Contents of this issue:
- DPS willing to sell to charter
- Retirement takes bigger chunk of
- Total enrollment down, but some
- Parents say volunteer policy is
- Baltimore may eliminate 'step'
DPS WILLING TO SELL TO CHARTER
DETROIT — Legacy Charter Academy opened this fall at the
site of the former Atkinson Elementary School in Detroit, demonstrating a
policy shift at Detroit Public Schools to allow selling closed buildings to
charter school operators, according to The Detroit News.
Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb approved selling 11
buildings to charter operators and others during his first year on the job, The
News reported, including National Heritage Academies, which operates Legacy
Academy. No buildings were sold in the year prior to that, although the
district has closed 150 schools in the past decade, according to The News.
"It really is a new day" for the district, real
estate developer Joel Landy told The News. Landy owns three former district
schools, according to the report. "They are for the first time selling them to
charter schools because there's no other agenda other than educating kids and
that's an amazing thing."
School district spokesman Steven Wasko told The News that
the former policy of refusing to sell to charters did nothing to slow down
charter growth in the city, while school board member Russ Bellant called it a
"bad policy change."
New charter schools weaken the nearby public schools and
contribute to the loss of enrollment revenue, Bellant told The News.
The Detroit News, "DPS schools get new life as charters,"
Oct. 2, 2010
Michigan Education Report, "Schools for sale," Aug. 15, 2007
RETIREMENT TAKES BIGGER CHUNK OF
LIVINGSTON COUNTY, Mich. — Michigan public school districts
began paying higher retirement contributions for their employees in October and
will see a second increase in November as a lawsuit over retiree health care plays
out, according to media reports.
The amount districts pay into the Michigan Public School
Employees Retirement System moved from 16.94 percent to 19.41 percent of
payroll in October and will increase to 20.66 percent in November, according to
the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus.
One reason for the increase is a lawsuit over a new requirement
that school employees contribute 3 percent of their salaries toward retiree
health care, the Press & Argus reported. A judge has ordered an injunction
in that case which puts the employee contributions in escrow until the case is
resolved, The (Adrian) Daily Telegram reported.
The payroll contribution might be reduced if the injunction
is lifted or if the employee contributions ultimately can be used, according to
a memo from the Michigan Office of Retirement Services, The Daily Telegram
Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, "Districts see
little assistance in budget," Oct. 1, 2010
The (Adrian) Daily Telegram, "Michigan public schools hit
with another pension cost increase," Oct. 1, 2010
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "MEA Lawsuit on Retiree Health Benefits
Misguided, Aug. 9, 2010
TOTAL ENROLLMENT DOWN, BUT SOME SCHOOLS GAIN
MUSKEGON COUNTY, Mich. — Total enrollment in public schools
is down by 800 students in Muskegon County and 700 in Saginaw County, but some
districts and charter public schools have seen gains, according to media
Officials pointed to lack of jobs and smaller families as
reasons for the overall decline, according to The Muskegon Chronicle and The
Enrollment shifts were apparent in Saginaw, where nine
districts said enrollment had fallen, but four districts and three charter
public schools reported gains, according to The News.
At the International Academy of Saginaw, a charter public
school, director Christi A. Seiple-Cole agreed that one reason for the
academy's 24 percent enrollment increase might be that parents are leaving schools
that have been named "Persistently Lowest Achieving Schools" by the state, The
News reported. There are four such schools in the Saginaw area, according to
In Muskegon County, 11 of 16 public school districts and charter
schools reported lower enrollment, including a 16 percent decline in Muskegon
Heights Public Schools, The Chronicle reported.
Muskegon Public Schools enrollment was boosted when Three
Oaks Academy, a charter public school, decided to stop offering grades six,
seven and eight, the report said. The academy reported an enrollment decline of
The Muskegon Chronicle, "Muskegon County schools lose 800 students as families move out," Sept.
The Saginaw News,
"In Chesaning and Saginaw County, student enrollment down from last year," Oct.
Mackinac Center for
Public Policy, "Common School Funding Myths," Sept. 7, 2010
PARENTS SAY VOLUNTEER POLICY IS UNFAIR
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Individuals with a felony conviction
are not allowed to be in-school volunteers in Grand Rapids Public Schools, a
policy that some parents say is unfairly distancing them from their children's
education, according to The Grand Rapids Press.
A group of parents distributed petitions at a recent open
house at Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Academy asking the school board to
reconsider, The Press reported. Grand Rapids parents with felony records can
attend parent/teacher conferences, but otherwise must be escorted by a
principal when inside a school, according to The Press.
The affected parents agree that convicted sex offenders
should not be allowed to volunteer, The Press reported, but object to the same
ban for such offenses as writing a bad check at any time in the past.
Officials in other districts told The Press that they may or
may not limit volunteerism based on felony convictions, depending on the
circumstances of each case.
A local church has offered to help parents who are non-violent
offenders pay the legal cost of having their records expunged, the report said.
The Grand Rapids Press, "Parents with felony convictions want to volunteer at Grand Rapids
school," Sept. 15, 2010
Michigan Education Digest, "Superintendent: Teacher behavior
'deplorable,'" Oct. 16, 2009
BALTIMORE MAY ELIMINATE 'STEP' INCREASES
BALTIMORE — "Step" increases may be erased in Baltimore
public schools in favor of a contract that pays teachers partly according to
students' performance and gives them more input on working conditions,
according to the Baltimore Sun. A ratification vote is planned this month.
The Sun described the new pay structure as "radical." City
teachers would receive a 2 percent pay increase the first year, but increases
of 1 percent and 1.5 percent in the next two years would depend on student
performance, teacher evaluations and any courses educators have taken to
improve instruction, according to the Sun.
The contract also calls for provisions which allow 80
percent of teachers in a school to help set working conditions not already
specified in the contract, such as more planning time, the report said.
By the end of the contract in 2012, a standard teacher could
earn up to $53,400, a professional teacher as much as $84,011, a model teacher
up to $92,700 and a lead teacher as much as $100,800, the Sun reported.
The Baltimore Sun, "City teachers would be able to earn
significantly more under new contract," Sept. 29, 2010
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Recaps of New Teachers
Union Contracts," Sept. 30, 2010
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.