MUSKEGON HEIGHTS (WZZM) - As thousands of West Michigan students head back to school Tuesday morning, the day will mark a new beginning in Muskegon Heights. The public schools district was replaced over the summer with a charter system, Muskegon Heights Public School Academy managed by the Georgia-based company, Mosaica.
"Parents will see a more rigorous curriculum. They will be expected to be involved. We really encourage parent engagement so they will be solicited. We will be coming out to the homes. They will see a lot of the community outreach. They will see personalized student achievement plans. So every child will have a personal plan based on their academic knowledge they will see what we are doing to help them progress. There is a lot of parent and community involvement in our program," said Alena Zachery-Ross, Regional Vice President of Mosaica and Muskegon Heights Public Schools Academy.
Zachery-Ross says while there are a lot changes this year... In many ways, Tuesday will be just like any first day of school. Over the past few weeks the school system has been working feverishly to get students enrolled for class. Every student in the district had to enroll or re-enroll for the charter.
"I believe we will be at 1,000. i believe as the school year continues we will hit our goal of 1,200 and hoping even next year we will be at 1,500," she said. "Last year there were about 1,300 students in the district. Students that don't return will go to area schools."
Students who are planning to attend the charter school and have already enrolled were assigned classrooms and teachers prior to the start of the school year. Those who plan to attend and have yet to resister need to do so quickly.
"For those who are re-enrolling we have a process at each building in which they will go into the media center. There will be people to help so we can have those persons out of line an into class. We want students in class every day all day beginning September 4th," said Zachery-Ross. "In the classroom we are starting off day one doing the welcome, making sure that the teachers are really finding out who the students are and the students are finding out who each teacher is. We have a full day that is compact and we want the students to be in there day one."
All of the former teachers were let go and had to re-apply for their jobs as well. Zachery-Ross says about 1/3 or less are returning. So there will be a lot of new faces Tuesday.
There are new dress codes, including uniforms required for grades k-8. Also, the new school year is a few weeks longer, now 192 days.