Grosse Pointe school board floats tuition option

Louis Aguilar
The Detroit News

The board of education for Grosse Pointe Public Schools is considering breaking long-standing tradition and accepting students who don’t live in one of the five Grosse Pointes and charging them $13,000 tuition.

The five cities that make up the Grosse Pointes are among the most affluent and exclusive public schools in Michigan. For 23 years, Grosse Pointe Public Schools has remained out of the state’s Schools of Choice system, which provides for a school district to accept students from outside the district’s typical boundaries.

But like so many public school districts, Grosse Pointe schools are facing tough economic times and declining enrollment. The district faces $2 million in budget cuts and school enrollment has dropped by 1,000 in the past decade and its expected to continue to fall, the board said during its Monday night meeting.

To boost funding and increase district enrollment, the board agreed to explore a proposal to allow select non-Grosse Pointe students into its schools.

It’s far from a done deal. Tuesday night was only the first reading of the proposal, which means the board will study the idea further with no vote taken at Monday’s meeting. The public will have a chance to express their opinions at future school board meetings.

Many of the eight board members made it clear Monday that the idea was far more exclusive than the state’s Schools of Choice programs that provide enrollment options.

Beyond the $13,000 tuition, students would need a clean school record, with no suspensions or expulsions, and at least a 2.0 grade point average, according to the proposal discussed Monday night.

Board member Cindy Pangborn predicted many Grosse Pointe residents would not like the idea.

“We could actually lose students,” because parents would pull their sons and daughters out of the public schools in protest. Her comment drew applause from the crowd.

But applause also was heard when Trustee Kathleen Abke said the board had a “ethical responsibility” to at least keep debating the idea.

“We need to consider this before we have to cut fifth-grade music,” she said, or make other “painful cuts.”


Twitter: @LouisAguilar_DN