Charting a course

Charter schools throughout the country are seeing an increase in student enrollment.
Krystle Wagner
Nov 30, 2012

That's certainly true at West Michigan Academy of Arts & Academics in Ferrysburg, where student enrollment is at an all-time high. School Director Travis Thomsen said the academy currently has 435 students enrolled in its K-8 curriculum, up by nearly 30 from the last school year.

“We’re definitely testing our space capacity right now," he said.

Based on a recent annual report by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, more than 100 of the country's public school districts have more than 10 percent of area children enrolled in charter schools.

Another highlight in the report is that five Michigan cities — Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Lansing and Traverse City — rank in the top 20 national list of cities for charter school enrollment.

Spring Lake resident Eric Dekett said he decided to enroll his daughter in a charter school after being impressed with his friend’s child, who excelled from the program.

Since making a switch from a public school, Dekett said he’s noticed a difference in his daughter’s reading and math skills. He attributes that to the West Michigan Academy of Arts & Academics' smaller class sizes.

“Teachers have more time to spend with kids,” Dekett said.

But schools need more space and staff as their enrollment grows.

This year, the West Michigan Academy added a first-grade teacher and two classrooms. Thomsen said that is due in part to the increased enrollment and the school's goal of growing "one grade level at a time."

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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