In the coming years, Hopkins Public Schools will have to tackle many complex issues. Patch asked this year’s School Board candidates about how they’d handle some of the major issues facing the district.
Today’s question is:
- What, if anything, should Hopkins Public Schools do to attract students through open enrollment and retain students who live within its boundaries?
I would never be in favor of making marketing a top priority for our District. Our top priority should remain the quality education of all of our students, with our resources tied closely to the classroom. But there is a place in our work for reaching out to families, both within our boundaries and beyond. The reality is, with open enrollment, our neighboring districts are having these conversations, too. And parents are looking to educate themselves on all of their options. Hopkins must be a part of that conversation and we need to make ourselves known as a wonderful option for families, hoping to solidify for them that we are THE district of choice.
Hopkins has no problem attracting students through open enrollment, but when families who live within the district decide to send their students elsewhere, declining enrollment can become a problem. In addition to causing funding uncertainties, this has the potential to erode the community’s investment in the district over time.
There are several things I will do as a school board director to retain students who already live in the district:
- Reach out to new families to introduce them to Hopkins schools. Some progress has already been made on this front, but I would continue this effort and expand it where possible.
- Listen to the concerns of those families that eventually decide to go elsewhere, and willingly address any issues.
- Constantly evaluate the educational opportunities that are available in surrounding districts to ensure that Hopkins remains ahead of the curve.
- Take an “if you build it, they will come” approach. High academic performance and the ability to offer popular programs are often the drivers of open enrollment decisions. These should be the drivers of every decision made by the school board.
I believe that quality educational programming is the best way to attract students and to retain students. The Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) curriculum in the Elementary schools are giving our young learners an early opportunity to be motivated to study in important areas of our curriculum. The introduction of International Baccalaureate programming to our Junior High Schools is an internationally known standard that Hopkins students will achieve. Our Advanced Placement program is very strong, college in the schools gives students an opportunity to challenge their learning at the high school level. At all levels of learning in Hopkins, students can develop multiple language skills to help them communicate better in the world. Hopkins schools are leaders in teaching young people how to use technology to expand and enhance their learning.
We still have work to do to improve the educational advancement of all students. There have been threats to the financial viability of the district by residents who are not committed to see the Hopkins School District be all that it can be. This is a critical time to stay on the path of improving the quality of education for our
students and meeting the challenges to the district's financial strength.
Create a school that institutes Safety, Welcome and Respect policies; continue to provide great curriculum and pursue opportunities to improve public relations and public image of the school district.
That hits the head of the nail. Academic performance is the key. It’s a good indicator on how good the district is doing its job. The district now only serves 78% of its resident children, dramatically down from 92% in 2000. To me, it’s troublesome. The current performance doesn’t meet my expectation. I’d like to change it.
I welcome any family that would seek to use open enrollment to be a part of the Hopkins School District. After all, I feel that's a compliment to our district. I'd also expect any family that open enrolls to be involved and committed to Hopkins Public Schools. I would like to focus more effort on retaining more of our resident families that are not currently enrolled in the Hopkins Public Schools, by trying to implement some of the things they might be looking for in a school. That means taking the time to hear their stories, struggles, hopes and dreams. While I'd like to hope every parent in our district would choose Hopkins Public Schools, I'd like to believe they'd at least be open to the idea and possibility.