Contents of this issue:
  • Muskegon school districts compete for kindergarteners
  • Oak Park student charged with assaulting teacher
  • Macomb Catholic school breaks ground
  • Michigan school board members create leadership organization
  • Mona Shores teachers switch health plans, get raises
  • Comment and win an iPod

MUSKEGON, Mich. — Muskegon County school districts are hosting recruiting events to boost kindergarten enrollment for next year, according to The Muskegon Chronicle.

All 12 Muskegon County districts participate in the schools of choice program and have decided to coordinate "kindergarten roundup" events to allow parents to "shop" for the best school district for their child, while also allowing enrollment on the spot for students within the district boundaries, The Chronicle reported.

Districts are taking varied approaches to the "roundup" activities. A handful are asking that parents attend without the future student, while others are offering free child care during the activities and some have made the events kid-friendly by offering "literacy bags" with books for children, according to The Chronicle.

"We're hoping by promoting public schools, we'll have more families joining us," Amy Upham, principal of Fruitport Community Schools' Edgewood Elementary, told The Chronicle. "It's a time when parents can come in and view the classrooms."

The Muskegon Chronicle, "County schools aggressively going after kindergartners," Feb. 12, 2008

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

OAK PARK, Mich. — An Oak Park High School student has been charged with assault and battery in response to an incident with a female teacher, according to The Detroit News.

The girl, 17, will go before an Oakland County District Court judge for the assault charge. A second female student, 15, may be charged for assaulting a male teacher as he came to break up the initial fight, The News reported.

"Since she was a juvenile, we sent a request for a petition to the Oakland County prosecutor, and they will determine if she will be charged with assault and battery," Lt. Mike Pousak of the Oak Park Police Department told The News.

Both students were suspended with recommendation that they be expelled. The expulsion hearings will be held in upcoming weeks. The two girls were upset with the teacher over an earlier incident and confronted her, according to The News.

"They went to her classroom and called for her to step out of the classroom," Pousak told The News. "The teacher then called for another teacher who tried to step between her and the girls, and one of the girls then assaulted him."

Oak Park High School has a history of violence, The News reported. Last fall, a janitor was assaulted at the school after a football game and weeks later, a student was found carrying a large folding knife as well as being in possession of marijuana. The same day, a fight broke out in the lunch room, resulting in charges against a handful of students. Despite the violence, administrators believe they handle it well, according to The News.

"We had some kids who were acting inappropriately and now they'll suffer the consequences," Superintendent Sandra Harris told The News. "We won't tolerate that kind of behavior. The students were disgruntled and mad at the teacher. They decided to take their aggression out on her."

The Detroit News, "Girl's assault hearing set," Feb. 11, 2008

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

MACOMB, Mich. — A Catholic high school 10 years in the making has started the building process and is scheduled to open in September 2009, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Austin Catholic Academy has been able to raise about one-third of the $30 million needed to construct the school and continues to examine financing options, the Free Press reported.

Nationwide, enrollment in Catholic schools has dropped to 2.3 million in 2006-07 from 2.4 million in 2005-2006.

"We are going to have to go out for tax-free school bonds, which need to be repaid by community effort and donations," Leonard Brillati, president of the board of trustees, told the Free Press. "We just need everybody's effort in the community to come forward with financial gifts."

Austin will be the only co-ed Catholic school in Macomb County and will have 40 teachers and 200 high school freshmen upon opening. It will add a new class each year until it reaches its capacity of 800 students in 2012-2013, according to the Free Press.

Detroit Free Press, "Catholic school in Macomb breaking ground today," Feb. 12, 2008

Michigan Education Report, "Detroit-area Catholic schools look to future," Nov. 21, 2006

LIVINGSTON COUNTY, Mich. — Education leaders from around the state have established the Michigan School Board Leaders Forum Inc., an organization to help districts communicate about education issues, according to the Livingston Daily Press & Argus.

The group was formed as a way to educate board members statewide about contract negotiations, general reform issues and tools for financial management. The group has created an online forum to start discussion of these issues and is hoping this is a first step to broadening the perspectives of school board members. Eventually, the group plans to hold regional meetings, the Press & Argus reported.

"This is a chance for those of us committed to meaningful education reform to create a forum dedicated to improving the system, rather than simply supporting the status quo," Mike Reno, a Rochester Community Schools board member, told the Press & Argus. "MSBLF is about responsible stewardship and accountability to students, parents and taxpayers."

Livingston Daily Press & Argus, "School leaders band together," Feb. 18, 2008

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "School Board Self-Help," Sept. 27, 2004

MONA SHORES, Mich. — The Mona Shores teachers and board of education have agreed to a two-year contract that will include pay raises while saving the district $300,000 a year on health insurance costs, according to The Muskegon Chronicle.

Teachers will receive a 2 percent pay increase for 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 and will receive health benefits through the Michigan Education Special Services Association Choices II plan. Previously, teachers could choose the more expensive Super Care I MESSA plan. Teachers will also contribute $10 and $20 for prescription co-pays, while before they contributed $5 and $10 for co-pays, The Chronicle reported. MESSA is a third-party administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association school employees union that outsources insurance underwriting and then sells the policies to school districts.

An agreement was reached months before the current contract expires on Aug. 31.

"We found a way to save the district thousands of dollars each year and still maintain quality health care insurance for our members," Keith Sauter, president of the Mona Shores Teachers Education Association, told The Chronicle. "We were able to discuss issues and work out solutions that addressed concerns for both sides rather quickly."

The Muskegon Chronicle, "Mona Shores teachers get 2 percent raises with new contract," Feb. 12, 2008

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Selective Moral Outrage," Sept. 24, 2007

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Ann Arbor Public Schools plans to open the newly constructed Skyline High School with about 400 freshmen next fall, according to The Detroit News.

AAPS will transfer staff from its other two high schools, Huron and Pioneer, to the four-story school, which cost $80 million to build, The News reported.

A printed correction The News ran on Feb. 13, 2008, said Skyline High School's opening was delayed due to construction setbacks. The News had originally reported the delay was due to a lack of operating funds.

The Detroit News, "New schools too costly to operate," Feb. 9, 2008

Michigan Education Digest, "New Ann Arbor High School $3 million over budget," Dec. 13, 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

To subscribe or unsubscribe, go to