June 25, 2013

Contents of this issue:

  • School dissolution bills head to governor 
  • DPS predicts enrollment increase
  • Year-round schedule works for Jackson school
  • Pontiac residents will slowly pay MESSA tax
  • Small turnout at anti-choice rally

School Dissolution Bills Head to Governor

LANSING, Mich. – Bills that would allow financially struggling school districts to be resolved were passed by the Michigan House and are now headed to the governor, according to Michigan Radio.

Michigan Radio reports that the first two school districts to be affected would be the Inkster and Buena Vista school districts. According to Michigan Radio, both get higher-than-average per-student funding, and neither district has enough cash to open in the fall.
SOURCE: Michigan Radio, “Buena Vista, Inkster schools could be dissolved under bills headed to governor,” June 21, 2013
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Close Dysfunctional Schools," May 13, 2013

DPS Predicts Enrollment Increase

DETROIT – In its proposed budget, Detroit Public Schools predicts that enrollment will increase by 5,000 students, according to The Detroit News.

DPS emergency manager Roy Roberts told The News that the district will conduct an “unprecedented, aggressive” summer campaign to bring in more students.
Kurt Metzger, a Detroit-area demographer, disagreed, telling The News that “You have to be realistic when you make your budgetary plans.”
“ … I would be very careful,” Metzger told The News. “You are picking the numbers that are 10 percent above the projections.”
The News reports that the budget also includes eliminating 665 positions and cutting spending by about $87 million.
SOURCE: The Detroit News, “Detroit Public Schools: Enrollment skid to slow,” June 20, 2013 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “More Michigan Students Opt for School Choice,” Jan. 22, 2013

Year-Round Schedule Works for Jackson School

JACKSON, Mich. – For the past two years at Jackson’s Hunt Elementary School, students have been attending year-round, according to MLive.

“The biggest misconception is that we go to school longer,” Principal Mary Jo Raczkowski-Shannon told MLive. “We don’t; We go the same exact days as all the other JPS schools, but we just spread our breaks out.”
With the year-round schedule, teacher absences and student absences have declined, MLive reports. Raczkowski-Shannon told MLive that there were 402 fewer disciplinary situations this year than last year.
SOURCE: MLive, “Jackson’s Hunt Elementary School closes books on second year of year-round schedule,” June 22, 2013
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “District Considering Year-Round Schooling,” May 17, 2012

Pontiac Residents Will Slowly Pay MESSA Tax

PONTIAC, Mich. – Oakland Circuit Judge Martha Anderson ruled on Friday that Pontiac School District taxpayers will pay $8 million owed to the Michigan Education Special Services Association over 10 years, instead of just in a single year, The Detroit News reports.

MESSA is an insurance provider affiliated with the Michigan Education Association, according to The News.
“Judge Anderson recognized the burden this imposed on the taxpayers in the Pontiac School District and found an equitable solution – spread the payments out over 10 years,” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said, The News reports.
SOURCE: The Detroit News, “Court rules Pontiac Schools’ $8M tax bill to be paid over 10 years,” June 21, 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

Small Turnout at Anti-Choice Rally

LANSING, Mich. – Approximately 500 people showed up at a rally outside the Capitol to protest recent school reform measures, according to Michigan Capitol Confidential. Michigan Capitol Confidential is a news service provided by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

The 500 fell far short of the “huge” turnout predicted by a popular liberal blog, despite notices being sent to 8,000 teachers and public education supports, Michigan Capitol Confidential reports.
Rally speakers, which included state Democrats such as State Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, State Sen. Bert Johnson and State Rep. Brandon Dillon, spoke against the expansion of public charter schools in the state, according to Michigan Capitol Confidential.
Most of the people attending the rally were teachers who were off for summer vacation, Michigan Capitol Confidential reports.
SOURCE: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Anti-School Choice Education Rally Fizzles,” June 20, 2013
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Michigan Charter Schools a Smashing Success, Jan. 15, 2013