KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Kalamazoo Public Schools had the highest number of graduates last year since the Kalamazoo Promise scholarship program began.
In 2019, 715 students graduated from KPS compared with 454 graduates in 2005, the year before the Promise began.
Johnny Edwards, the director of secondary education, says the program has been a major boost drawing people to the district.
“There’s a notion that people vote with their feet so where they choose to send their children to school is the place where the revenue follows,” Edwards said. “So, with us having stable enrollment and growing enrollment, we’re able to provide more than what many other districts are able to provide.”
He says KPS has also made significant changes to its curriculum and has expanded the variety of courses available to students.
“Some people attribute that growth to simply being from enrollment in the Promise. But when you run the numbers, our growth in our graduation numbers is actually double the rate of growth in our enrollment. It’s remarkable.”
Kristin Marschner is a parent who has three children at King-Westwood Elementary and moved to the district from Texas Township. She attributes a major part of that decision to the Promise.
“My husband and I both have significant student loan debt, so we understand what that feels like and what the other ways to fund college are and none of those were very attractive to us,” Marschner said.
She is also a realtor and has seen many people looking to move into the district.
“I have two clients that I’m working with specifically right now who want Kalamazoo Promise-qualified homes,” Marschner said.
Marschner is encouraged by the graduation numbers and believes the district is heading in the right direction to continue improvements.
“The fact that more kids are graduating I think is phenomenal and really speaks to the quality of the education and the fact that they are able to push through and then actually receive that benefit. It’s no longer a promise. It’s something that’s happening,” Marschner said.
The Kalamazoo Promise covers tuition at colleges and universities and can also be used at trade schools.
For more information on the program, visit the Kalamazoo Promise website.