by June Kronholz
April 10, 2014
The Riverside Unified School District east of Los Angeles took advantage of a new state law in 2010 and declared itself a District of Choice. The designation meant that children from any other school district could transfer to Riverside without first getting approval from their home districts. Soon after, the district launched a science and technology middle school, a dual-language immersion elementary, an all-digital high school, an arts-centered grade school, a virtual school starting at grade 3, and more. In the first year, 161 students switched to Riverside. In the 2012-13 school year, 395 transferred, and in 2013-14, another 535 arrived. The District of Choice law was meant to encourage districts to compete for students by offering innovative programs and this-school-fits-my-child options. So far, only 31 of California’s 1,000-plus school districts have declared themselves Districts of Choice, but enrollment in Districts of Choice is growing.