Contents of this issue:
MEAP scores show mixed results
Later school start could mean end of winter break
Independent school adapts to meet needs of parents
Lakeview considers downsizing, privatization
More school construction problems in Ann Arbor
Judge rejects Livonia parents' lawsuit
Bullock Creek settles contract
MEAP SCORES SHOW MIXED RESULTS
LANSING, Mich. — Michigan students do better on the math and reading portions of the MEAP test in earlier grades, while older students perform better on the writing test, according to Booth Newspapers.
MEAP results released March 9 show 87 percent of third graders met or exceeded state standards in math and reading. Just over half, 51 percent, performed that well on writing standards, Booth reported.
Sixth graders recorded the highest writing scores, with 75 percent of them meeting or exceeding standards. Among eighth graders, 63 percent met or exceeded state math standards, while 73 percent did the same for reading, Booth reported.
The MEAP, expanded to test more students in more grades last fall, included science for fifth and eighth grades and social studies in sixth grade, Booth reported. Some 77 percent of fifth and eighth graders met or exceeded science standards, while 78 percent of sixth graders did the same in social studies.
MEAP scores will be used in determining school achievement in making Adequate Yearly Progress under the No Child Left Behind Act, as well as in formulating Michigan's school report cards, Booth reported. MEAP scores for school districts can be found at www.michigan.gov/meap.
Booth Newspapers, "Statewide students scores up on MEAP," March 9, 2006
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Nationalizing Curriculum and Testing," July 27, 2002
Michigan Education Digest, "MEAP results late," Feb. 14, 2006
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Credit Conundrum," Dec. 12, 2005
Michigan Education Digest, "State threatens action against MEAP contractor," Oct. 11, 2005
Michigan Education Digest, "More students to take MEAP: Testing earlier in school year," Sept. 6, 2005
LATER SCHOOL START COULD MEAN END OF WINTER BREAK
MONROE, Mich. — Students in the Monroe Public Schools have enjoyed their last winter break for the foreseeable future, according to the Monroe News.
A new state law that mandates schools begin classes after Labor Day means giving up the week off in February in order to finish the school year in early June.
"Rather than teach in the summer, they would much rather teach now," Bob Nichols, president of the Monroe teachers union, told the Monroe News. Nichols said a membership survey showed 80 percent of teachers preferred to cancel the winter break, rather than teach into the middle of June. One reason Nichols cited for support among teachers was the lack of air conditioning in many of the district's schools.
Monroe News, "Winter break was last for Monroe," Feb. 26, 2006
Michigan Education Report, "Legislative Action: Post-Labor Day School Start," Dec. 15, 2005
MichiganVotes.org, "2005 House Bill 4803 (Ban school year starting before Labor Day)"
INDEPENDENT SCHOOL ADAPTS TO MEET NEEDS OF PARENTS
MUSKEGON, Mich. — A Montessori school in Muskegon County will offer year-round classes beginning in September, according to The Muskegon Chronicle.
Michigan Dunes Montessori, which offers pre-kindergarten through third grade, has experienced a 73 percent drop in enrollment over the past decade, The Chronicle reported.
"Our motto all of these years has been, 'How can we meet the needs of the parents?'" school Administrator Claire Chiasson told The Chronicle. "We have a lot of working, professional parents, who don't want to have to take their children from our school and put them in a day care. They told us that if we wanted the school filled, we should keep it open."
Unlike conventional public schools that close for breaks during the school year and for a long stretch in the summer — sometimes causing parents to seek alternative accommodations during those times — Michigan Dunes will remain open all year, except two weeks each August, The Chronicle reported. The move is in response to parents' wishes expressed during a December meeting.
Chiasson told The Chronicle that Michigan Dunes, which attempted to merge with a public charter school last fall, could still pursue that option.
The Muskegon Chronicle, "School comes up with new plan to attract students," Feb. 22, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Grand Rapids board reviews plans for year-round schools," Dec. 21, 2004
LAKEVIEW CONSIDERS DOWNSIZING, PRIVATIZATION
LAKEVIEW, Mich. — Lakeview Community Schools is considering eliminating several positions and privatizing custodial and food service operations as part of a plan to eliminate a $1.2 million deficit, according to the Greenville Daily News.
The district, in Montcalm County, has discussed eliminating one principal position, several secretarial positions, a transportation supervisor job, a high school teacher spot and seven paraprofessional positions, the Daily News reported.
More than 70 people picketed a board of education meeting last month, carrying signs that read "No Privatizing," according to the Daily News. Sally Raczkowski, president of the Lakeview Education Support Personnel Association said the picketers came from other school districts, including Cedar Springs, Tri-County, Grand Rapids and Montabella.
The district has 128 fewer students compared to five years ago, the Daily News reported.
"Everything we do financially depends on how many students we have here," the Daily News reported Superintendent J. Mark Parsons said during the four-hour meeting. "We are not taking joy in what we are looking at."
The Greenville Daily News, "4 hour meeting, pickets at Lakeview," Feb. 14, 2006
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Survey: School Outsourcing Grows," Aug. 1, 2005
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "How Much Is Enough?" May 16, 2005
MORE SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION PROBLEMS IN ANN ARBOR
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Financial problems continue to plague two major construction projects for the Ann Arbor Public Schools, according to The Ann Arbor News.
More than half of a $530,000 contingency fund has been spent in change orders for an early childhood center, The News reported. The $6.8 million project did not meet building codes, and many of the change orders came after a state review. Door locations, for example, had to be moved to meet egress standards, The News reported.
"The amount of change orders is exceptionally high," Julianne Chard, the district's bond director, told The News. "We're using more of the construction contingency than is comfortable in a normal project."
A new high school the district is building is $3.3 million over budget and a year behind schedule, according to Superintendent George Fornero, The News reported.
The Ann Arbor News, "2nd school project hits snag," March 7, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "New Ann Arbor high school $3 million over budget," Dec. 13, 2005
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Michigan's Prevailing Wage Law Forces Schools to Waste Money," Nov. 9, 2001
Michigan Education Report, "Innovative construction saves charter school time, money," Aug. 18, 2004
Michigan Education Report, "Is there a better way to finance and build new schools?" April 16, 1999
JUDGE REJECTS LIVONIA PARENTS' LAWSUIT
LIVONIA, Mich. — Livonia Public Schools can proceed with a school consolidation plan, now that a judge has denied a request to block it, according to The Detroit News.
Wayne County Circuit Court Judge John A. Murphy denied a preliminary injunction filed by a group of parents. The district wants to close seven elementary schools and reconfigure buildings with grades split into K-4, 5-6, 7-8 and 9-12, The News reported. The district said the plan could reduce costs by up to $2 million a year.
Murphy said the plaintiffs failed to prove the board's decision was "arbitrary," The News reported.
"Common sense says that the fewer schools, fewer costs," Murphy said, according to The News.
Parents also accused the school of violating the Open Meetings Act by forming a Demographics Committee made up of 40 people, including five school board members, which met for a year without keeping minutes or attendance records, The News reported. Murphy sided with the district, saying the parents did not prove board intent to circumvent the act.
The Detroit News, "Judge refuses to halt Livonia school restructuring plan," March 10, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Livonia parents fight school closings," Jan. 10, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Livonia to close seven schools," Dec. 13, 2005
Michigan Education Digest, "Metro Detroit schools face budget cuts," Jan. 29, 2002
BULLOCK CREEK SETTLES CONTRACT
MIDLAND, Mich. — Teachers in the Bullock Creek Public Schools have a new contract, ratified by 92 percent of union members, according to the Midland Daily News.
Negotiations took seven months, the Daily News reported. The two-year contract includes a 1.5 percent pay raise this year and a 2 percent raise next year. Teachers also agreed to switch health insurance coverage to a PPO. The Daily News in December reported that health care in the district cost more than $16,000 a year per teacher.
"That was our big economic adjustment," Renaye Baker, president of the Bullock Creek teachers union, told the Daily News.
Midland Daily News, "BC teachers, administration agree on pact," March 9, 2006
Midland Daily News, "Bullock Creek calls in state mediator for talks," Dec. 15, 2005
Michigan Education Report, "Growing number of districts seek solutions to costly health insurance," Dec. 15, 2005
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Teacher Health Insurance Money Should Not Fund Politics," July 1, 1998
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Michigan Education Special Services Agency: The MEA's Money Machine," Nov. 1, 1993
MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (http://www.educationreport.org), a quarterly newspaper with a circulation of nearly 150,000 published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (http://www.mackinac.org), a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.
Contact Managing Editor Ted O'Neil at
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