Contents of this issue:


  • Online expansion in Grand Rapids
  • Four districts now in regional bus plan
  • DPS will shrink along with city
  • Plan would add 'teacher consultants'
  • 2010 census a civics project in Niles

ONLINE EXPANSION IN GRAND RAPIDS 


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Grand Rapids Public Schools plans to shift to more online instruction by fall, a move that administrators said will benefit students, but that has teachers wondering if their jobs will be cut, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

The district plans to offer traditional classroom instruction, all-online courses and hybrid courses that combine online and face-to-face instruction, The Press reported. In his State of the Schools address, Superintendent Bernard Taylor said the move meets the needs of today's digital learners, according to The Press.

Teachers want evidence that online learning is better than classroom instruction, according to The Press.

"Where's the research on this?" teacher Patricia Wright said, according to The Press. "We think that there isn't any, but GRPS is going to be the pilot."

The district has not said whether or how many teaching positions would be eliminated or reduced due to online courses, The Press reported.

Students who take online instruction could still travel to campus for classes like band or orchestra, the report said.

SOURCES:
The Grand Rapids Press, "Superintendent Bernard Taylor calls for more online instruction in Grand Rapids schools," March 10, 2010

The Grand Rapids Press, "Grand Rapids teachers concerned about layoffs as school district starts online classes," March 18, 2010

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "State to schools: Think outside the classroom," Oct. 2, 2009


FOUR DISTRICTS NOW IN REGIONAL BUS PLAN


PINCKNEY, Mich. - Pinckney Community Schools has become the fourth school district in Livingston County to join a consolidated busing program operated by the Livingston Educational Service Agency, according to the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus.

Pinckney currently contracts with First Student Inc. to provide bus service; drivers who work on Pinckney routes will have the opportunity to apply to LESA, the Press & Argus reported. The district could save an estimated $175,000 through the new contract, according to the report.

The new arrangement will include changing the timing of bus runs to allow more students per bus, the Press & Argus reported.

SOURCE:
Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, "Pinckney OKs consolidation plan for buses," March 20, 2010

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Capitol Confidential, "Cost-Cutting Options Written Out of Kent ISD Contract," March 19, 2010


DPS WILL SHRINK ALONG WITH CITY


DETROIT - Detroit Public Schools will end up with 100 fewer school buildings than it had in 2006 if a new closure plan is carried out, according to The Detroit News.

Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb has recommended closing up to 45 buildings this year, including three high schools, while continuing to operate elementary schools in areas the city has targeted for revitalization.

The district also wants to keep open schools at the edges of its boundaries in an effort to stop the flow of Detroit students to suburban schools, according to The News. Final decisions will be made in April.

The closings would save a projected $31 million for the district, which anticipates overspending its budget by $317 million this year, according to The News.

"I think it's just ridiculous," Laurie Ann Jaime, 36, a parent of five DPS students, told The News. "If one of my kids' schools closes, it will be the third time we've gone through this."

Bobb said the district also expects to reduce its workforce by 2,100 next year, The News reported. The district expects enrollment to decline by more than 30,000 students within five years due to declining birthrate, families leaving the city and competition from other schools, according to The News.

SOURCE:
The Detroit News, "School closure plan dovetails with Detroit's downsizing effort," March 17, 2010

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "Detroit enrollment down by thousands," Feb. 23, 2007


PLAN WOULD ADD 'TEACHER CONSULTANTS'


KENT CITY, Mich. - As Kent City Community Schools considers ways to cut costs, one idea on the table is to hire 'teacher consultants' to supervise students for part of the school week, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

That is only one of several options under consideration, The Press reported, and whether any would be implemented depends on negotiations with the Kent City Education Association. The district, citing higher retirement and likely higher health insurance costs in the coming year, wants to reduce spending by $1.7 million, according to The Press.

If negotiations do not result in sufficient cost savings, the district might lay off 13 teachers and discontinue low- enrollment classes, or offer them online only, The Press reported.

Two plans for saving money by hiring "teacher consultants" or offering volunteer-led programs have been discussed, according to The Press. Each plan would involve using teacher consultants or volunteers to cover teacher planning periods.

The district is expected to discuss the plans further in April. Administrators said the district needs to make final decisions in time to adopt a budget by July 1.

SOURCE:
The Grand Rapids Press, "Kent City schools say they must reach agreement with teachers by June or lay off 13," March 23, 2010

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Teachers and Taxpayers," Feb. 8, 2010


2010 CENSUS A CIVICS PROJECT IN NILES


NILES, Mich. - Sara McLaren is taking a once-in-a-decade opportunity to tie the U.S. Census directly to her civics and social studies curriculum at Niles High School, the Niles Daily Star reported.

Students learn the process of counting the nation's population and the way in which census numbers are used to allocate money to such entities as hospitals and schools, as well as the way in which numbers help determine representation in Congress, according the Daily Star.

The students also have spent time after school on a project to encourage the public to participate, the Star reported. They have taped several public service announcements which aired on radio stations in Lansing and Detroit, and hope to do video public service announcements to be shown at a local theater, the report said.

SOURCE:
Niles Daily Star, "Getting schooled on the 2010 census," March 9, 2010

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Mitten State Waves Goodbye," Dec. 23, 2009


MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (http://www.educationreport.org), an online newspaper published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (http://www.mackinac.org), a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Lorie Shane at
mailto:med@educationreport.org

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