Contents of this issue:
- Teacher retirees would get $40,000
- Mixed results on summer school
- Real estate scandal alleged in DPS
- Charter, reform advocates rally
- Rosewood in the running for charter
TEACHER RETIREES WOULD GET $40,000
HAZEL PARK, Mich. - More than three quarters of Hazel Park Schools teachers are at the top of the district salary scale, earning about $76,000 a year each, according to a report in the (Royal Oak) Daily Tribune. Now the district is offering them $40,000 each as a retirement incentive.
The money would be paid to teachers over a five-year period, Deputy Superintendent Jim Meisinger told the Hazel Park school board, according to the Tribune. The district would save money either by not replacing retirees or by hiring newcomers at an estimated $34,000 each.
Hazel Park's budget overspends by $5.7 million this year, the Tribune reported, and it must submit a corrective plan to the Michigan Department of Education by Oct. 1 explaining how it will eliminate that deficit. Failure to do so could result in loss of state aid, fines or jail time for officials, according to the Tribune.
Secretaries, custodians, bus drivers and cafeteria workers are being offered a $20,000 retirement incentive, the Tribune reported.
Calvin Mott, executive director of the South Oakland District of the Michigan Education Association, called the incentive package a "fair amount," and said he expects the board to ask for union concessions as well, the Tribune reported.
The (Royal Oak) Daily Tribune, "Hazel Park offers retirement incentives," Sept. 27, 2009
Michigan Education Digest, "State: Fix budget or go to jail," Aug. 18, 2009
MIXED RESULTS ON SUMMER SCHOOL
FARWELL, Mich. - Farwell Area Schools reported mixed results from an after school and summer program for students who need academic help or to make up failed classes, according to The Clare County Review.
The program, Students Participating in Academics and Recreation for Knowledge and Success, is coordinated through the Clare- Gladwin Regional Educational Service District.
John Trommater, assistant director of S.P.A.R.K.S., told Farwell school board members that some students who participated showed no improvement, The Review reported, while others made major gains. The goal of the federally funded program is that about half of all participants improve by half a grade.
Ninety-five percent of middle schoolers and 65 percent of elementary school students who participated attended the program for at least 30 days throughout the year, but only 32 percent of high schoolers, according to The Review.
The Clare County Review, "Farwell BOE gets S.P.A.R.K.S. update," Sept. 25, 2009
Michigan Education Report, "New high school graduation requirements in action," May 6, 2008
REAL ESTATE SCANDAL ALLEGED IN DPS
DETROIT - Detroit Public Schools may have overspent millions of taxpayer dollars in real estate purchases and management services related to Cass Technical High School, the Detroit School of Arts and the Fisher Building, a new inquiry shows, according to The Detroit News.
The district's inspector general, John Bell, said his investigation showed that the district bought land and buildings at allegedly inflated prices as well as paying management fees that were 10 times what would be expected, The News reported.
In most cases the real estate passed through the hands of several agents before being purchased or rented by the district.
Bell indicated that questions remain as to who benefited from the business deals, according to The News. Robert Bobb, the district's emergency financial manager, said he will open evidentiary hearings on the matter in October. Bobb is asking voters to approve a new $500 million building and renovation bond in November.
The Detroit News, "Inquiry shows DPS overpaid millions in real estate deals," Sept. 24, 2009
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "DPS Building Scandal Highlights Need for Transparency," Sept. 24, 2009
CHARTER, REFORM ADVOCATES RALLY
LANSING, Mich. - Charter public school and education reform advocates gathered at the Capitol in Lansing on Thursday to rally for legislation that would address failing schools, create new forms of public schools and permit alternative teacher certification, according to the Detroit Free Press.
The legislation is said to be needed to help Michigan compete for federal funds in the "Race to the Top" grant program, under which money goes to states that pledge to make reforms to improve student achievement.
About 2,500 charter school students, teachers and other supporters attended the event, as well as about a dozen legislators, the Free Press reported.
"Michigan is not doing what it takes to be competitive for the Race to the Top funds," said Michael Tenbusch, vice president for education preparedness at United Way of Southeastern Michigan, the Free Press reported. He said the state should make alternative teacher certification easier.
Rachele Downs, a member of the Leadership Detroit Education Support Committee, said removing the state limit on the number of charter public schools would encourage improvements in the state's education system, the Free Press reported.
Detroit Free Press, "Michigan school reform supporters rally in Lansing," Sept. 24, 2009
MichiganVotes.org, "Authorize neighborhood schools," June 11, 2009
MichiganVotes.org, "Authorize failing school 'turnaround schools,'" April 2, 2009
ROSEWOOD IN THE RUNNING FOR CHARTER
DETROIT - In the ongoing competition for the right to open a charter school in Michigan, Rosewood Academy has made it through the first round of playoffs.
In an article in Michigan Education Report, Rosewood organizers Patricia Scott and Constance Harvey explain that they want to open a school for sixth- through twelfth-graders in northeast Detroit that would focus on science, mathematics and technology.
Whether they can will depend on how they fare against other charter school proposals in a review by Grand Valley State University.
Both longtime educators and administrators, Scott and Harvey said they believe their plan for a small, safe, structured environment, combined with a demanding academic program and after-school support services, will boost achievement, graduation rates and success after graduation.
Michigan Education Report is sponsored by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which also publishes Michigan Education Digest.
Michigan Education Report, "When we're done with you, you will have options," Sept. 23, 2009
Michigan Education Report, "Seeing the potential in deaf education," Aug. 28, 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.