Five new charter schools opened in Michigan last year and one closed, according to the Michigan Department of Education’s annual report on charter schools. The state’s 230 charter public schools now serve 5.7 percent of the state’s students. More public school academy students in grades three through eight score proficient on state assessment tests than do their counterparts in their host districts, the report said.
Detroit Public Schools’ fall enrollment dropped to 104,975, about 5,000 fewer students than school officials had projected. The decline means the district now will have to cut about $44 million from its budget, the Detroit Free Press reported. If enrollment drops below 100,000, a provision in state law that prevents Wayne County Community College District from opening charter public schools in the district will no longer apply.
Earnings of $90 million were reported by the Michigan Education Special Services Association in 2007, the third-party administrator that sells health care benefits to a majority of Michigan public schools. MESSA’s end-of-year assets were $359 million, up from $268 million a year ago, according to the Michigan Information & Research Service’s Capitol Capsule. An association spokesman said MESSA will use some of the earnings to lower rates in the coming year. MESSA is affiliated with the Michigan Education Association. A new state law requires public school districts to seek competitive bids for employee health insurance.
A New York state audit says Flint’s controversial former schools superintendent was overpaid more than $44,000 in salary, moving expenses and other reimbursements while leading the Fallsburg Central School District in New York. The district hopes to recover the money from Walter Milton Jr. and other employees the audit identified as overpaid, according to an article in The Flint Journal. Milton was superintendent in Fallsburg for two years before coming to Flint in fall 2005. He left Flint in 2007.
Power House High School in Chicago will open in August as the first in a network of schools patterned after Henry Ford Academy, a public school academy located on the grounds of the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn. The venture is funded by the Ford Motor Co. Fund and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Chicago school will serve 480 students with a curriculum centered on sustainability and alternative energy, according to a Detroit News article.
Teacher absences jump 30 to 40 percent on Fridays and Mondays, according to Professional Education Services Group, a Caledonia company which subcontracts substitute teachers to school districts in 26 West Michigan counties. An article in The Grand Rapids Press said that those are the days when teachers are most likely to call in sick or take a personal day. About 80 percent of all teacher absences are pre-arranged and used for training, parent-teacher conferences or personal business, the article said.
The number of schools offering Advanced Placement courses worldwide dropped by 13 percent in 2006-2007, following the first-ever audit of the program. AP teachers at high schools around the world took part in the audit, which the College Board announced in 2005 amid concerns about whether the program’s rapid growth had diluted its quality, according to an article in Education Week. The audit, still ongoing, included a review of syllabi used in AP courses.
Poor math performance by his own sons prompted Nicholas Aggor, a Detroit-area engineer, to write a series of math textbooks called the Math Masters Series. The Riverview Community School District in Wayne County tested the books with some students who struggled in math and the district’s curriculum committee plans to consider adopting it as a supplement when the full series is published, the Washington Times reported.
The Madison school district’s "no-flunk" policy is under scrutiny by the Madison District Schools Board of Education. A long-standing policy in the district has allowed parents to write a letter instructing administrators to move their child up a grade level despite failing grades. Some officials believe that the policy might be the reason the district failed to meet federal No Child Left Behind Act standards for four years in a row.
A West Ottawa High School teacher facing dismissal for allegedly giving struggling students the answers to biology tests denies the allegations and hopes to continue teaching, The Grand Rapids Press reported. The district’s school board voted 6-1 in early February to dismiss Karl Nadolsky, a 35-year veteran of the district, for improper testing practices. Nadolsky is expected to appeal, according to attorney Phil Iorio. The appeal would be heard by an administrative law judge who presides over tenure cases for the Michigan Department of Education.
The Southfield Board of Education has announced the creation of the Southfield Public Schools University Preparatory High School, at a location still to be selected. The program will focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, with entrance by examination. Southfield also has joined the International Academy Consortium.