Contents of this issue:
  • GVSU charter schools office closes two schools
  • Genesee County students trapped in assigned schools
  • Districts building schools too expensive to operate
  • Saginaw Township district discusses schools of choice
  • Schools concerned about number of snow days
  • Comment and win an iPod

GVSU CHARTER SCHOOLS OFFICE CLOSES TWO SCHOOLS
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Grand Valley State University will not renew contracts with two of its charter public schools after the schools failed to meet the authorizer’s enrollment and achievement standards, according to The Grand Rapids Press. Contracts with Advantage Academy in Kalamazoo and Tri-Valley Academy in Muskegon Heights will expire this summer. Both schools failed to meet standards set by the No Child Left Behind Act in 2005-2006 and received a "D" on the state report card, The Press reported.

"We strongly believe that charter schools should be accountable for the academic performance of their students," Ed Richardson, GVSU director of charter schools, told The Press. "We think it's critical that our charter schools have their students perform equal to or better than the school districts where their students came from." Dan Quisenberry, president of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies, said that the closures show a commitment to accountability.

"It's part of the process. A charter is a contract with performance measures and expectations," Quisenberry, told The Press. "If a school cannot meet the benchmarks, it closes, and it's not happening anywhere else in public education."

SOURCE: The Grand Rapids Press, "GVSU ends ties with two charter schools," Feb. 6, 2008 http://blog.mlive.com/grpress/2008/02/gvsu_ends_ties_with_two_charte.html

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Mission Creep,’" Jan. 11, 2008
http://www.mackinac.org/9183


GENESEE COUNTY STUDENTS TRAPPED IN ASSIGNED SCHOOLS
FLINT, Mich. – A cap on the Genesee County Intermediate School District’s schools of choice program has prevented 421 students from transferring to the schools their parents want them to attend, according to The Flint Journal.

The GISD limits the number of schools of choice students a district can accept to 1 percent of the district’s total enrollment. This number was agreed upon by district superintendents, The Journal reported.

Andre Bowie has tried twice to enroll his two children in Carman-Ainsworth, but has been denied both times. The district received 189 applications for about 50 available spots. Carman-Ainsworth Superintendent Billy Haley said his district had room for more applicants, but was hindered by the ISD.

"We'd like to take them all, but we just can't. The ISD won't let us," Haley told The Journal. Of the 421 students who were unable to transfer schools this year, 57 percent were attempting to transfer out of the Flint Community School District. Flint lost 102 students through schools of choice this year. However, it did gain 13 students through the program, according to The Journal.

Bowie has enrolled his children in Grand Blanc Academy, but is still hoping for a chance to transfer them to Carman-Ainsworth. "When we decided to move them, we were thinking long-term," Bowie told The Journal. "None of the Flint high schools have a high enough grade (from the state)."

SOURCE:
The Flint Journal, "GISD’s cap keeps students from attending schools of choice," Feb. 6, 2008 http://www.mlive.com/news/flintjournal/index.ssf?/base/news-48/1202311211311430.xml&coll=5

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Nonresident Student Adjustment Not Under Sections 105 and 105c," in "A Michigan School Money Primer," May 30, 2007
http://www.mackinac.org/8628#nonassign


DISTRICTS BUILDING SCHOOLS TOO EXPENENSIVE TO OPERATE
DETROIT – Districts throughout the state are building new, highly innovative schools, but have found they don’t have the money to operate them, according to The Detroit News.

Howell’s new $72 million Parker High School was deemed by state officials as a school of the future, with its inclusion of a wing for community college courses, a credit union and an opportunity to graduate with a high school diploma and an associate’s degree. The district however, has had many budget concerns and possible school closures, including Parker High, The News reported. Other districts are in a similar situation, as the Ann Arbor schools had to delay the opening of an $80 million, four-story high school. The school was built to alleviate overcrowding, but the district was unable to afford its operating costs this school year. There are plans to have it open next fall with 400 freshmen, The News reported.

The Chippewa Valley school district has delayed the opening of a middle school and two ninth grade centers, even though enrollment increased by 348 students. The new middle school will cost $2.4 million to operate and the ninth grade centers will shift teaching responsibilities for high school teachers. Macomb Township resident Grace Caporuscio is frustrated that the district could not organize their finances well enough to plan for the opening of the schools, according to The News.

"What was I thinking?" Caporuscio, who voted in favor of a $168 million bond in the Chippewa Valley School District in 2004, told The News. "We built these lavish schools and now we can't afford to operate them." Experts have addressed many components of this issue, a primary concern being financial planning.

"Districts that planned years ago for a new building may now not necessarily need it," Gary Olson, director of the Senate Fiscal Agency, told The News. He noted that more than 400 of the state's 552 school districts reported declining enrollment this year and that 80 percent of the drop in enrollment is due to declining birthrates, The News reported.

SOURCE:
The Detroit News, "New schools now too costly to operate," Feb. 9, 2008 http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080209/SCHOOLS/802090354/1409/METRO

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "School Budgets: A Crisis of Management, Not Finance," Feb. 11, 2005
http://www.mackinac.org/6980


SAGINAW TOWNSHIP DISTRICT DISCUSSES SCHOOLS OF CHOICE
SAGINAW TOWNSHIP – The Saginaw Township school board held a community forum to help guide its decision on the future of the district’s schools of choice program, according to The Saginaw News.

Board and community members have been split over the issue for years. Many residents have voted down bond proposals for school improvements because they feel the children of non-residents will benefit from their tax money. About 17 percent of the township’s students come from other districts, The News reported. The board is trying to decide between continuing, capping or cutting the schools of choice program. Board President Judith Lincoln insisted that she would not cut schools of choice if it meant sacrificing any other programs.

"I would not be willing to cut a single program," Lincoln told the community forum, according to The News.

SOURCE:
The Saginaw News, "Schools of Choice forum attracts 150," Jan. 29, 2008 http://blog.mlive.com/saginawnews/2008/01/schools_of_choice_forum_attrac.html

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Conclusion: Competition Is Improving Public Schools for Michigan Children," in "The Impact of Limited School Choice on Public School Districts," July 24, 2000
http://www.mackinac.org/2962


SCHOOLS CONCERNED WITH NUMBER OF SNOW DAYS
SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Many northern Michigan school districts are concerned about the number of snow days already being used this winter, including some that have reached their allotment, according to SooToday.com.

Clare Public Schools has already used of all of its allocated snow days, and may need to extend the school year or have longer school days if they need to cancel school in the upcoming weeks. Some areas are also seeing cuts in their plow and salt truck fleets, leading to more closures, SooToday.com reported. Sault Ste. Marie area school districts have only had one snow day this year. In the Algoma school district, transportation has been cancelled once due to weather, but students were still expected to attend. The Huron-Superior Catholic District doesn’t set a number for allotted snow days each year, according to SooToday.com.

SOURCE:
SooToday.com, "Already too many ‘snow days’ in Northern Michigan," Feb. 6, 2008 http://www.sootoday.com/content/news/full_story.asp?StoryNumber=30054

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "Winter Weather Wonderland," Nov. 21, 2006
http://www.educationreport.org/8025


COMMENT AND WIN AN IPOD
MIDLAND, Mich. – Go to http://forum.educationreport.org and post a comment for a chance to win one of three iPods.


MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (http://www.educationreport.org), a quarterly newspaper published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (http://www.mackinac.org), a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Sarah Grether at mailto:med@educationreport.org

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