Sept. 23, 2014

Contents of this issue:

  • Legislation calls for moratorium on charters
  • DPS $5 million behind on water bills
  • Grosse Pointe parents lose federal suit over school choice
  • Bill would shift new teachers to 401(k)
  • AAPS board can’t agree on Whitmore Lake annexation

Legislation Calls for Moratorium on Charters

LANSING, Mich. – Legislation announced Thursday by two Democratic state representatives would place a moratorium on the creation of any new charter public schools, according to MLive.

Rep. Sarah Roberts, D-St. Clair Shores, said charter operators should meet the “same transparency and accountability requirements as all other schools,” MLive reported.
Dan Quisenberry, president of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies, told MLive the legislation is “partisan and politically motivated.”
“With so many Michigan students stuck in failing schools, it’s sad and disheartening that anyone would want to take options away from parents,” he told MLive.

SOURCE: MLive, “West Michigan charter operator, lawmakers react to proposed moratorium on charter schools,” Sept. 18, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Flanagan Goes too Far on Charter Schools, Aug. 11, 2014 

DPS $5 Million Behind on Water Bills

DETROIT – Detroit Public Schools owed the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department as much as $10 million and is still $5 million in debt on its water bills, according to the Detroit Free Press.

That information was revealed last week during the city of Detroit’s federal bankruptcy hearings, the Free Press reported.
DPS has a self-created overspending crisis of $127 million.

SOURCE: Detroit Free Press, “Judge questions Detroit water department borrowing,” Sept. 17, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “No Horses, But Detroit Water Department Employs ‘Horseshoer,’” Aug. 20, 2012 

Grosse Pointe Parents Lose Federal Suit Over School Choice

GROSSE POINTE, Mich. – A lawsuit filed by a group of parents that sued Grosse Pointe Public Schools over which of the district’s two high schools their children were assigned to was dismissed by a federal judge last week, according to The Detroit News.

The families live in the portion of the district that assigns students to Grosse Pointe North High School, while they wanted to send their children to Grosse Pointe South High School, The News reported.
Federal Judge Patrick Duggan said there is “no constitutional right” for the students to choose to attend the other high school, The News reported.

SOURCE: The Detroit News, “Parents lose lawsuit over Grosse Pointe school map,” Sept. 16, 2014 

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Grosse Pointe State Rep: Public Schools Must Control ‘Who Is Allowed to Attend,’” Aug. 30, 2011 

Bill Would Shift New Teachers to 401(k)

LANSING, Mich. – Sen. Mark Jansen, R-Gaines Township, has introduced legislation to close the pension system to all new public school employees and put them in a defined-contribution plan instead, according to Michigan Radio.

Senate Bill 727 would update legislation passed in 2012 that gave new hires a choice between the two types of retirement plans, Michigan Radio reported.
“They’re looking for a way to reduce their expenses, and this would be my intent: put more into education of the kids in the classroom and less on the legacy cost,” Jansen told Michigan Radio. “This would be the ultimate reform, I think, in my mind, anyway. And it would bring us the stability, I think, in the education system that we really, truly need.”

SOURCE: Michigan Radio, “Legislation would force new Michigan teachers into a 401(k)-style plan,” Sept. 15, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Michigan Now Spending More on Teacher Retiree Liabilities Than Prisons," Sept. 15, 2013 

AAPS Board Can't Agree on Whitmore Lake Annexation

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Voters in the Ann Arbor and Whitmore Lake school districts will decide Nov. 4 whether or not to merge the two districts, but Ann Arbor Public Schools board members are not all in favor, according to MLive.

“I was opposed to it before when we voted, and I’m still opposed to it,” AAPS Trustee Susan Baskett told MLive. “There doesn’t seem to be much of a benefit to Ann Arbor children and their families.”
AAPS has about 17,000 students, while Whitmore Lake has about 1,000, MLive reported. If the merger is approved, Ann Arbor would receive about $100 more per student.

SOURCE: MLive, “Ann Arbor school board divided over Whitmore Lake annexation,” Sept. 21, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “School District Consolidation, Size and Spending: an Evaluation,” May 22, 2007