Contents of this issue:

  • Instead of making large-scale layoffs, DPS closes schools
  • Threshold Academy closure upsets parents, students
  • District ranked highly; enrolls more nonresident students
  • Flanagan might not have authority to penalize authorizers
  • Muskegon Heights charter district tries year-round classes

Instead of Making Large-Scale Layoffs, DPS Closes Schools

DETROIT –  Detroit Public Schools will close 24 buildings in order to avoid layoffs, MLive reports, and teachers are taking a 10 percent pay cut.

DPS is overspending by $127.1 million, MLive reports, down from $327 million in 2009. The 10 percent wage reduction will save the district $29.5 million, and closing 24 schools will save the district more than $9 million, according to MLive.
The Detroit Federation of Teachers opposes the cuts and told MLive that it will fight against them “in the streets, in the courts and at the ballot box.”
DPS Emergency Manager Jack Martin may be removed in September, according to MLive, because the DPS school board will then have the ability to remove him.

SOURCE: MLive, “Detroit school district chose pay cuts, school closures over layoffs,” Aug. 20, 2014 
FURTHER READING: For the Record, “Detroit Public Schools continues to overspend,” Aug. 20, 2014  

Threshold Academy Closure Upsets Parents, Students

LANSING, Mich. – Threshold Academy, a public charter school serving rural students in Ionia County, is being closed, according to Bridge Magazine, because the school has not met Central Michigan University’s standards for public charter schools. The school’s closure is upsetting parents and students, Bridge reports.

Threshold Academy Principal Victoria Simon told Bridge that the school’s test scores were improving annually. The issue, Simon told Bridge, is that Threshold serves a large population of disadvantaged students. More than 90 percent of Threshold students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch (a proxy for poverty), according to Bridge.
“CMU’s goal is to have them college ready,” Simon told Bridge. “Even having our kids graduate from high school is an American Dream.
“I think most of these children’s parents love them dearly,” Simon told Bridge, “but poverty does lead to neglect. They’re not being read to, they’re not being nurtured enough.”
Simon told Bridge that CMU is under pressure to improve academic results at the public charter schools it authorizes, but that CMU should have considered Threshold Academy’s student population. 

SOURCE: Bridge Magazine, “Charter school for rural poor authorized by Central Michigan University closes,” Aug. 13, 2014 

FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “Families trying to keep Threshold Academy open,” April 15, 2014 

District Ranked Highly; Enrolls More Nonresident Students

MEMPHIS, Mich. –Memphis Community Schools has received high rankings on the state’s Top-to-Bottom ranking of schools, the (Macomb & St. Clair) Voice reports.

According to the Voice, MCS’ high school was received a “reward” ranking from the state, meaning that the school’s students are posting better-than-expected academic results. MCS’ elementary school was ranked in the top 84 percent of Michigan schools, the Voice reports.
Both schools improved their rankings over the last year, according to the Voice.
Memphis participates in the state “Schools of Choice” program, and allows students who live outside of the district to enroll, the Voice reports. According to the Voice, 30 more nonresident students will be enrolling this year.

SOURCE: The (Macomb & St. Clair) Voice, “Memphis schools riding high on MDE scores,” Aug. 22, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “Step freeze, furlough agreed to in Memphis," Feb. 8, 2011 

Flanagan Might Not Have Authority to Penalize Authorizers

LANSING, Mich. – State Superintendent Mike Flanagan may not be able to penalize charter school authorizers, despite his claims to the contrary, the Lansing State Journal reports.

According to the Journal, Lansing attorney Richard McLellan believes that the Michigan Department of Education must go through a time-intensive rule-making process before Flanagan can penalize authorizers. McLellan is a member of the board of directors of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which publishes Michigan Education Digest.
Authorizers could challenge penalties in court, the Journal reports.
Flanagan has threatened to block some authorizers from opening new schools, according to the Journal. 

SOURCE: Lansing State Journal, “Memo raises questions about state’s plan on charter authorizations,” Aug. 22, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Flanagan Goes too Far on Charter Schools, Aug. 11, 2014 

Muskegon Heights Charter District Tries Year-Round Classes

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. – The Muskegon Heights public charter school district is switching to year-round classes, WZZM TV-13 reports.

According to WZZM, Muskegon Heights is one of four districts receiving state grant money to pilot a year-round calendar. The district hopes that the year-round calendar will help stop students from falling behind over the summer, WZZM reports.
Muskegon Heights students will have a four-week summer break, with other shorter breaks throughout the year, according to WZZM.

SOURCE: WZZM 13, “Muskegon Heights schools ready for year-round calendar,” Aug. 22, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “Ypsilanti district pilots longer school calendar,” Aug. 12, 2014