Contents of this issue:


  • Teacher job bailout now uncertain
  • Budget bills have per-pupil gap
  • Ferris charters virtual school
  • Private schools cope with economy
  • Change in bus service may save $250,000

TEACHER JOB BAILOUT NOW UNCERTAIN


WASHINGTON, D.C. - Despite heavy support from Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Congress may be backing away from a proposal to spend an additional $23 billion in federal funds on teacher jobs, according to The Associated Press.

A plan to add the teacher job money to a war spending bill was set aside Thursday when a House committee meeting on the bill was canceled abruptly, AP said in a report posted at mlive.com.

AP reported that legislators are concerned about deficit spending and about "lukewarm support from the White House."

The Obama administration and Duncan have said the money is needed to save between 100,000 and 300,000 teacher and other school personnel jobs once the federal education stimulus money runs out this year.

But legislators pointed out that the president did not include the money in his proposed budget, and that a White House statement issued Thursday said only that "some emergency funding" was needed, without saying how much.

Educators around the country told AP that the number of actual layoffs that might take place would depend on the economy in their region.

SOURCE:
The Associated Press, "New $23B for teacher subsidies falters in House," May 27, 2010

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Capitol Confidential, "Policy Analyst Reaction: The Teacher Salary Bailout," May 30, 2010


BUDGET BILLS HAVE PER-PUPIL GAP


LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan House and Senate will have to reconcile a $183-per-pupil disagreement over public school funding based on budget bills adopted by each, The Associated Press reported.

The House adopted a 2010-2011 budget bill that gives public schools $65 more per student next year, while the Senate passed a bill that would reduce funding by $118 per student, according to AP.

The Senate version was adopted before the latest revenue estimating conference showed a possible surplus in the school aid fund at the end of the current fiscal year, AP reported in an article posted by mlive.com.

Lawmakers are divided over spending the anticipated surplus, AP reported.

The House bill would give schools an added $65 in the current fiscal year and also maintain it in the year beginning Oct. 1, according to AP. In 2009-2010, schools received a $165-per-pupil funding cut.

"We want to go with some cautious optimism here," said Rep. Terry Brown, D-Pigeon, AP reported.

SOURCE:
The Associated Press, "Michigan Democrats vote to restore schools money," May 26, 2010

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "How School Funding Works: Myths About Michigan's Foundation Allowance," May 12, 2010


FERRIS CHARTERS VIRTUAL SCHOOL


BIG RAPIDS, Mich. - Ferris State University has granted a charter to Connections Academy of Baltimore to operate a K-12 virtual school in Michigan, The Grand Rapids Press reported. The Academy manages 17 cyber schools in 15 states, according to the report.

The school offers 500 courses through individual and group instruction, The Press reported. The program is structured so that students have a learning coach, typically a parent or adult family member, according to The Press, and also work with academy teachers by phone, video or in person.

Michigan parents were allowed to begin enrolling students in the academy on May 30, according to information at the university website.

SOURCES:
The Grand Rapids Press, "Ferris State University approves online charter school," May 26, 2010

Ferris State University, "Ferris Establishes Charter Cyber School with Connections Academy," May 26, 2010

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Online Learning Can Improve Michigan Public Education," April 13, 2010


PRIVATE SCHOOLS COPE WITH ECONOMY


YPSILANTI, Mich. - Fewer children and fewer jobs aren't affecting just the public school system in Michigan. The weak economy has private schools looking for a new business model, too.

Nonpublic schools are generally reliant on tuition as a major funding source, followed by private donations and fundraising.

But since the state economy has put a damper on endowment income and in some cases on private donations, and since raising tuition has diminishing returns, fundraising is becoming more important as well as more sophisticated, school administrators told Michigan Education Report.

While public schools benefitted in the past two years from federal education stimulus funds, few of those dollars trickled down to the private school setting.

"If they sit back and do nothing, then they'll close," Brian Broderick put the case bluntly. Broderick is executive director of the Michigan Association of Nonpublic Schools, an organization that works with its members on marketing and business plans, among other services.

"Urban schools are finding it increasingly difficult to keep the doors open because of the tuition-based model," Broderick said in a telephone interview. Michigan Education Report is published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which also publishes Michigan Education Digest.

Schools are working both to boost enrollment and to raise more money through non-tuition sources, including everything from bake sales to alumni-giving programs to general community outreach.

SOURCE:
Michigan Education Report, "Private schools cope with weak economy," May 26, 2010

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Education Reform in a Fiscal Crisis," March 19, 2010


CHANGE IN BUS SERVICE MAY SAVE $250,000


THREE RIVERS, Mich. - Three Rivers Community Schools expects to save up to $250,000 in the coming year by switching from two daily bus runs — one for older students and one for younger students — to a single run, according to The Kalamazoo Gazette.

Beginning this fall, students of all ages will ride the bus to and from their respective schools together, with designated seating in the front for elementary students, Superintendent Roger Rathburn told The Gazette.

Rathburn said the change is a way to reduce spending "out of the classroom" and pointed out that the price of diesel fuel has tripled in the past 15 years, The Gazette reported.

Rathburn told The Gazette that the district will save money despite buying three new buses and increasing driver pay from $14.20 to $18 an hour. The new bus schedule will impact the number of hours that drivers work each day, which was a factor in the pay increase, Rathburn told The Gazette.

Five other conventional public school districts in St. Joseph County already have single-run bus service, The Gazette reported.

SOURCE:
The Kalamazoo Gazette, "Three Rivers schools going to single bus run, expected to save $250,000," May 30, 2010

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "School Privatization Survey 2009," Dec. 7, 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 med@educationreport.org

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