Contents of this issue:


  • East Detroit opens to Wayne County ‘schools of choice’ students
  • Schools can decline ‘pink slime’ beef next year
  • Flanagan receives vote of confidence, contract extension
  • Teacher concessions will save Marysville $950,000
  • Ypsilanti public schools facing $14 million deficit

East Detroit Opens to Wayne County ‘Schools of Choice’ Students


EASTPOINTE, Mich. — The East Detroit Public Schools Board of Education has voted to accept schools of choice applications from Wayne County students, according to The Macomb Daily. The move comes just two weeks after the board had voted to open the district up to schools of choice students from Macomb County.

East Detroit officials had previously opposed accepting schools of choice students because they felt it was unfair for children whose parents did not pay property taxes in the district to attend ED Public Schools, according to The Daily. But shrinking enrollment has helped change minds: East Detroit has seen more than 1,400 students leave the district over the last 4 years, taking $4.2 million in state aid with them. The district is running an $8.4 million deficit for this year and faces an $11.6 million deficit next year, according to the district’s finance manager.

“This is very hard for me but (we) aren’t making it here,” board trustee Paul Seibert told The Daily. “If we don’t do this, the district will not thrive – or even survive.”

Not everyone on the board agreed with Seibert’s assessment. According to The Daily, board member Jon Gruenberg warned that other districts had seen a “second wave of white flight” due to schools of choice.

“We’ve already seen a lot of white students flying out of this district and more black students come in,” Gruenberg told The Daily. “Some people move out because of ‘these kids,’ and I don’t know if that will happen here. Fundamentally, we’re all brothers and sisters in education and we should be looking at bettering all of us.”

SOURCE:

The Macomb Daily, “East Detroit school official warns of 'white flight' after Schools of Choice vote to allow Wayne County students," March 13, 2012

FURTHER READING:

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


Schools Can Decline ‘Pink Slime’ Beef Next Year


JACKSON, Mich. — School food service directors will soon have the option of buying beef that does not contain “pink slime,” according to MLive. A change in U.S. Department of Agriculture rules will allow school districts to buy ground beef with or without the filler next year.

The derisively named filler is made of meat scraps that are heated to remove fat and then treated with ammonium hydroxide gas to kill bacteria. The product meets federal food safety standards and has been on the market for years, but has recently come under attack by activists seeking to ban the substance from school lunches, according to MLive. It is found in nearly 70 percent of ground beef in the U.S., but has been banned by several fast food chains.

SOURCE:

MLive, “Schools can opt out of 'pink slime' beef next year, USDA says,” March 15, 2012

FURTHER READING:

Michigan Education Report, “Few happy with proposed school lunch rules,” April 10, 2011


Flanagan Receives Vote of Confidence, Contract Extension


LANSING, Mich. — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Michael Flanagan has received a vote of confidence and a one-year contract extension from the State Board of Education, according to MLive. His contract now runs through 2015 and his salary will remain where it has been since 2009 at $183,994 per year.

“Happily, we universally as a board laud and note Mike’s leadership, his effective and incredible management here, keeping morale up, and keeping so much effective work going, given a tight budget,” Board President John C. Austin, D-Ann Arbor, told MLive in a press release shortly after the vote.

MLive reports that Flanagan has held his position since 2004. The state superintendent of public instruction is hired by the State Board of Education, a publicly elected body.

SOURCE:

MLive.com, “State Board of Education gives Superintendent Mike Flanagan vote of confidence, contract extension,” March 14, 2012

FURTHER READING:

Michigan Education Report, “State board hires new ed chief,” Aug. 16, 2005


Teacher Concessions Will Save Marysville $950,000


MARYSVILLE, Mich. — A new teachers contract comes with $950,000 of savings next year for Marysville Public Schools, according to The Voice.

Part of the savings comes from delaying a 1 percent raise by a year, The Voice reported. Teachers will instead see their raise take effect during the fourth quarter of the 2013-2014 school year.

The district also found savings by requiring teachers to pay 20 percent of their health care premium. According to The Voice, teachers can choose between two insurance plans, both offered by union-affiliated MESSA. Teachers who select the more expensive plan will have to cover the difference in premiums.

"This speaks volumes, to our teachers' dedication to our community and students,” Superintendent James Cain told The Voice.

SOURCE:

The Voice, “M'ville approves teacher concessions,” March 14, 2012

FURTHER READING:

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Schools Should Fund Learning, Not Insurance Companies,” Jan. 9, 2012


Ypsilanti Public Schools Facing $14 Million Deficit


Ypsilanti, Mich. — Ypsilanti Public Schools could be facing a $14 million deficit next year due to decreasing enrollment, according to The Ypsilanti Courier. The district is projecting a $4.5 million deficit this year even after making mid-year adjustments, and could see its total debt climb to $9.5 million by the end of the year.

“This is a projection based on what we know…and if nothing changed, your deficit would get worse. That’s the bottom line,” Don Sovey, a business consultant, told the Ypsilanti Board of Education, according to The Courier.

The Courier reports Covey suggested the district make proportional cuts across “cost centers,” reducing spending equally across the board.

SOURCES:

The Ypsilanti Courier, “Ypsilanti Public Schools may need to cut $14 million,” March 13, 2012

RELATED READING:

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Five Options for Addressing 'Transition Costs' When Closing the MPSERS Pension Plan,” March 12, 2012


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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