Contents of this issue:


  • Latest DPS reform hinges on principals
  • Godfrey-Lee gets $2.5M in improvement grants
  • Holly Academy making room for more students
  • Stimulus funds buffered Allegan budget
  • School for pregnant teens to stay open - as charter
  • Meridian considers joining New Tech Network
  • Correction

Latest DPS reform hinges on principals


DETROIT — Gov. Rick Snyder wants to remove the worst-performing schools in Detroit from district control and put them into an “Education Achievement System,” media reports said.

School principals would have expanded powers in the new system, including making hiring and firing decisions, and would have to spend 95 percent of all funding “in the classroom,” The Detroit News reported. Principals and teachers would make operational decisions, according to the Free Press.

Thirty-nine schools will be carved out from DPS and join the new system as of 2012-2013; eventually the system will expand to include all low-performing schools statewide, the Free Press reported.

In related news, Snyder and DPS Emergency Manager Roy Roberts said they are working to secure enough financial support from foundations, philanthropic and business groups to provide two years of college tuition or vocational training to all DPS graduates, The News reported. Those entities, as well as Eastern Michigan University, are expected to provide the system with educational expertise as well, media reported.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the Obama administration supports the plan, according to the Free Press. Some parts of the proposal would require legislative approval, the Free Press reported.

Michigan legislators already passed an education reform package in 2009 that required low-achieving schools to implement turnaround plans or else be subject to state takeover, The News reported.

SOURCES:
The Detroit News, “DPS reform plan includes more money for classrooms - power for principals,” June 20, 2011

Detroit Free Press, “Sweeping reform plan empowers principals, teachers in low-performing Michigan schools,” June 20, 2011

FURTHER READING:
ackinac Center for Public Policy, “Center Study Compares Financial Data for Michigan’s Urban, Suburban, Town and Rural School Districts,” May 31, 2011

 


Godfrey-Lee Gets $2.5M in Improvement Grants


WYOMING, Mich. — Godfrey-Lee Public Schools will receive two additional federal grants on top of an earlier School Improvement Grant, putting the total at more than $2.5 million, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

The newest grants are intended to improve math skills and the “culture and climate” at Lee High School, Superintendent David Britten told The Press.

The high school was among 92 earmarked by the state in 2010 as “low-achieving” due to poor test scores, The Press reported. The grant funds are allocated over three years; the district began using funds this year to improve student literacy, according to the Press.

A majority of the school’s students come from limited English-speaking households, the Press reported.

Another program funded through the grants will be this summer’s two-week Algebra Camp, in which incoming ninth-graders will get a head start on the fall coursework, according to The Press. Some students enter high school already behind on math skills, Britten told The Press.

SOURCE:
The Grand Rapids Press, “Godfrey-Lee schools awarded $625,000 more in federal funds,” June 14, 2011

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Digest, “Low-performers eligible for grants,” June 15, 2010


Holly Academy Making Room for More Students


HOLLY TOWNSHIP, Mich. — A major expansion will allow Holly Academy to add 100 more students to its roster, The Flint Journal reported. Officials at the K-8 public charter school said the new wing will be open for the 2012-2013 school year, according to the report.

Fall enrollment stands at 849, with 39 students on a waiting list, Director Julie Kildee told The Journal. The academy recently was reauthorized as a School of Excellence by the Michigan Department of Education based on standardized test scores, according to a separate report in the Tri-County Times.

“We’re thrilled. This has been our dream for many years and we’ve worked really hard to grow our enrollment, our academic programs so we could see this day,” Kildee told the Journal.

In all, the expansion will create space for four new classrooms, The Journal reported.

SOURCES:
The Flint Journal, “Holly Academy breaks ground on 15,000-square-foot addition to make room for growing enrollment,” June 15, 2011

Tri-County Times, “Holly Academy receives distinguished award from Michigan Department of Education,” June 12, 2011

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Charter school demand continues to rise,” Feb. 8, 2010


Stimulus Funds Buffered Allegan Budget


ALLEGAN, Mich. — Federal stimulus money worked to buffer the Allegan Public Schools budget in the past year, The Allegan County News reported, helping to create a fund balance that will pay for a projected $900,000 gap between spending and revenue in 2011-2012.

The general fund balance is projected to be $3.1 million as of the close of this fiscal year and $2.2 million the following year, business manager Amy Christman told school board members at a recent meeting, The News reported.

Spending increases next year include $475,000 more in retirement benefit costs, a $280,000 increase in health insurance, a 1 percent pay raise for employees as well as “step” increases for teachers, and about $160,000 to shift to all-day kindergarten, The News reported.

The district estimates it will save $322,000 through an early retirement incentive program; it also has reduced spending on supplies, athletics, maintenance and technology, according to The News.

SOURCE:
The Allegan County News, “School deficit reaches $900K,” June 15, 2011

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Capitol Con fidential, “Politicians May Prop Up - But Not Reform - ‘One of the Best Public Pensions Around,’” May 20, 2011


School for Pregnant Teens to Stay Open — as Charter


DETROIT — A high school for pregnant teens and teen-age parents in Detroit will remain open, but as a public charter school rather than a Detroit Public Schools operation, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Catherine Ferguson Academy will keep its name and location, but will become part of the Blanche Kelso Bruce Academy network, a charter school operation run by Detroit-based Evans Solutions, the Free Press reported.

Catherine Ferguson supporters had protested the planned closure and gained national publicity for weeks, according to the Free Press. In related news, two DPS alternative schools for students who have been expelled will be closed, and those students now will be transferred to one of the eight campuses in the Blanche Kelso Bruce network, the Free Press reported.

School officials said that G. Asenath Andrews will remain as principal of Catherine Ferguson Academy and will have more authority over the school budget and hiring once the school is a charter operation, the Free Press reported. DPS said it needed to close the schools because of expenses, according to the report.

SOURCE:
Detroit Free Press, “Protestors cheer final-hour reprieve of Catherine Ferguson Academy for pregnant and parenting teens,” June 17, 2011

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Revenues and Spending of Michigan’s Urban, Suburban, Town and Rural School Districts,” May 31, 2011


Meridian considers joining New Tech Network


SANFORD, Mich. — Meridian Public Schools is considering joining the New Tech Network and implementing a project-based approach to high school that is heavy on technology, according to the Midland Daily News.

Meridian High School would join six other Michigan schools in the California-based network, which emphasizes science, technology, engineering and math education, the Daily News reported.

Becoming a New Tech school requires a $450,000 franchise fee, paid over four years, as well as the cost to purchase any needed technology or make facility improvements, according to the Daily News. There also is a one-year training requirement.

Retiring Superintendent Doug Fillmore told school board members at a recent meeting that the nearby Dow Chemical Co., and other local businesses and organizations may offer support, the Daily News reported.

Staffing issues, potential loss of students and potential opposition to the new approach all would have to be weighed as well, according to the Daily News.

"We have an opportunity to be a leader and to create our niche," trustee Joe Lawson said.

SOURCE:
Midland Daily News, “Focus on technology: Meridian board considers revamping education philosophy,” June 14, 2011

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, “Project ReImagine Taking Shape in N.I.C.E: Online and project-based learning key elements,” July 16, 2010


Correction


An item in the June 14 edition of Michigan Education Digest should have said that a study examining the potential savings from sharing noninstructional services among members of the Ingham Intermediate School District would be $9.3 to $13.9 million. The figures were incorrect in the source article, which has since been updated.


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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