December 17, 2013

Contents of this issue:

  • Detroit and Flint have top charter enrollment in U.S.
  • Southwest Michigan districts take different approach on school choice
  • Number of districts in deficit declines
  • EAA could add nine more schools
  • Legislation passes to limit surprise school tax increases
  • Special Alert: VoteSpotter App Joins the Mackinac Center Family of Apps

Detroit and Flint Have Top Charter Enrollment in U.S.

DETROIT – Detroit public charter schools enroll more than half of Detroit resident students, according to The Detroit News. Both Detroit and Flint are among the top-ranked cities for charter enrollment, MLive reports. In Flint, according to MLive, 36 percent of resident students are enrolled in public charter schools.

The News reports that charter schools are the fastest-growing portion of public education in the U.S. According to The News, approximately 5 percent of U.S. students in 42 states attend public charter schools.
“Charter schools have more oversight and accountability than any other public schools, and the ultimate accountability is to parents,” Dan Quisenberry, president of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies,” told The News.

SOURCES: Detroit News,“More Detroit students attend charter schools than traditional public schools,” Dec. 10, 2013

FURTHER READING: MLive,“Flint has fourth-highest charter school enrollment in the nation, study says,” Dec. 14, 2013; Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Almost 220,000 Michigan Public School Students Rely on School Choice," Dec. 4, 2013

Southwest Michigan Districts Take Different Approach on School Choice

STURGIS, Mich. – Some school districts in southwest Michigan use Schools of Choice to attract students, while others try to avoid it, according to the Sturgis Journal.

The Journal reports that White Pigeon Community Schools promotes itself as “Your School of Choice.” White Pigeon Superintendent Ron Drzewicki told the Sturgis Journal that “the purpose of marketing is to let our families, and prospective families, know that we offer a quality education and value every child.”

Colon Community Schools, the Sturgis Journal reports, takes the opposite approach. “Colon schools are part of a cooperative of nine local districts, which all agreed to not market to one another’s families,” Interim Superintendent Jay Newman told the Sturgis Journal.

Colon, Newman told the Sturgis Journal, does try to attract back students who left using schools of choice.

SOURCE: Sturgis Journal,“Schools compete for student numbers,” Dec. 14, 2013

FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential,“School Choice Benefits Students,” Feb. 4, 2013

Number of Districts in Deficit Declines

LANSING, Mich. – At the end of the 2012-13 fiscal year, 50 school districts or public charter schools were in deficit, according to MLive.

MLive reports that 12 districts that began the year with an overspending crisis reined in their spending by the end of the year.
According to MLive, the Pontiac school district has one of the most egregious deficits. MLive reports that the district is spending 88 percent more money than it takes in and might not be able to comply with its consent agreement with the state to reduce its deficit.

SOURCE: MLive,“50 Michigan school districts ended 2012-2013 fiscal year in deficit,” Dec. 12, 2013

FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential,“Number of Michigan School Districts In Deficit Not Increasing,” Dec. 16, 2013

EAA Could Add Nine More Schools, but Legislation Stalled

LANSING, Mich. – The Detroit News reports that nine more schools could be added to the state reform district in January 2014. The News reports that state officials are reviewing which schools should be added to the reform district, known as the Education Achievement Authority.
The possible addition of schools comes alongside a stalled push to pass legislation to codify the EAA in state law, according to The News.

The News reported on Dec. 12 that the legislation has slowed.

The Tri-County Public Education Alliance, a group of southeastern superintendents, suggested in a mass email that the EAA would not be accountable, according to The News. “Whose school is next,” the email said, The News reports. “Nobody knows, but we certainly do not want it to be yours.”

SOURCE: The Detroit News,“Michigan will add up to 9 schools to EAA, state superintendent says,” Dec. 10, 2013

FURTHER READING: The Detroit News,“EAA expansion bill stalls in Michigan House,” Dec. 12, 2013; Mackinac Center for Public Policy,“EAA Bill Has Problems: But Grand Rapids carve-out not one of them,” March 22, 2013

Legislation Passes to Limit Surprise School Tax Increases

LANSING, Mich. – In response to a surprise tax increase for Pontiac school district property owners, the Michigan Legislature passed a bill to require vendors to notify state and school officials of overdue bills, according to The Detroit News.

The News reports that the Michigan Education Special Services Association, a union-affiliated health insurance underwriter, sued to have an $8 million overdue bill added to Pontiac property owners’ tax bills.
The News reports that a 0.37-mill property tax was added to pay off the MESSA debt, and will continue for 10 years.

SOURCE: The Detroit News,“EAA expansion bill stalls in Michigan House,” Dec. 12, 2013

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy,“In Pontiac, MEA Local Raises $12K For School Supplies While Union Health Insurance Arm Sues District for $7.8 Million,” March 11, 2013

Special Alert: VoteSpotter App Joins the Mackinac Center Family of Apps

Imagine an easy and convenient way to get notified of important education votes your state legislators make. Imagine an easy and convenient way to alert your legislator about your agreement or disagreement with those votes. Coming this December, you won't have to imagine it. The VoteSpotter app alerts you of important votes which take place and enables you to tell you legislator — within just a couple taps of your screen. See more here.