Bay View schools enrollment data suggest task force wasn’t bold enough
November 25, 2008
By Jay Bullock
Believe it or not, the 3,000-some-odd-word story last month on the Bay View Community Schools Task Force and its ultimately mixed results didn’t have room for everything I could have written about.
One interesting nugget from the task force’s work last spring was a report detailing one of the major issues facing Bay View’s schools-enrollment.
Consider Bay View High School, the school perhaps most affected by the outcome of the task force’s work. Its September 2007 enrollment was nearly 1,500 students, but only 100 of those students lived in the attendance area served by the school. This presents any number of challenges, from the cost of busing the other 1,400 students to a disconnection between the school and the neighborhood it is named after.
Fritsche Middle School was in a similar pickle, with only 112 of its 840 students living in its attendance area in 2007.
In fact, only three of the schools represented by the task force drew more than 30 percent of their students from their neighborhoods: Dover, Riley, and Whittier elementary schools-and the latter two are not even in Bay View proper.
Another way to slice the 2007 data showed that just 22 percent of school-age children in Bay View attend Bay View schools, with the rest elsewhere in MPS or a neighboring district. (The data do not count students in private schools on state-funded vouchers through the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program.)
I asked district personnel to provide a new version of that report using September 2008 enrollment data, and they graciously complied. It seems the situation is no different, perhaps even a little worse.
Today, 21 percent of Bay View children attend Bay View schools, with the biggest decline coming at Fritsche. In 2007, 27 percent of students in Fritsche’s attendance area went to the school; this year, that number is just 19 percent.
A key aim of the task force was to consider how best to use the resources in Bay View for Bay View students. However, the raw numbers suggest an unsolvable problem-Bay View students overwhelmingly choose to leave the neighborhood.
In the end, the changes offered by the task force didn’t seem even to try to solve that problem. Its anemic proposals simply involved moving some programs into new spaces and shuttering excess buildings, nothing bold enough to motivate reticent Bay View parents to start sending their children to the neighborhood schools.
Jay Bullock is an English teacher at Bay View High School who blogs at folkbum.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.