Westerville Schools Losing Students To Charter, Private Schools - NBC4: Columbus, Ohio News, Weather, and Sports (WCMH-TV)

Westerville Schools Losing Students To Charter, Private Schools

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Some local schools are seeing a drop in students – not because families are moving. They're just moving kids out of the district.

In many cases, parents are deciding to place their children in charter schools. Now, school districts are trying to find ways to bring those students back, and keep the ones they have.

After the failure of a levy in 2011, Westerville has seen a steady decline in student enrollment.

Budget cuts have hit the district hard. Two of the district's four Magnet schools are already closed, and the remaining two schools are closing gradually. Factor in the redistricting of students, and parents are finding alternatives.

"Some parents wanted to choose and to have a choice how they might best educate their kids, and so when they didn't have that choice, they seek other opportunities outside of our district," said Cindy Crowe, of Westerville City Schools board of education.

Elizabeth Krile and her family moved to Westerville because the district offered the Magnet school programs. She said the teachers were good, but she felt her kids were not getting the education they needed.

"Not only were they cutting the Magnet school program, they were shortening the school day and they were going to limit the school offers in middle and high school, and that was just unacceptable for us," Krile said.

Both of her kids are now in private school.

Charter schools like Cornerstone Academy have seen an increase in student enrollment. They currently have 123 Westerville students.

Principal Natalee Long said parents tell them they like the smaller class size.

"We also have a goal program that is geared toward students that are high achieving, similar to a gifted program. So we are always putting students in a position where they are challenged," Long said.

To keep students in the district, Westerville City Schools are planning to get input from parents and look at ways to improve the curriculum.

"Individualize teaching and that sounds easier said than done, but I think that we can do that, building communication skills, building creative thinking skills, technology," Crowe said.

Crowe said district officials will not be rushing to put the ideas in place, and that they are looking at having changes made by January 2014.

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