Contents of this issue:
  • Lansing Christian School parents open store to fund pay raises
  • Teacher resigns over MEAP testing violations
  • Wayne-Westland schools get security upgrade
  • Pinckney teachers satisfied with switch in health insurance
  • Carman-Ainsworth teachers get raises, pay more for prescription
  • Comment and win an iPod

LANSING, Mich. — Some parents at Lansing Christian School have opened a thrift store with the intention of donating proceeds to fund a pay increase for the school's 53 teachers, according to the Lansing State Journal.

The Hidden Treasures Thrift Store will be run by one full-time and two part-time paid employees, while the rest of the workers will be volunteers. The proceeds from the store, after expenses, will be given to the school, the Journal reported.

Renita Van Solkema, an LCS parent and Hidden Treasures board president, told the Journal that 140 volunteers worked to renovate the store's building and spent $760,000 on the project. Van Solkema said the vision for the store is to become a source of regular funding for the school, according to the Journal.

LCS teachers make less than what is recommended by Christian Schools International for the mid-Michigan area. CSI suggests private Christian schools have a starting salary of $31,000, increasing to $60,000 after 30 years. At LCS the starting salary is $27,000, with the chance of making $40,000 after 30 years. School Superintendent Barry Koops wants to make sure the school continues to bring in good teachers.

"In order to get and to keep great teachers, you really have to be able to pay them so they can make this their life's work," Koops said. "We're committed to the idea that if you want a great school, you must have great teachers."

Lansing State Journal, "Parent-run thrift store will fund teachers' pay raise," Nov. 10, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Private School Costs vs.

Public School Costs," in "The Universal Tuition Tax Credit: A proposal to Advance Parental Choice in Education," Nov. 13, 1997

LELAND, Mich. — A Northport Public Schools teacher has resigned in an agreement with the district after allegedly committing a handful of violations while administering the Michigan Educational Assessment Program test, according to the Leelanau Enterprise.

Carla Hammersley, who has been teaching at Northport for 15 years, agreed to resign effective in June. She is on leave and will be paid the remainder of her $49,517 annual salary and receive benefits until the end of the school year, the Enterprise reported.

A three-person committee, including Steve Wetherbee, teacher and president of the Northport Education Association union, Sue Boss, a fourth and fifth grade teacher, and Meredith Schmidt, school counselor and district MEAP coordinator, questioned students and Hammersley, and discovered administrative violations, but there was no evidence that she gave any answers to the test, according to the Enterprise.

The violations included providing information to three sixth grade students that may have helped answer a total of five questions, coaching students on writing by recommending the use of certain formats and correcting grammar mistakes, and using a projector to review a persuasive essay immediately before administering writing tests to sixth, seventh and eighth grade students, the Enterprise reported.

Leelanau Enterprise, "Northport teacher resigns over MEAP violation," Nov. 12, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Which Educational Achievement Test is Best for Michigan? A Comparison of the MEAP, SAT-9, and ITBS," Sept. 8, 2002

WESTLAND, Mich. — The Wayne-Westland Community Schools are upgrading their video surveillance, according to the Detroit Free Press.

After cameras were installed throughout schools in the district seven years ago, vandalism inside the schools dropped by almost 100 percent, while vandalism outside the buildings dropped by 90 percent. Also, last month a burglar was caught within 24 hours after police were able to examine still images of him from security cameras, the Free Press reported.

The upgrade will cost about $1 million and will include 800 cameras in 26 buildings and in school buses. Superintendent Gregory L. Baracy said the strong security creates a positive learning environment in the 13,600-student district.

"We have a calm presence in our buildings," Baracy told the Free Press. "Our students feel safe and we want to keep it that way."

Half of the funding for the upgrade comes from the U.S. Department of Justice Secure Our Schools program, while the district matched that grant, the Free Press reported.

The Detroit Free Press, "Schools step up focus on security," Nov. 13, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "The three P's of school safety: parents, prevention, and police," Nov. 1, 2001

PINCKNEY, Mich. — Pinckney Community Schools teachers are in the midst of contract negotiations with the district, but are satisfied with the conditions of their expired contract, including a change from insurance administered by the Michigan Education Special Services Association, according to the Livingston Daily Press & Argus.

The teachers' current contract was two years in length and included a 1.2 percent pay increase the first year and a 2.8 percent increase the second year. Teachers also agreed to purchase health insurance directly from Blue Cross Blue Shield, rather than deal with the MESSA, a third-party administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association school employees union. The switch is saving the district $800,000 per year, or about $164 per pupil, and rates for Blue Cross have gone down this year, the Press & Argus reported.

Pinckney Education Association President Mimi Katakowski told the Press & Argus she does not expect a return to insurance administered by MESSA to be discussed during this negotiation cycle.

Livingston Daily Press & Argus, "Despite expired contract, Pinckney teachers largely happy with status quo," Nov. 8, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "MESSA reports $65 million revenue gain in one year," May 24, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Potential Per-Pupil Savings Resulting from Health Benefits Changes Made in Michigan School Districts," March 6, 2007

FLINT, Mich. — The Carman-Ainsworth teachers union has agreed to a three-year contract that includes pay raises and a slight increase in prescription co-pays, according to The Flint Journal.

Teachers will receive a 2.3 percent pay increase the first and second years and a 1.5 percent increase in the third year. Currently, teachers pay either $5 or $10 in co-pays for prescriptions. This will increase to $10 and $20, respectively.

"It was a very slow process, but by nature you can see because it took us a year to resolve," Linda Wainio, president of the Carman-Ainsworth Education Association, told The Journal. "However, we did reach a settlement that both sides felt they could support."

The Flint Journal, "Teacher contract earns approval," Nov. 11, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "Growing number of districts seek solutions to costly health insurance," Dec. 15, 2005

MIDLAND, Mich. — Go to and post a comment for a chance to win one of three iPods.

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

Contact Managing Editor Sarah Grether at

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