March 18, 2014

Contents of this issue:

  • District contracts could be in violation of state law
  • Proposed Muskegon charter school sees strong community support
  • EAA spends less than expected, approves $2M for STEM program
  • DPS looks to sell 80 school buildings
  • Dearborn sees test scores rise, plans to accept advertising 

District Contracts Could be in Violation of State Law

LANSING, Mich. – More than half of Michigan school districts could be operating under a collective bargaining agreement that contains language prohibited by state law, according to WOOD Radio.

WOOD Radio reports that the Mackinac Center surveyed 130 school district collective bargaining agreements and found that 60 percent of them contained prohibited language. The Mackinac Center publishes Michigan Education Digest.
These contracts may violate a state law passed in 2011 that prohibited teacher unions and their districts from negotiating over teacher placement and evaluation, among other things, according to WOOD Radio.
WOOD Radio reports that the Center is recommending legislators add stiff penalties for districts found to be in violation of the law.

SOURCE: WOOD Radio, Many Schools In Michigan Could Be Breaking The Law,” March 10, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “’Super Seniority’ For Union Officials, Other Clauses In School Contracts Prohibited By Law,” March 6, 2014  

Proposed Muskegon Charter School Sees Strong Community Support

MUSKEGON, Mich. – Covenant House Michigan, a charter school operator, is receiving strong support to open a charter public school in Muskegon to serve at-risk students, according to MLive.

Muskegon Area Intermediate School District Superintendent Dave Sipka told MLive that what Covenant House is proposing would be a "nice addition to the educational offerings in the Muskegon area.”
Last year, Covenant House opened a similar charter public school in Grand Rapids with an initial enrollment of 35 students, MLive reports. Within four months, the school’s enrollment had quadrupled, MLive reports.
Reeths-Puffer Schools Superintendent Steve Edwards told MLive that he will support any school that is able to accomplish what others have not.
“Frankly, if there’s an organization that can do a better job than us at getting kids who have left school back into school, I’ll welcome them in,” he told MLive.

SOURCE: MLive, “Covenant House Academy moving forward with plans for Muskegon charter school,” March 14, 2014 

FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “Charter school for at-risk students might open in Muskegon," Jan. 28, 2012

EAA Spends Less Than Expected, Approves $2M For STEM Program

DETROIT – The statewide Education Achievement Authority is spending far less than expected, according to The Detroit News. The EAA budgeted $166 million in expenses for the year, and has so far only spent $51.9 million, The News reports.

At the latest EAA board meeting, the board approved spending $2 million to expand science, technology, engineering and math offerings, according to The News, and another $1.8 million to purchase 3,000 laptops. 
However, the EAA is facing criticism from the State Board of Education, according to The News. Two additional board members have come out against the statewide district, alleging that the EAA’s performance is poor, The News reports.

SOURCE: The Detroit News, “EAA board approves $2M plan for math, science labs at 7 schools,” March 13, 2014 

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Teachers Union Pushes Districts To Boycott Some University Students Over Politics," Nov. 8, 2013 

DPS Looks to Sell 80 School Buildings

DETROIT – Detroit Public Schools is looking to sell 80 schools and 40 vacant lots, CBS 62 reports. There is also an associated $5 million in financing being offered for proposed development projects on former school property, according to CBS 62.

The Detroit Local Initiative Support Corporation is offering the money, CBS 62 reports. Executive Director Taheara Zigler told CBS 62 that the money can be used to “pay for things like redevelopment, acquisition and construction…”
The campaign to sell unused DPS school buildings and land is called “Old School, New Uses,” CBS 62 reports.

SOURCE: CBS 62, “80 Schools, 40 Vacant Lots Up For Sale In Detroit,” March 13 2014
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “DPS willing to sell to charter operators, Oct. 5, 2010

Dearborn Sees Test Scores Rise, Plans to Accept Advertising

DEARBORN, Mich. – Dearborn student test scores on the state MEAP exam are up in more than 75 percent of the tested categories, according to the (Dearborn) Press & Guide.

Dearborn students also posted higher-than-average scores the MEAP mathematics test, compared to both the state and county, the Press & Guide reports.
The district is also considering selling advertisements on school-related material, according to the Press & Guide. Districts, the Press & Guide reports, have done things such as including company advertisements on snow alert phone calls, or charge for banners at football games.
The district is hiring a part-time staff member to help with this move toward advertising, the Press & Guide reports, but is also setting limits to what advertisements it will sell.
SOURCE: (Dearborn) Press & Guide, “Dearborn schools MEAP scores keep improving,” March 15, 2014
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Breaking Bad: Dearborn Gives Four Problem Teachers $197K to Go Away,” July 7, 2011