Contents of this issue:
Court seals data on school employees with criminal backgrounds
New Detroit high school has structural problems
AFT: Average Michigan teacher salary in top five nationally
Lansing school district won't sell empty building to charter
Planning helps school district avoid budget problem
Union e-mail targets community panel
School administrators question graduation requirements
COURT SEALS DATA ON SCHOOL EMPLOYEES WITH CRIMINAL BACKGROUNDS
LANSING, Mich. — An Ingham County circuit court judge Monday
granted a temporary order barring the Michigan Department of
Education from releasing the names of public school employees who
have criminal backgrounds, according to The Detroit News. The
Michigan Education Association requested the order.
A State Police database search in early January revealed that
employees currently working in public schools have been convicted
of 4,600 crimes, of which 100 were sex offenses and 2,200 were
felonies, The News reported. The News on Jan. 23 filed a Freedom
of Information request with the Department of Education
requesting the names, job titles and school districts of the
Margaret Trimer-Hartley, spokeswoman for the union, said the MEA
does not want the information made public because the database
search was done using the names and dates of birth for school
employees, according to The News. Trimer-Hartley said fingerprint
checks are most accurate, The News reported.
"I just think it's reasonable in our mind to make sure that
anything that gets released to the public is correct," Trimer-Hartley told The News.
Dawn Hertz, general counsel for the Michigan Press Association,
told The News: "The Michigan Supreme Court has already ruled:
Anything having to do with public employees is not personal."
Yet to be determined is whether the Department of Education can
release the information to individual school districts, according
to The News. Districts were to receive that information this
A Feb. 10 hearing is scheduled to determine if the order will be
permanent, The News reported.
The Detroit News, "School workers' files sealed," Jan. 31, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "School employee background check
turns up felons," Jan. 24, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "High cost of fingerprinting school
employees," Dec. 6, 2005
Michigan Education Digest, "Granholm signs student safety bills,"
Oct. 4, 2005
, "2005 House Bill 4928 ("School Safety" package)"
NEW DETROIT HIGH SCHOOL HAS STRUCTURAL PROBLEMS
DETROIT — A Detroit high school with the third-highest
construction cost in the nation is in need of repairs, according
to the Detroit Free Press. Cass Technical High School cost $127
million to build and opened last August.
The roof leaks, the heating and cooling system requires 24-hour
attention from engineers and both the football field and printing
shop are unusable at Cass Tech, the Free Press reported.
Mark Schrupp, deputy chief of facilities for Detroit Public
Schools, told the Free Press that first-year problems are to be
expected in new construction, and that contractors are being held
accountable for fixing those problems.
"We're not releasing final payments until we've got every issue
resolved," he told the newspaper.
The Free Press also reported that trash cans sit beneath
emergency wash basins in science labs because the plumbing has
not been connected, gas valves that are supposed to be behind
glass are uncovered and software has yet to be loaded on to
computers in the computer-assisted drafting room.
Belmont High School in Los Angeles and another DPS school,
Detroit School of the Arts, rank ahead of Cass Tech in
construction costs, according to the Free Press. Detroit School
of the Arts cost $130 million and also opened last year. In
contrast, new high schools have opened in the last few years in
Plymouth and Saline costing $54 million and $89 million,
Detroit Free Press, "Pricey new Cass Tech already needs fixes,"
Jan. 25, 2006
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Michigan's Prevailing Wage Law
Forces Schools to Waste Money," Nov. 9, 2001
Michigan Education Digest, "New Ann Arbor high school $3 million
over budget," Dec. 13, 2005
Michigan Education Report, "Innovative construction saves charter
school time, money," Aug. 18, 2004
Michigan Education Report, "Is there a better way to finance and
build new schools?" April 16, 1999
AFT: AVERAGE MICHIGAN TEACHER SALARY IN TOP FIVE NATIONALLY
NEW YORK — A second study by a major teachers union shows
Michigan teachers are paid in the top five nationally.
The "Survey and Analysis of Teacher Salary Trends 2004," released
by the American Federation of Teachers, shows Michigan educators
were paid an average of $54,474 in 2004, placing them behind
teachers in Connecticut, California, Rhode Island and New York. A
December study from the National Education Association said
Michigan teachers rank fourth in the nation, with an annual
average salary of $55,503 in 2004 and $56,973 in 2005.
The AFT study ranked Michigan first in teacher salary within the
Great Lakes region, and second, at $34,377, in average starting
Michigan ranked ninth nationally in comparing average teacher
salaries against the average private sector income, the report
said. The state's $54,474 average for educators is 138 percent of
the average annual private sector income of $39,484. Nationally,
the average teacher's salary of $46,597 is 123 percent of the
private sector average income of $37,765.
American Federation of Teachers, "Survey and Analysis of Teacher
Salary Trends 2004," January 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "NEA study: Michigan teachers paid above national average," Dec. 20, 2005https://www.educationreport.org/7495
Michigan Education Report, "Teacher Pay and Teacher Quality: How Do They Relate?" April 16, 1999https://www.educationreport.org/1681
Michigan Education Report, "Increase teachers' pay the right way," Sept. 13, 2000 https://www.educationreport.org/3084
LANSING SCHOOL DISTRICT WON'T SELL EMPTY BUILDING TO CHARTER
LANSING, Mich. — The Lansing School District is refusing to sell
a vacant building to a local charter school, according to City
Pulse, a weekly Lansing-area publication.
The Lansing district last year closed five schools to help
eliminate a $10 million deficit, City Pulse reported. One of
them, Walnut Elementary School, is for sale for around $250,000.
The Mid-Michigan Leadership Academy has expressed an interest in
buying the building. The charter school is in danger of losing
its current home, on the grounds of the Michigan School for the
Blind, City Pulse reported.
Lansing Superintendent E. Sharon Banks said the district has "the
first right of refusal," if a charter school offers to buy the
Lansing Board of Education member Hugh Clarke Jr. said any plan
to sell Walnut Elementary to a charter school would not find
support on the school board.
"From an ideological standpoint, it might be difficult for me to
swallow," Clarke told City Pulse. "That's almost like cutting off
your nose to spite your face."
Newly elected Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero disagrees with the
"I think you have to look at all viable offers and interests," he
told City Pulse. "My view is, better a charter school than an
empty building, frankly."
City Pulse, "Lansing school officials to charter schools: No
way," Jan. 18, 2006http://www.lansingcitypulse.com/060118/news/index.asp
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "With Clear Eyes, Sincere Hearts and Open Minds," July 27, 2002https://www.mackinac.org/4447
Michigan Education Digest, "School board will not sell building to charter school company," Nov. 1, 2005https://www.educationreport.org/7417
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Impact of Limited School Choice on Public School Districts," July 24, 2000https://www.mackinac.org/2962
Michigan Education Report, "Public Schools Step Up Marketing,"
Jan. 18, 1999https://www.educationreport.org/1587
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Public Schools Learn Their Lesson About Competition," Aug. 1, 2000https://www.mackinac.org/3011
PLANNING HELPS SCHOOL DISTRICT AVOID BUDGET PROBLEMS
STANDISH, Mich. — A superintendent with an MBA and long-range
financial planning skills has helped Standish-Sterling Community
Schools remain financially viable, according to The Bay City
A $4 million swimming pool is under construction, the new high
school is less than five years old, an auditorium hosts dance,
music and theater productions and athletic teams train year-round
in a $1 million field house in the Arenac County district, The
Claude Inch, superintendent for 20 years, already has calculated
revenue projections and student head counts for 2010, 2015 and
"My computer labs got all new computers this year," high school
Principal Mark Williams told The Times. "It's Claude's five-year
rotation schedule. We're like a fine-tuned machine."
The projects, including the pool, are paid for in cash from a
fund balance that has grown in the decade since voters approved
Proposal A, The Times reported. Before Proposal A, Standish-Sterling received about $2,700 per student from the state school
aid fund, Inch told The Times. That amount now stands at $6,875
per student, a portion of which the district sets aside each
Voters approved a 7-mill tax increase in 1999 that raised $24
million for the new high school, created a new middle school in
the old high school and remodeled two elementary schools, The
"Manage in the short-term, project in the long-term," Inch told
The Times. "You have to know how much you have, what the
priorities are and what you need to accomplish them. Keep
yourself properly staffed and be vigilant about what you're
spending money on."
The Bay City Times, "Good planning helps Standish schools thrive
in tight times," Dec. 27, 2005
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "School Funding: Lack of Money or Lack of Money Management?" Aug. 30, 2001https://www.mackinac.org/3683
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Do Schools Really Need More Money?" Sept. 1, 1997https://www.mackinac.org/603
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Six Habits of Fiscally Responsible Public School Districts," Dec. 3, 2002https://www.mackinac.org/4891
UNION E-MAIL TARGETS COMMUNITY PANEL
HOLLAND, Mich. — An e-mail from the president of the Holland
teachers union has upset the chairman of a citizen's group that
is working to improve Holland Public Schools, according to The
Grand Rapids Press.
Charles Bullard, president of the Holland Education Association,
said in his Jan. 10 e-mail to union members that the Holland
Public Schools' Community Advisory Committee is "window dressing"
for decisions already made by administrators, The Press reported.
Bullard's e-mail also said that because the committee has no
official union representation, it does not represent the views of
teachers or minorities. The Press also said Bullard's e-mail
called the committee's meetings "a joke" and were poorly
Ted Simpkins, chairman of the group that was formed in November
to give feedback on how the district could better handle finances
and increase enrollment, said he was "disappointed and personally
hurt" by Bullard's comments, The Press reported. Simpkins also
pointed out that there are six teachers among the 34 community
members on the panel and that meetings have attracted hundreds of
residents, including teachers and minorities.
"This is painful to all of us who have put in a lot of personal
thought, effort, time and energy into our work (on the committee)
for the HEA to feel like this," Simpkins told The Press.
School board member Kevin Clark said he thinks the e-mail stems
from ongoing contract negotiations.
"This is a continuation of the negative pattern of rhetoric and
misinformation being put out by the HEA leadership over the past
four months," Clark told The Press. "My hope is the vast majority
of our teaching staff does not share (Bullard's) beliefs."
The Grand Rapids Press, "Union leader's e-mail causes stir,"
Jan. 12, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Holland declares second impasse, teachers get free insurance," Jan. 17, 2006https://www.educationreport.org/7551
Michigan Education Report, "Growing number of districts seek solutions to costly health insurance," Dec. 15, 2005https://www.educationreport.org/7479
Michigan Education Digest, "Holland board picks cost-saving insurance," Nov. 15, 2005https://www.educationreport.org/7430
SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS QUESTION GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS
MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. — The Macomb County Association of School
Administrators has expressed concerns over a plan for statewide
graduation requirements, according to The Macomb Daily.
The group, which includes superintendents from all 21 of Macomb
County's school districts, said it supports tougher graduation
standards, but would like to see the plan delayed at least two
years, mainly due to what it sees as a lack of qualified
"They're just not coming out of the colleges," Gayle Green, chief
academic officer for the Macomb Intermediate School District,
told The Daily. "We need more flexibility."
The standards, approved by the State Board of Education in
December and now being discussed by Legislators, would require
high school students to have 18 credits, including more math and
science courses, in order to graduate.
Green also said that because Algebra II is among the
requirements, teachers must be re-educated in methods that will
allow them to teach the course to students who otherwise would
not take it.
"Our teachers do a good job of teaching Algebra II — to the kids
who (choose to) take it," Green told The Daily.
The group also questions a part of the new plan that includes two
years of a foreign language, pointing out that only the
University of Michigan, among state colleges, requires a foreign
language for admission, The Daily reported.
"I can understand where (administrators) are coming from, but
they might be reacting a little too much," Rep. Brian Palmer,
chairman of the House Education Committee, told The Daily.
Palmer said the state needs to upgrade graduation requirements so
that diplomas earned anywhere in the state mean the same thing.
The Macomb Daily, "Grad requirements concern educators," Jan. 22, 2006
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Hope in State Graduation Standards Misplaced," Jan. 3, 2006https://www.mackinac.org/7498
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Credit Conundrum," Dec. 12, 2005
Michigan Education Digest, "State-mandated graduation requirements presented," Nov. 22, 2005https://www.educationreport.org/7443
, "House Bill 5606"
MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education
a quarterly newspaper
with a circulation of 148,000 published by the Mackinac Center
for Public Policy (https://www.mackinac.org
nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.