All quotes and statistics not specifically sourced in endnotes came from interviews conducted by the author or from written testimonials supplied to the author between July 2011 and April 2012. He wishes to thank the following educators for the time, information and expertise they provided him in writing this Case Study:

Dr. William Skilling, superintendent, Oxford Community Schools

Tim Throne, executive director of strategic initiatives & technology, Oxford Community Schools

Andrew Hulbert, director, Oxford Virtual Academy 

Janet Schell, lead mentor teacher, Oxford Virtual Academy

Linda Lewis, communications director, Oxford Community Schools

Marsha Myles, president and CEO, EdTech Specialists

ALL PHOTOS by Daniel Montgomery, Mackinac Center marketing and design director. All photos featured online were taken at Oxford Community Schools, except the photo at the bottom of this page.


1 For school enrollment, see “Pupil Membership History: FY 1994-95 to FY 2012-13,” (Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency, 2012), http://goo.gl/xOCx3 (accessed April 27, 2012). For education-related tax revenues, see “Sources of Local School Operating Revenue: School Years 1968-69 to FY 2009-10,” (Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency, 2011), http://goo.gl/SOiz2 (accessed April 27, 2012). Cost pressures depended on numerous factors that varied by district, but all conventional public school districts were subject to the increased contributions required for the Michigan Public School Employees’ Retirement System. These contributions were already equivalent to 12.17 percent of a district’s payroll in fiscal 2002, and they had risen to 17.74 percent by fiscal 2007. “Employer Information: Office of Retirement Services: Public School Employees Retirement System: FY 2001-02,” (Michigan Office of Retirement Services, 2012), http://goo.gl/l4wWh (accessed April 26, 2012); “Employer Information: Office of Retirement Services: Public School Employees Retirement System: FY 2006-07,” (Michigan Office of Retirement Services, 2012), http://goo.gl/l6Q6L (accessed April 26, 2012). The phrase “one-state recession” was used more than once; see, for instance, Michael LaFaive, “Municipal Finance Expert Louis Schimmel Joins Mackinac Center,” (Mackinac Center for Public Policy, 2006), http://www.mackinac.org/7706 (accessed April 30, 2012).

2  Author’s calculations based on “State Aid Status Reports - Prior Year,” (Michigan Department of Education, 2003), http://goo.gl/NACDx (accessed April 26, 2012). For school population projections, see “SEMCOG 2035 Forecast Population by Age Group by School District,” (Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, 2009), http://goo.gl/K2528 (accessed March 20, 2012).

3  “Oxford Community Schools: Annual Financial Statements and Auditors’ Report,” (Oxford Community Schools, 2006), http://goo.gl/BeJ1Q (accessed May 3, 2012); “Oxford Community Schools: Annual Financial Statements and Auditors’ Report,” (Oxford Community Schools, 2012), http://goo.gl/bHkYx (accessed May 3, 2012).

4  For wealth by Michigan county, see per-capita personal income in “Regional Economic Accounts: Data: Local Area Personal Income & Employment,” (U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis, 2012), http://bea.gov/regional/ (accessed May 3, 2012). For Oxford enrollment growth, see “Bulletin 1014-Michigan Public Schools Ranked by Select Financial Information,” (Michigan Department of Education, 2012), http://goo.gl/WJezO (accessed May 2, 2012).

5  For the difficulties in Oakland County, see Robert Daddow, “A Perfect Storm: Oakland County Budget Symposium,” (Oakland County, Michigan, 2010), http://goo.gl/mBuuL (accessed April 27, 2012). For Oakland County foundation allowance figures, see “Per-Pupil Foundation Allowance Ten-Year History for Schools: FYs 2002-03 through 2011-12,” (Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency, 2011), http://goo.gl/L9JL0 (accessed April 27, 2012). For state minimum foundation allowance, see “Effective Foundation Allowance Changes Since Proposal A, Fiscal Years 1993-94 through 2010-12,” (Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency, 2012), http://goo.gl/69Cgy (accessed May 2, 2012). For free and reduced lunch counts, see “Free and Reduced Lunch Counts: District, Fall, School Year 2011-12,” (Center for Educational Performance and Information, 2012), http://goo.gl/NkBPI (accessed April 27, 2012).

6  For a complete list of courses offered at the OVA, see “Course Catalog 2012-2013,” (Oxford Virtual Academy, 2012), http://goo.gl/lgY58 (accessed April 27, 2012).

7  Skype is a computer program that allows videoconferencing on the Internet. 

Bob Dylan with student - click to enlarge