Contents of this issue:


  • Detroit to close some schools, turn others into charters
  • Magnet programs drive increased enrollment in Jackson
  • Bill to expand cyber school choice passes house committee
  • Kalamazoo-area schools shift to full-day kindergarten
  • Governor ties increased school funding to district performance

Detroit to Close Some Schools, Turn Others into Charters


DETROIT — Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Roy Roberts has announced plans to close 16 buildings after this school year and offer four more to charter operators, according to The Detroit News. Roberts hopes closing under-utilized buildings will allow the district to direct resources and provide higher-quality facilities overall.

Roberts told The News the move would not require any teacher layoffs. He also claimed it would save the district $7.56 million, even before selling schools to organizers of charter public schools.

According to The News, DPS currently has enough capacity to serve more than 110,000 students, though enrollment this year is below 70,000. The district has lost more than 100,000 students in the last decade and pays $1 million annually to maintain 125 closed buildings.

SOURCE:

The Detroit news, “DPS to close 16 schools, offer 4 others for charters," Feb. 9, 2012

FURTHER READING:

Michigan Education Report, “Detroit Public Schools shows first surplus in four years,” Dec. 6, 2011


Magnet Programs Drive Increased Enrollment in Jackson


JACKSON, Mich. — Jackson Public Schools saw enrollment gains after February’s count day, according to The Jackson Citizen Patriot. JPS reported an additional 117 students compared to last year’s head count, the largest rise in the nine years the state has tracked such data.

This is the third year in a row JPS has seen enrollment increase during the February count. According to The Citizen Patriot, Superintendent Dan Evans credits JPS’ magnet programs, like the fine arts program at Cascade Elementary and the International Baccalaureate curriculum at Sharp Park Academy.

The Citizen Patriot reports that count day can have big implications for a district’s finances. For JPS, each additional student means another $7,000 in state aid for the district.

SOURCE:

The Jackson Citizen Patriot, “Jackson Public, Western and Northwest are among area schools seeing enrollment gains,” Feb. 8, 2012

FURTHER READING:

Michigan Education Report, “Schools of choice has led to improved opportunities,” Jan. 2, 2012


Bill to Expand Cyber School Choice Passes House Committee


LANSING, Mich. — The House Education Committee has approved a bill that will raise the cap on cyber charter public schools, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The Free Press reports the House bill would raise the current cap on cyber charter public schools from two to 15 until the end of 2013 and then 30 after that. Statewide enrollment in cyber charter public schools would be capped at half that of the largest traditional public school district in the state. According to The Free Press, a similar bill that passed the Senate in October did not contain these types of restrictions.

SOURCE:

The Detroit Free Press, “House education panel OKs bid to expand cyber charter schools,” Feb. 8, 2012

FURTHER READING:

Michigan Capitol Confidential, “'We Found a Place Where Our Children's Safety Would Never Be An Issue',” Jan. 27, 2012


Kalamazoo-Area Schools Shift to Full-Day Kindergarten


PORTAGE, Mich. — The four remaining Kalamazoo-area schools with half-day kindergarten programs will switch to full-day programs due to likely changes in state aid, according to M-Live.

Under current law, schools receive $6,846 from the state for each kindergartener whether they are half- or full-day students. Lawmakers have discussed changing the funding equation so that half-day programs only receive half of the foundation allowance. According to M-Live, the altered funding formula is expected to be adopted this year and the remaining Kalamazoo-area schools with half-day kindergarten are changing their programs in anticipation of the move.

The change wouldn’t mandate schools go to full-day kindergarten, but the move makes financial sense for most districts. For example, M-Live reports that adopting full-day kindergarten will cost Portage $1.1 million, but that amount is less than the $2.7 million in state aid the district would lose should the rule change and the district did not adopt full-day kindergarten.

SOURCE:

M-Live, “Likelihood of funding change spells full-day kindergarten for Portage, Mattawan and other school districts,” Feb. 11, 2012

FURTHER READING:

Michigan Education Report, “Plan Would Reduce Funding for Half-Day Kindergarten,” April 26, 2011


Governor Ties Increased School Funding to District Performance


LANSING, Mich. — In his annual budget proposal, Gov. Rick Snyder announced a plan to tie increases in school funding to student performance, according to The Associated Press. Districts will be able to compete for $70 million in extra state funding by showing a year’s worth of improvement in reading or math or by maintaining above-average performance in several subjects over four years.

The AP reports critics are concerned the program does not go far enough.

"We have not combined accountability reforms with sufficient resources to empower great teaching, and turbocharge our colleges and universities as engines of opportunity," said John Austin, a Democratic member of the State Board of Education.

But Gov. Snyder told The AP that funds should not be doled out simply because people ask for them.

"This year we had a surplus, so we had a lot of requests for funding," he told The AP. "But good budgeting isn't about taking that surplus and giving everyone a little bit more money ... (it's about) rewarding success and results."

SOURCE:

The Associated Press, “Mich. governor ties extra school cash to learning,” Feb. 9, 2012

FURTHER READING:

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “The Unstable Funding Myth,” June 24, 2010


MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report, an online newspaper published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Kyle Jackson at mailto:med@educationreport.org

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