Contents of this issue:

  • State Supreme Court lets DPS emergency manager stay
  • Some Michigan teachers could receive $1,600 bonuses
  • Adrian teachers reject contract proposed by mediator
  • 4,100 DPS teachers get layoff slips
  • Fowlerville considers privatization to avoid budget deficit
  • Mackinac Center hosting online learning discussion

State Supreme Court Lets DPS Emergency Manager Stay

DETROIT – In a unanimous decision, the Michigan Supreme Court rejected an appeal of a lower-court decision that upheld the appointment of Roy Roberts as Detroit Public Schools emergency manager, according to the Associated Press. The decision marks the end of the judicial challenge to the DPS emergency manager position.

The AP reports the appeal was filed by Robert Davis, an activist and member of the Highland Park Board of Education who has filed several law suits challenging aspects of Public Act 4, Michigan’s emergency manager law. In the suit, Davis had argued the office of emergency manager should have been considered vacant since Roberts did not take an oath of office until August, despite starting his work in May. The Appeals Court ruling against Davis was handed down last year.

SOURCE: The Associated Press, “Michigan Supreme Court allows DPS emergency manager to stay," April 16, 2012

FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Report, “Detroit Public Schools shows first surplus in four years," Dec. 6, 2011

Some Michigan Teachers Could Receive $1,600 Bonuses

ROMULUS, Mich. – Teachers at 28 Michigan schools could be seeing bonuses worth up to $1,600 this year, according to the Detroit Free Press. The bonuses would be awarded for things like improving student scores, developing training sessions for staff and volunteering to tutor students.

Funding for the bonuses comes from the federal Student Improvement Grant (SIG) program, which has spent more than $4.6 billion in the lowest performing schools across the country. The Free Press reports that the 28 Michigan schools in the program received a combined $83 million in 2010.

According to The Free Press, 19 schools had to adopt a new teacher evaluation system so student performance data would be included in a significant way, while the remaining school districts were required to replace half of their teaching staff.

SOURCE: The Detroit Free Press, “Improve student test scores, and teachers might get a $1,600 bonus,” April 13, 2012

FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Report, “Low-performers eligible for grants,” June 15, 2010

Adrian Teachers Reject Contract Proposed By Mediator

ADRIAN, Mich. – Adrian teachers have rejected their latest contract offer, according to The (Adrian) Daily Telegram. A mediator who has been working with the union and district for several months had written the most recent proposal.

Adrian Superintendent Chris Timmis told The Telegram the proposal included a 5 percent wage reduction and no step increases for 2011-12 or 2012-2013. It also included a cap on how much the district can pay towards health insurance policies in order to comply with state law. He claimed teachers had seen steady pay increases in recent years while other district employees have taken pay freezes or cuts.

Jeff Condon, president of the Adrian Education Association, told The Telegram the proposed changes amounted to “huge concessions” but he couldn’t say if that played a role how individual teachers chose to vote.

Timmis told the Telegram the district was just trying to balance its budget in the face of declining revenues and increasing pension costs. He also noted Adrian was one of the highest-paying districts in Lenawee County.

SOURCE: The (Adrian) Daily Telegram, “Adrian teachers reject contract,” April 15, 2012

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Oakridge Schools Lets the Sunshine In,” March 15, 2012

4,100 DPS Teachers Get Layoff Slips

DETROIT – Detroit Public Schools has sent layoff notices to the district’s entire teaching staff, according to The Detroit News. Administrative and non-union employees all received layoff notices a few weeks ago.

According to The News, teachers can begin reapplying for their jobs next month, after which all but about 400 teachers will be called back. The district used a similar process last year, but changes in state law mean callbacks will work differently this time around.

"This was done previously; what's different and what parents should be aware of is the process to call staff back," district spokesman Steve Wasko told The News. "Based on new state law, all school districts are precluded from making hiring decisions based solely on seniority; thus decisions will be made based on evaluations."

Wasko told The News the change means the district will be able to not only call back the right number of teachers, but also ensure those called back are of the highest quality and meet staffing needs.

SOURCE: The Detroit News, “DPS teachers get layoff slips,” April 13, 2012

FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Headlines Screamed Mass School Layoffs, Reality Tells a Different Story,” Sep. 28, 2011

Fowlerville Considers Privatization to Avoid Budget Deficit

FOWLERVILLE, Mich. – Fowlerville Community Schools expects to see its budget deficit grow to $2.6 million next year, according to The Livingston Daily Press & Argus. The district expects to have $24 million in revenue next year, far below projected expenses.

"We've got an operational deficit, which means we're not taking in as much as we're spending," Superintendent Rick Heinrich told The Livingston Daily. "And that operational deficit does get worse."

The board recently approved a new contract with the bus drivers union that will save the district $300,000 through 2014. The board has also begun soliciting bids for custodial and maintenance services. According to The Livingston Daily, Fowlerville is the only district in Livingston County not to have privatized their custodial services.

SOURCE: The Livingston Daily Press & Argus, “Fowlerville schools facing projected $2.6M budget shortfall,” April 13, 2012

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Michigan School Privatization Survey 2011,” Dec. 7, 2011

Mackinac Center Hosting Online Learning Discussion

MIDLAND, Mich. – The Mackinac Center for Public Policy on May 23 at the Lansing Center will host former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise, who is co-chair of the Digital Learning Council along with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, to discuss how digital technology and online learning can improve educational outcomes and expand student opportunities. Wise is president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and author of the book “Raising the Grade: How High School Reform Can Save Our Youth and Our Nation.” The Mackinac Center publishes Michigan Education Digest.

Wise, a Democrat, was governor of West Virginia from 2001 to 2005 and served in Congress from 1983 to 2001.

SOURCE: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “The Online Learning Revolution event featuring Bob Wise.”

MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report, an online newspaper published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

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