February 4, 2014

Contents of this issue:

  • Free Press: School spending up under Gov. Snyder
  • Grosse Pointe group opposes $50M bond
  • Districts behind on technology, according to MDE
  • EAA alternative proposed
  • National school choice week celebrated

Free Press: School Spending Up Under Gov. Snyder

LANSING, Mich. – The Detroit Free Press reports that state spending on K-12 education has increased during Gov. Rick Snyder’s tenure.

The Free Press reports, however, that teacher retirement costs are putting a financial burden on districts. John Nixon, state budget director, told the Free Press that those retirement costs have increased in recent years, thanks to market losses and an early retirement offer made to teachers in 2010.
A spokesman for Mark Schauer, the Democratic candidate for governor, told the Free Press that Gov. Snyder should have to answer for decreases in federal funding for schools.

“It’s preposterous…to claim it’s ‘unfair’ to criticize Snyder for not having control over elapsing [federal] funding,” spokesman Zack Pohl told the Free Press. “He’s the governor, and it was his budget he signed into law.”

SOURCES: Detroit Free Press,“Analysis: More money for Michigan’s schools, but not for its classrooms,” Feb. 2, 2014

FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential,“Pension Costs Mean Tighter Budgets For Classrooms, Taxpayers," Jan. 29, 2014

Grosse Pointe Group Opposes $50M Bond

GROSSE POINTE, Mich. – A group of Grosse Pointe community members is opposing a $50 million bond put forward by the Grosse Pointe school district, according to Grosse Pointe News.

The group, called Residents for Responsible Spending, says that the spending proposed by the district is irresponsible, the Grosse Pointe News reports.

Brendan Walsh, a former Grosse Pointe school board member and member of RRS, told the Grosse Pointe News that part of the bond includes $17 million for tablet or laptop computers for students.

“The district does not appear to have a plan for the use of these devices,” he told the Grosse Pointe News. “The bond allocates $1,200 per device, and to give out 8,500 iPads without a plan just doesn’t make sense.”

SOURCE: Grosse Pointe News,“Group opposes bond question,” Jan. 30, 2014

FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential,“School Districts Spend Tens of Thousands on Losing Millage Requests," July 23, 2013

Some Districts Behind on Technology, According to MDE

DETROIT – More than 80 percent of Michigan districts have met the minimum state technology requirements to offer online assessments, according to The Detroit News.

In 2015, Michigan will offer online assessments for students in grades 3-8 and 11, The News reports. Some state officials, noting that 62 percent of districts meet the state recommended requirements for online testing, say that some schools will not be ready for online testing in 2015, according to The News.
Districts are asking taxpayers for long-term bonds to pay for technology costs, The News reports. Grosse Pointe is asking for $50 million (see “Grosse Pointe group opposes $50M bond” above), according to The News, and Plymouth-Canton is asking for $114.4 million.

SOURCE: Detroit News,“Some Michigan school districts not ready for shift to online tests,” Jan. 30, 2014

FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential,“Legislators Chip Away at Proposal A Property Tax Limits,” March 2, 2013

EAA Alternative Proposed

LANSING, Mich. – Rep Ellen Cogen Lipton, D-Huntington Woods, has proposed an alternative to the statewide Education Achievement Authority, according to MLive.
MLive reports that Lipton’s bill would require schools identified as failing – those ranked by the state among the bottom 5 percent of Michigan schools – to develop a “transformation plan,” in coordination with the state school reform office.

If those schools managed to operate for three consecutive years without being ranked among the bottom 5 percent, they would be released from that obligation, according to MLive.

SOURCE: MLive,“EAA alternative? Struggling public schools would be overseen by ISDs in legislative proposal,” Jan. 29, 2014

FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest,“EAA could add nine more schools,” Dec 17, 2013

National School Choice Week Celebrated

COLDWATER, Mich. – National School Choice Week was celebrated last week, according to the Daily Reporter.

The week highlights all forms of educational choice, including public charter schools, district choice, online learning, homeschooling and private school choice, the Daily Reporter reports.
According to the Daily Reporter, Coldwater-area schools offer several forms of educational choice. The Daily Reporter reports that Pansophia Academy offers choice as a public charter school, while two nearby private schools offer private school choice.

Homeschooling is also an option exercised by Coldwater-area parents, according to the Daily Reporter. Classic Conversions, a Christian homeschool program, has a campus in Marshall, the Daily Reporter reports.

“Michigan families know that when parents have the freedom to choose the best schools for their children, great things happen,” Andrew Campanella, president of National School Choice Week, told the Daily Reporter.

SOURCE: The Daily Reporter,“School of choice week,” Jan. 30, 2014

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy,“Happy National School Choice Week,” Jan. 29, 2014