Contents of this issue:

  • GP enforces residency by staking out homes, asking to see bedrooms 
  • Buena Vista board member: ‘We’re not teaching these children’
  • Parents collect more than 200 signatures to oust principal
  • Timing of MESSA’s hit to Pontiac property taxpayers uncertain
  • Ann Arbor school board fails to balance budget

GP Enforces Residency by Watching Homes, Asking to See Bedrooms

GROSSE POINTE, Mich. – Grosse Pointe Assistant Superintendent Chris Fenton told Bridge Magazine that he has gone to extreme measures to make sure that students who do not live in the district do not go to Grosse Pointe schools.

Fenton told Bridge that he has staked out homes on early mornings to see if suspected nonresident students actually live there, and has even asked to see children’s bedrooms as proof.
According to Bridge, Grosse Pointe pays private investigators about $8,000 each year to investigate students. Bridge reports that the district investigates 100 to 200 students per year, and forces between 40 and 60 to leave.
SOURCE: Bridge Magazine, “Fortress Grosse Pointe: In world of school choice, community says ‘stay out,’” June 16, 2013
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Grosse Point’s Costly Nonresident Crackdown," Sept. 14, 2012

Buena Vista board member: ‘We’re not teaching these children’

BUENA VISTA, Mich. – Buena Vista school board member Frances Hayes told MLive that “We’re not teaching these children in Buena Vista.” Hayes told MLive that the district’s MEAP scores are very low, and that parents with the ability to leave the school district have taken their children elsewhere.

Hayes spoke with MLive regarding the news that the Michigan House had approved legislation that would allow state officials to dissolve struggling school districts.
“I think they’re going to close the district and this way they can do it legally,” she told MLive.
SOURCE: MLive, “Buena Vista school official reacts to House vote: ‘I think they’re going to close the district,’” June 14, 2013 
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Close Dysfunctional Schools,” May 16, 2013

Parents Collect More Than 200 Signatures to Oust Principal

MAYVILLE, Mich. – A group of Mayville parents has collected more than 200 signatures to protest the appointment of Christopher Kidd as the principal of Mayville High School/Middle School, according to Tuscola Today. Kidd was previously the principal of the high school, Tuscola Today reports.

The parents are accusing Kidd of being a “bully,” Tuscola Today reports. “Several people have complained...," said Tamera Blackwell, according to Tuscola Today. “At this point we feel it needs to go farther, because nothing seems to change and this is not getting better.”
Another parent, Tuscola Today reports, suggested that enrollment would drop if the board did not reverse its decision.
School Board Member Richard Horsch defended Kidd by pointing to the Michigan Department of Education’s ranking of the high school, which scored highly.
SOURCE: Tuscola Today, “Parents address Mayville school board with concerns about principal,” June 15, 2013
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Complaints About ‘Parent Trigger’ Miss the Mark,” Oct. 2, 2012

Timing of MESSA’s Hit to Pontiac Property Taxpayers Uncertain

PONTIAC, Mich. – Officials still not have resolved Pontiac residents’ tax bills, according to The Oakland Press. At issue, The Press reports, is how quickly taxpayers will be hit to pay for the Pontiac school district’s settlement with the Michigan Education Special Services Association, a union-affiliated insurance provider.

The district settled with MESSA for $7.8 million, and a judge ordered that a 3-mill tax be levied to pay off the debt, according to The Press. Previously it was thought, The Press reports, that the debt would be paid with a large tax this year.
However, chief legal counsel for the Michigan Attorney General’s office formally recommended that the bill be paid over 10 years, according to The Press. The attorney for MESSA disagrees, The Press reports.
A meeting of Oakland County officials and community representatives to discuss the issue is planned for Tuesday, according to The Press.
SOURCE: The Oakland Press, “Attorney says spreading Pontiac school tax would up property owners’ debt,” June 11, 2013
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “In Pontiac, MEA Local Raises $12K For School Supplies While Union Health Insurance Arm Sues District for $7.8 Million,” March 11, 2013

Ann Arbor School Board Fails to Balance Budget

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The Ann Arbor School Board voted to approve its 2013-14 budget using $1.18 million in reserve funds, rather than correct for the full amount of $8.7 million in overspending, according to reports that officials estimate at the end of the 2013-14 school year the Ann Arbor district will have just $5.69 remaining in reserves, a bit more than 3 percent of operating expenses. The board chose not to cut busing for high school students and will charge high school students $100 per semester for those who want to take a seventh hour, reported.
School board Vice President Christine Stead voted against the budget, telling that “…this whole thing is irresponsible.”
“I recognize that people here believe we have endless amounts of fund equity,” she told, “…but if we’re using it up every time we have an overage in the future we’re going to have to pass a balanced budget without it.”
SOURCE:, “Ann Arbor school board saves high school busing, reading intervention in harried budget decision,” June 13, 2013
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Count Update: 145 School Districts Have Deals That Dodge Right-to-Work, May 28, 2013