August 12, 2014

Contents of this issue:

  • Ypsilanti district pilots longer school calendar
  • $20K grant available for Catholic school graduates 
  • Flint school board makes layoffs
  • Redford Union opens online public charter school
  • Northern districts grapple with enrollment decline

Ypsilanti District Pilots Longer School Calendar

YPSILANTI, Mich. – Students at Ypsilanti Community Schools’ Holmes Elementary are piloting a longer school year, according to MLive.

Holmes students started school on Aug. 11, with a “balanced calendar” that spreads out days off throughout the year, MLive reports. Depending on student and parent response, Ypsilanti may offer a balanced calendar at other school buildings.
“We want to make sure that there’s interest and that it’s successful and that it fits the needs of all of our students,” Superintendent Laura Lisiscki told MLive.
Holmes is receiving a $146,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Education as part of its balanced calendar pilot, according to MLive. The money will be used primarily for air conditioning upgrades, MLive reports.

SOURCE: MLive, “Year-round school? Ypsilanti schools considering expanding use of balanced calendar,” Aug. 9, 2014
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “August Opt-Out,” Aug. 1, 2014

$20K Grant Available for Catholic School Graduates 

DETROIT – The Archdiocese of Detroit and the University of Detroit Mercy are partnering to offer scholarships for graduates of Catholic schools, according to The Michigan Catholic.

Students who have attended an Archdiocese of Detroit Catholic school for all 12 years of their education will receive $20,000 to attend University of Detroit Mercy, The Michigan Catholic reports. Students who have attended four years at an Archdiocese of Detroit Catholic high school will receive $10,000, according to The Michigan Catholic.
The partnership is designed to help parents who struggle with the cost of Catholic education, the Michigan Catholic reports.
“…parents are willing to seek Catholic formation and a solid elementary foundation for their children,” Brian Dougherty, superintendent of the Archdiocese of Detroit’s Office of Catholic Schools, told The Michigan Catholic. “…but when preparing for the expenses of colleges and universities, they move to either public or charter [schools].”

SOURCE: The Michigan Catholic, “UDM to offer up to $20K for Catholic school grads,” Aug. 8, 2014

FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “Private schools cope with weak economy,” May 26, 2010

Flint School Board Makes Layoffs and Rehires

FLINT, Mich. – The Flint School District is making more layoffs in order to cut costs, but several laid-off employees will be rehired by an outsourced company, according to MLive.

MLive reports that federal Title I dollars are expiring, which is driving the layoff shuffle.
“It looks to me like we’re just changing the roles and I’m looking at the same people,” Flint board member Harold Woodson said, according to MLive.
Three existing Flint employees will be moved to fill the work that seven employees previously did, MLive reports.

SOURCE: MLive, “Flint schools approve layoffs, new hires as part of staff restructuring,” Aug. 6, 2014
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “How to Fix Flint Schools," Oct. 8, 2010

Redford Union Opens Online Public Charter School

REDFORD, Mich. – The Redford Union School District is authorizing a new online public charter school, the Observer & Eccentric reports.

The school, Regents Academy, will be able to enroll students throughout the state, according to the Observer & Eccentric. The conventional district will receive a small portion of state funding for each student who enrolls in the new online charter school.
The district hopes that the new school will provide more options for students, and bring more money to the district, Redford Union Superintendent Ron Stoneman told the Observer & Eccentric.

SOURCE: The Observer & Eccentric, “RU authorizes cyber charter school,” August 10, 2014 

FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “School District With Continual Deficits Still Handing Out Raises, July 19, 2012

Northern Districts Grapple With Enrollment Decline

PETOSKEY, Mich. – Northern Michigan school districts are finding creative ways to cut costs in response to enrollment declines, the Petoskey News reports.

The Petoskey News reports that nonresident district choice has resulted in some small districts seeing enrollment declines of as much as 50 percent in recent years.
Instead of consolidating, smaller districts are trimming administrative costs and combining programs, according to the Petoskey News.
Alanson Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Liedel eliminated his own job and is taking a combined principal/superintendent position, the Petoskey News reports. The district pays intermediate school district staff to manage bookkeeping, and consolidated athletics programs, according to the Petoskey News.
Though student enrollment has dropped by 11 percent since 2003-04, the Petoskey News reports, enrollment in the Charlevoix-Emmet ISD has dropped by 17 percent during that time.
In order to combat population and enrollment decline, northern school districts are also partnering with the private sector, according to the Petoskey News. The Boyne City school district, for example, has partnered with area companies to build a machine shop at Boyne City high school to train future potential workers.
“These small school districts…they have a lot of pride in their school and they don’t necessarily want to combine with another school,” Liedel told the Petoskey News.

SOURCE: The Petoskey News, “Educators, economic leaders respond to alarming declines in school enrollment,” Aug. 7, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “In Their Own Words: Calumet High School,” July 2, 2013