeditionary learning curriculum.
School choice reflects the best intentions of Act 46, which was to equalize educational opportunities. Choice is the ultimate equalizer; a way of acknowledging that our local community as a whole can decide which public educational models are the most appealing and successful going forward. I hope that as principals and our superintendent get to work determining the capacity of each school they will do everything in their power to make school choice a success.
This means not overly limiting the capacity of each building, holding open houses and informational events and making it an easy process for families. I hope that families within the OVUU District will take advantage of this policy, one of the first of its kind, and get to know all elementary school options that they now have.
Hannah Sessions

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