April 22, 2014

Contents of this issue:

  • Ann Arbor accepts more than 400 Schools of Choice students
  • Livonia puts two tax increases on ballot
  • Livonia to accept Schools of Choice students this fall
  • Midland Robotics team competing in worldwide competition
  • FBI investigating phishers who targeted Caledonia

Ann Arbor Accepts More Than 400 Schools of Choice Students

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Ann Arbor Public Schools has approved the applications of 427 nonresident students to attend the district this fall, according to MLive.

Those students, MLive reports, could bring in nearly $4 million in new revenue for the district. 

The district spent more than $50,000 to market that it was open to nonresident students, according to MLive.

“The charter schools were established because it was felt that by creating an alternative to public schools and giving parents a choice it would create a more competitive environment and it would drive public schools to improve and give parents an alternative,” Trustee Andy Thomas told MLive.

“Like it or not, charter schools are here and we need to be competitive.”

SOURCE: MLive, “Ann Arbor Public Schools attracts 691 potential new students toward ‘breakthrough year,’” April 17, 2014 

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “More Michigan Students Opt for School Choice,” Jan. 22, 2013

Livonia Puts Two Tax Increases on Ballot

LIVONIA, Mich. – Livonia taxpayers on Aug. 5 will consider two tax increases for Livonia Public Schools, according to the Observer & Eccentric.

The first would be to renew a 1.12 mill tax on all properties – including homes – that is set to expire, the Observer & Eccentric reports. 

The second would be to renew the district’s 18-mill non-homestead property tax, according to the Observer & Eccentric. Though the state caps such levies at 18 mills, Livonia is asking taxpayers to authorize a 18.4568 mill levy in order to protect the district’s revenues if the 18 mills amount is reduced.

SOURCE: The Observer & Eccentric, “Livonia school board to place two proposals on August ballot,” April 18, 2014 

FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Districts Asking for More Money Already Getting It," Feb. 12, 2014 

Livonia to Accept Schools of Choice Students This Fall

LIVONIA, Mich. – Livonia Public Schools will be accepting nonresident students through Schools of Choice this fall, according to the Observer & Eccentric.    

The district will open 60 seats for nonresident students in grades K through sixth, the Observer & Eccentric reports, and could bring the district nearly $500,000 in additional revenue.

According to the Observer & Eccentric, Livonia’s enrollment has been declining by about 300 students per year, meaning that an influx of 60 new nonresident students will slow the decline, but that the district will not see a net enrollment increase.

Livonia Trustee Randy Roulier said, according to the Observer & Eccentric, that “Frankly for me, this is a financial decision, pure and simple.” Roulier said that SOC was an opportunity for the district to receive “a sizable chunk of money” without additional cost, the Observer & Eccentric reports.

SOURCE: The Observer & Eccentric, “Livonia Public Schools approves pilot Schools of Choice program,” April 15, 2014 

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “School Choice Benefits Students," Feb. 4, 2013 

Midland Robotics Team Competing in Worldwide Competition

MIDLAND, Mich. – The Midland Public Schools’ robotics team will be competing in a global robotics championship, according to the Midland Daily News. MPS’ team finished among the top 12 percent of Michigan robotics teams in the 2014 state competition, the News reports.

The Midland robotics team has competed for seven consecutive seasons, according to the News, and will be attending the world championship for the third time this year.

Gov. Rick Snyder visited the state competition, the News reports, to tout the fact that Michigan has the most robotics teams in the country. A large number of new robotics teams were started this year, the News reports.

SOURCE: Midland Daily News, “Midland Robotics Team in World Championship,” April 19, 2014 

FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “Crystal Falls students to compete in robotics championship, April 17, 2012 

FBI Investigating Phishers Who Targeted Caledonia

CALEDONIA, Mich. – Hackers attempted to steal more than $160,000 from Caledonia Public Schools, according to WZZM 13.

WZZM 13 reports that hackers used Caledonia Finance Director Sara Devries’ email address to send emails to an accounts payable clerk, directing the clerk to transfer funds to a bank in Florida. 

Devries did not send the email, and soon after confronted the accounts payable clerk regarding the suspicious transfer, according to WZZM 13.

Caledonia was able to cancel the transfer after Devries discovered it, WZZM 13 reports. 

“We did not lose any money at all,” Caledonia Superintendent Randy Rodriguez told WZZM 13. “Before anything goes out, the bank contacts us to make sure it was a legitimate wire.”

Since the scam involved both Michigan and Florida, the FBI will be investigating further, according to WZZM 13.

SOURCE: WZZM 13, “Scammers nearly cheat Caledonia Schools out of $163K,” April 16, 2014 

FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Sunshine Week 2010: Several Kent County Schools Now Posting Checkbooks Online,” March 18, 2010