Contents of this issue:
- ISDs plan cuts, share superintendent
- Vouchers proposed in Georgia
- New Jackson charter proposed
- Wayne-Westland settles on raises, health concessions
- Today's eighth-graders, tomorrow's entrepreneurs
ISDS PLAN CUTS, SHARE SUPERINTENDENT
LANSING, Mich. - The need to rein in costs might lead the Ingham Intermediate School District to stop providing staff for the local Special Olympics program, according to the Lansing State Journal, while the Shiawassee and Clinton regional education service programs are now sharing a superintendent, according to the Owosso Argus-Press.
The Ingham district pays for two full-time staffers and part- time clerical help to support the area Special Olympics, according to the Journal. Cutting those positions could save up to $250,000; the district budget is $2.2 million above revenue.
Families are opposed to the move because of the potential impact on the program, the Journal reported, but district officials said that a survey of other intermediate districts showed that most who responded do not financially support the Special Olympics.
Other special education staffing cuts are proposed as well; the board is expected to vote on the budget Feb. 17, the Journal reported.
In related news, Superintendent John Hagel of the Shiawassee Regional Education Service District has also been named superintendent of the Clinton County Regional Education Service Agency, the Argus-Press reported.
Hagel said each district will continue to operate under separate boards of education, according to the Argus-Press. The districts already collaborate on some educational services.
The Lansing State Journal, "Families fight cuts to Special Olympics staff," Feb. 7, 2009
The (Owosso) Argus-Press, "Shiawassee RESD to share resources, superintendent," Feb. 6, 2009
Michigan Education Report, "Personal use of vehicles, car allowances part of benefit package in some ISDs," Feb. 29, 2008
VOUCHERS PROPOSED IN GEORGIA
ATLANTA, Ga. - A Georgia senator has introduced voucher legislation that would allow any parent to use approximately $5,000 in state funding to send a child to the public or private school of their choice, according to a report in The (Macon) Telegraph.
Sen. Eric Johnson, R-Savannah, who helped bring about Georgia's existing voucher program for special needs students, said schools could choose whether to participate in the program, according to The Telegraph.
"We are near the bottom of every single ranking in education in this state," Johnson told reporters. He predicted that about 5 percent of Georgia parents would use the vouchers, if offered, The Telegraph reported.
State Democrats said they will fight the plan, saying it will draw money away from struggling public schools, according to the report.
Nine states and Washington, D.C., have voucher programs for special needs or low-income students, The Telegraph said, but none are universal.
The (Macon) Telegraph, "Bill would provide universal vouchers in Georgia," Feb. 2, 2009
Michigan Education Digest, "Tuition tax credit program signed into law in Georgia," May 19, 2008
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Universal Tuition Tax Credit," Nov. 13, 1997
NEW JACKSON CHARTER PROPOSED
JACKSON, Mich. - A former Jackson Public Schools administrator is proposing a new charter public school in Jackson in which students would receive credit when they show proficiency, whether that's earlier or later than in a typical school, according to The Jackson Citizen Patriot.
Roxana Hopkins, a former Jackson assistant superintendent, told The Citizen Patriot that the Jackson Learning Lab would give more time to students who are failing in the area's traditional schools, but also allow students who want pursue an associate's degree while still in high school the chance to move ahead. She also hopes to attract area home-schoolers and those attending elementary public charter schools, The Citizen Patriot reported.
Organizers expect to learn in April whether Grand Valley State University is willing to be the chartering authority, The Citizen Patriot reported.
The school would have an academics-only focus, with no textbooks, clubs or sports, according to The Citizen Patriot.
"Families have to make the choice that's right for their family," said A'Lynne Robinson, Jackson Public Schools spokeswoman. "But I think with all the things we have to offer at JPS, we're pretty secure in the ability of parents to find a great education here."
"As a taxpayer, I think it's a good thing to have as much school of choice as possible," said Reuben Rubio, president of the Jackson Area Home Educators.
The Jackson Citizen Patriot, "JPS is eyeing charter school," Feb. 7, 2009
Michigan Education Report, "Pioneering new methods in education: Jackson home-schoolers share resources, knowledge," Sept. 6, 2006
WAYNE-WESTLAND SETTLES ON RAISES, HEALTH CONCESSIONS
WESTLAND, Mich. - Teachers agreed to health care concessions while the school district agreed to raises and smaller class sizes in a newly ratified contact in Wayne-Westland Community Schools, The Detroit News reported.
Teachers will pay a $400 or $200 deductible for a family or individual health plan, respectively, according to The News, as well as office visit and emergency room co-pays. Class size will be reduced by one student at all levels beginning next year, and teachers will receive a 1.75 percent wage increase this year followed by 1.5 percent in each of the three remaining years of the four-year agreement, The News reported.
The contract also includes a no-strike, no-lockout provision, according to The News. A letter of reprimand will be placed in the personnel files of teachers who participated in a four-day walkout in October, Superintendent Greg Baracy told The News, but the district will not attempt to prosecute them under Michigan law making teacher strikes illegal.
The Detroit News, "Wayne-Westland approves deal with teachers," Feb. 4, 2009
Michigan Education Digest, "Teachers strike, students sent home," Oct. 6, 2008
TODAY'S EIGHTH-GRADERS, TOMORROW'S ENTREPRENEURS
DETROIT - Eighth-grade students at Cornerstone Schools are grappling with taxes, minimum wage, free trade and other core economic principles as part of an educational partnership between the private school and Northwood University.
The program sends Brennan Brown, Northwood professor of economics, to the Cornerstone campuses in metro Detroit every Friday to teach introductory economics. The program is intended to foster students' appreciation and understanding of free enterprise and entrepreneurism, Brown told Michigan Education Report. Each student will be required to develop an entrepreneurial project as part of the class.
Cornerstone Schools is a private, K-8 school that enrolls about 1,100 students at several metro Detroit campuses. Northwood, a private university headquartered in Midland, specializes in managerial and entrepreneurial education.
"We shared a common love for freedom, so it was a matter of saying, 'How will we bring the idea of freedom to our schools?'" Cornerstone CEO Clark Durant told Michigan Education Report.
"Kids need to understand how freedom works, how the market works."
Michigan Education Report, "An economic stimulus for the mind," Feb. 10, 2009
Michigan Education Report, "The importance of a sound economic education," Feb. 10, 2009
MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (https://www.educationreport.org), an online newspaper published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (https://www.mackinac.org), a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.