Charter Enrollment Up at Local School

By: A.J. Hilton Email
By: A.J. Hilton Email

El-Shabazz Academy was one of the few remaining charter schools to open their doors Tuesday to celebrate the first day of school. An addition this year for staff-- more students.

"I'm projecting a 15 to 20% increase," said El-Shabazz Academy Chief School Administrator Eugene Cain.

About 290 to 300 kids are attending school this year at the academy. It's the largest enrollment in the school's history.

"The majority of kids enrolling this time, this is their first school experience," said Cain. " We have a lot of first time families that have never been in a Lansing school."

Since Walter French Charter School closed in 2004, not a single student from the school enrolled in El-Shabazz. Sankofa Shule announced in August it would would be shutting down as well. Only six of its students are now at El-Shabazz. But despite the recent closings, charter schools are thriving across the state.

"We're seeing enrollments continuously increasing and long waiting lists statewide," said James Goenner, Director of Charter Schools from Central Michigan University.

CMU has extended El-Shabazz's charter for five years, because of the increase in enrollment and leadership at the school.

"The parents tell us they like the ability to talk to who's in charge, and most of the charter public schools are smaller, and more family friendly and parents have access to the leaders," said Goenner.

Chief Administrator Cain believes parents are the final number in the equation.

"There's no way we can reach kids and teach kids effectively without having our parents involved," said Cain.

So far that access has turned into success.

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