Westwood Heights schools nearly double enrollment

Westwood Heights schools nearly double enrollment over 7 years
Posted on 10/16/2019
Video of ABC 12 Story: Westwood Heights schools nearly double enrollment over 7 years

MT. MORRIS TOWNSHIP (WJRT) (10/10/19) - School Count Day showed a continuation of an incredible amount of growth in the Westwood Heights School District over the last seven years.

Hamady High School student studies in class. Her district has nearly doubled enrollment since the 2012-2013 school year.

During the 2012-2013 school year, the Westwood Heights School District in Mt. Morris Township had just 854 students, according to the state of Michigan.

Since then, enrollment has shot up.

"The board of education and the administration at the time took a fairly bold step in opening up an alternative high school where the Mt. Morris Alternative used to be," said Superintendent Peter Toal. "That quickly added 400 students and gave us the economies of scale."

Last school year the district had over 1,500 students, according to the latest official round of data. That's up to 1,600 this year, according to numbers from the school district that have not been audited.

Toal, who's been superintendent for two years, said they have more students coming from outside the district.

"We're actually seeing our local community bringing their students back in away from the charter schools. We're seeing students from outside our district wanting to come here," Toal said.

He said over half of the student body is attributed to the School of Choice program.

Senior Dalonah Copeland, like the Westwood Heights School District, is celebrating a turnaround of her own after transferring to Hamady High School from Flint Southwestern Classical Academy.

"They thought I was a bad student because my grades was really bad, but it was because it was no teachers to collect the work that we had, so it was really difficult to tell people I'm really smart," Copeland said.

Count Day, which was Oct. 2, is vital to every Michigan school for state funding. The number of students counted on that day and afterward comprises a significant part of each district's per-pupil funding.

That includes Westwood Heights, where there are four schools.

"You can't always count on the kind of growth we had this year so we're proceeding cautiously but optimistically," Toal said.

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