Contents of this issue:


  • DPS to run Highland Park’s nonteaching services
  • Bad Axe hires consulting firm to boost test scores
  • House bill requires board members physically attend meetings
  • Muskegon Heights deficit plan called unrealistic
  • DPS sees decrease in violent crime

DPS to Run Highland Park’s Nonteaching Services


DETROIT — Detroit Public Schools will operate nonteaching services in the Highland Park school district under an agreement between the districts’ emergency managers, according to The Detroit News. The arrangement ensures Highland Park will be able to make payroll for the rest of the school year.

The News reports that under the agreement, DPS will receive up to $4,000 per pupil in emergency transition funds, which will be dispensed to Highland Park at the request of Emergency Manager Jack Martin. The State had allotted $4 million to ensure the continued education of Highland Park students through the current school year, but stipulated the district could only receive the funds if it was being operated by an outside entity.

According to The News, the agreement will expire on Aug. 31, before the start of the new school year.

SOURCE:

The Detroit News, “Detroit to help run Highland Park schools," March 3, 2012

FURTHER READING:

Michigan Education Report, “State grants emergency $4 million for Highland Park students," Feb. 25, 2012


Bad Axe Hires Consulting Firm to Boost Test Scores


BAD AXE, Mich. — Bad Axe School District has hired Great Lakes Consulting to help increase student proficiency in math and reading, as well as combat teacher ineffectiveness, according to The Huron Daily Tribune. The deal will cost the district $1,000 per week for the rest of the school year.

According to The Tribune, research by Great Lakes found 30 percent of students were declining in reading while 41 percent of students were declining in math. The firm also found 65 percent of the teaching staff to be ineffective based on individual student growth.

The Tribune reports Great Lakes Consulting was able to achieve a “culture change” at a school in Georgia within three years and that school has met state requirements ever since. Great Lakes has also worked with several schools in the Detroit area.

SOURCE:

The Huron Daily Tribune, “School board hires help to tackle test scores,” Feb. 28, 2012

FURTHER READING:

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Context and Performance Database


House Bill Requires Board Members Physically Attend Meetings


LANSING, Mich. — The state House of Representatives has passed a bill that would require all public officials and school board members to be physically present to participate in public meetings, according to the Canton Observer and Eccentric. The bill would ban participation through electronic means such as teleconferencing.

“This is being utilized far more than anyone knows; several dozens, if not hundreds of municipalities, boards of education, commissions and boards are doing this,” Rep. Richard LeBlanc, D-Westland, who introduced the bill, told the Observer and Eccentric. “We need this (law) for transparency and to speak with those who are making decisions on behalf of others.”

Rep. LeBlanc told the Observer and Eccentric he began looking into the issue after learning a member of the Wayne-Westland Community Schools Board had participated in two board meetings and even voted via Skype while on an extended trip out of the country.

The Observer and Eccentric reports the bill received 48 cosponsors from both parties and passed the House 94-11, with all opposing votes coming from Democrats.

SOURCE:

The Canton Observer and Eccentric, “House approves bill requiring officials to physically attend meetings,” March 4, 2012

FURTHER READING:

MichiganVotes.org, “2012 House Bill 5335: Ban local government body “phone-in” voting.”


Muskegon Heights Deficit Plan Called Unrealistic


MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. — The emergency manager review team investigating Muskegon Heights Public Schools was told the district’s deficit reduction plan, which includes a 40 percent wage cut for employees, is not realistic, according to MLive. Glenda Rader, Michigan Department of Education’s deputy director of state aid and school finance, told the review team she had “serious reservations” that the plan could be approved.

According to MLive, the district’s deficit currently stands at about $9.4 million. Under the proposed plan the district would reduce spending by $3.2 million for the next two years and then by $3.5 million the third year with the goal of running a surplus by 2015. Officials running the district said that salary and benefit cuts would be needed since staffing costs make up about 80 percent of the school’s expenses, though they did acknowledge the proposed 40 percent cuts were “unrealistic.”

According to MLive, the district needs to have an approved deficit reduction plan in order to continue receiving state aid. Rader told the review team the district’s progress was unsatisfactory, with last year’s deficit at 48 percent of district revenue, up from 20 percent the previous year.

SOURCE:

MLive.com, “Emergency manager review team told Muskegon Heights school deficit plan unrealistic,” March 2, 2012

FURTHER READING:

Michigan Education Report, “Muskegon Heights privatizes some positions, saves $1.2 million,” Jan. 30, 2012


DPS Sees Decrease in Violent Crime


DETROIT — Detroit Public Schools reported a decrease in the number of violent crimes in district schools, according to The Associated Press. Overall crime was down 13 percent compared to the same period last year.

The AP reports violent crime fell the most, with felony assaults down 43 percent, concealed weapons violations down 45 percent, and armed robberies down 58 percent. District officials credit improved security measures like increased video cameras and alarm systems for the decrease in violence on school grounds.

SOURCE:

The Associated Press, “DPS reports decrease in violent crime,” Feb. 27, 2012

FURTHER READING:

Michigan Education Report, “School districts required to create anti-bullying policy,” Dec. 12, 2011


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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