MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST
Volume IV, No. 4
January 29, 2002

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Contents of this issue:
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* Metro Detroit schools face budget cuts
* Gubernatorial candidate Posthumus says "Vouchers are dead"
* Inaccurate reporting from schools may cost state $300 million
* Ritalin debate continues
* Districts offer open enrollment to lure students, extra funding
* Charter schools ordered to do criminal background checks
* Home schoolers seek access to school clubs, extracurricular activities
* Notice: New Michigan Education Report web site released

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METRO DETROIT SCHOOLS FACE BUDGET CUTS
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LIVONIA, Mich. - Many Metro Detroit school districts with shrinking
student populations will operate with less money next year, as state
funding is dealt out on a per-student basis.

In Livonia, budget cuts will total $5.8 million; in Dearborn, $12
million; and in Ferndale, $3.4 million.

Livonia is cutting programs to make up the difference, and seeking to
attract students from surrounding districts by opening a magnet
school.

The school budget cuts may increase as the legislature considers how
to deal with a $350 million deficit in the school aid fund. Gov.
Engler and Senate Majority Leader Dan DeGrow say they intend to keep
the minimum amount of per-pupil dollars the same, postponing a planned
$200 increase in per-pupil funding for next year.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "Metro school cuts loom," Jan. 29, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0201/29/a01-402646.htm

Detroit News, "Schools lay off 39 trades workers," Jan. 29, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0201/29/d01-402488.htm

Viewpoint on Public Issues, "School Funding: Lack of Money or Lack of
Money Management?," Aug. 30, 2001
http://www.mackinac.org/article.asp?ID=3683


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GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE POSTHUMUS SAYS "VOUCHERS ARE DEAD"
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LANSING, Mich. - "Vouchers are dead. Vouchers are not for Michigan,"
Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus said at a recent Michigan Association of
School Administrators gubernatorial candidate forum, as reported by
George Weeks, political columnist for The Detroit News.

Though Posthumus supported the failed 2000 voucher ballot proposal, he
is no longer supportive of vouchers and will not include them as a
focus of his administration if elected, his spokesman Sage Eastman
told the News.

It remains to be seen whether Posthumus will continue to support other
school choice options, such as tax credits.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "Engler's address leads to campaign jabs," Jan. 27, 2002
http://detnews.com/2002/editorial/0201/27/a17-400685.htm

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Case for Choice in Schooling,"
January 2001
http://www.mackinac.org/article.asp?ID=3236


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INACCURATE REPORTING FROM SCHOOLS MAY COST STATE $300 MILLION
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LANSING, Mich. - The state may lose $300 million in Medicaid payments
due to inaccurate reporting from schools with regard to health clinic
expenses.

Federal officials are investigating state Medicaid records, many from
schools, saying the bills were "padded" and included questionable
services and consultant fees. So far, the federal government has
rejected $300 million in billings. State officials hope the loss will
be reduced as the state recalculates the billings.

In 1998 alone, Michigan spent $317 million on school-based Medicaid
programs, but only about 30 percent of that amount went for actual
health services for children, according to a federal General
Accounting Office report.
________
SOURCE:
Detroit Free Press, "Medicaid mix-up costly," Jan. 29, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/mich/medic29_20020129.htm


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RITALIN DEBATE CONTINUES
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DETROIT, Mich. - Debate over Ritalin use in schools continues as
legislators consider a package of bills designed to curb school
officials' tendency to suggest the drug as a solution to hyperactivity
in the classroom.

The bills came in response to complaints from parents who were told by
teachers or other school officials that their children should take
Ritalin, a calming drug used to treat "Attention Deficit Disorder" in
children.

If approved, the legislation would prohibit teachers from recommending
psychotropic drugs such as Ritalin for children. It would also
protect parents from being reported for child abuse because they
decide not to put their child on Ritalin or other psychiatric
medication.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "Ritalin debate splits schools," Jan. 27, 2002
http://detnews.com/2002/editorial/0201/27/a13-400699.htm

Detroit News, "Family, not laws, influences learning," Jan. 7, 2002
http://detnews.com/2002/editorial/0201/07/a09-383983.htm

Detroit News, "We ask teachers to maintain school order, but give them
too few tools," Jan. 27, 2002
http://detnews.com/2002/editorial/0201/27/a13-400698.htm

Viewpoint on Public Issues, "A Mixed Message to Children: Say "No" to
Drugs, but "Yes" to Ritalin?," Jan. 9, 2001
http://www.mackinac.org/article.asp?ID=3204

For up-to-date information on the Ritalin bills, visit
www.michiganvotes.org and type "Ritalin" into the keyword search box.


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DISTRICTS OFFER OPEN ENROLLMENT TO LURE STUDENTS, EXTRA FUNDING
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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Four Kent County school districts that said they
were too crowded to participate in the county's school-choice plan are
now considering accepting outsiders - as a way to boost sagging
budgets.

With state aid possibly freezing and expenses rising, superintendents
in Forest Hills, Rockford, Caledonia, and Byron Center are looking for
creative ways to increase per-pupil revenues.

Through the school-choice plan, schools can accept students from other
districts in the county, which could mean big dollars in state aid.
The Wyoming district took in more than 100 outsiders this year,
generating about $650,000.

"It's not like there are a lot of places you can go to increase your
revenue to balance the budget," Byron Center Superintendent Howard
Napp said. "So we owe it to ourselves to at least take a look at the
choice plan."
________
SOURCES:
Grand Rapids Press, "Schools eye outsiders for bucks," Jan. 22, 2002
http://gr.mlive.com/news/index.ssf?/news/stories/20020122gmchoice
2105303.frm


Holland Sentinel, "Open enrollment period begins in school district,"
Jan. 24, 2002
http://www.hollandsentinel.com/stories/012402/loc_012402019.shtml

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Impact of Limited School
Choice on Public School Districts," July 2000
http://www.mackinac.org/article.asp?ID=2962


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CHARTER SCHOOLS ORDERED TO DO CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECKS
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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - A local charter school has been ordered by
Central Michigan University to start conducting criminal background
checks of its employees, as required by state law.

West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science has not yet completed
checks through the FBI on 25 of its 27 teachers and staff, according
to CMU, which controls the school's charter.

"We take very seriously our oversight role of our 57 charter schools
and this is a very big part of it, making sure that teachers are
certified and background checks are completed," said Pamela
Fitzgerald, a CMU contract analyst who reviewed the school's records.

A bus driver at the school was arrested in 2000 for soliciting a
prostitute while driving one of the school's buses. And its former
operations manager, who filled in for bus drivers and volunteered as a
coach, was fired after the school learned he once was arrested for
possession of cocaine.

Sidney Faucette, head of the school's management company, said he has
requested federal checks on all employees but blamed the FBI for not
completing them more quickly.
________
SOURCE:
Grand Rapids Press, "Charter school ordered to do criminal checks,"
Jan. 25, 2002
http://gr.mlive.com/news/index.ssf?/news/stories/20020125gwestmich
105800.frm



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HOME SCHOOLERS SEEK ACCESS TO SCHOOL CLUBS, EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES
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HARRISBURG, Penn. - A bill introduced in the Pennsylvania Legislature
last month would require the state's public schools to let home
schoolers join sports teams and other clubs. Fourteen states already
have such laws, according to the Home School Legal Defense Association
in Purcellville, Va.

Testifying before a House Education Committee hearing last week, a
parent told lawmakers that families have little recourse if their
home-schooled children get turned away from school activities.

"Meanwhile, the child suffers, divorced from his community activity
through no fault of his own," parent Peter Hrycenko said.

About 6 percent of the nation's 850,000 home-schooled children
participate in extracurricular activities, according to a study
released in August by the U.S. Department of Education.

While some schools welcome home schoolers, others, such as Allentown's
Allen High School, where Hrycenko's son hopes to play, prohibit
children from participating if they don't attend class.

Hrycenko's lawsuit asks a county judge to overturn the policy barring
home schoolers from extracurricular activities in the school district.
________

SOURCES:
CNN.com, "Homeschoolers seek access to school clubs," Jan. 23, 2002
http://fyi.cnn.com/2002/fyi/teachers.ednews/01/23/homeschoolers.activit
ies.a p/index.html


Michigan Education Report, "Home schoolers turn to public schools for
support," Early Fall 2001
http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/mer/article.aspx?ID=3750


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NOTICE: NEW MICHIGAN EDUCATION REPORT WEB SITE RELEASED
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A new, updated version of the Michigan Education Report web site is
now open to the public.

On the new site, subscribers and interested readers can view the
current issue of Michigan Education Report and archived issues.

To view the new site, visit:
www.educationreport.org



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MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report
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Contact Managing Editor Elizabeth H. Moser at
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