Contents of this issue:
Teacher "sick-out" forces Detroit schools to close
Fact finder agrees with both sides in Ironwood
Detroit school enrollment down more than expected
New Catholic school planned
East Detroit to enforce residency requirement
Leelanau County schools consider collaboration
Intermediate school districts form consortium
TEACHER "SICK-OUT" FORCES DETROIT SCHOOLS TO CLOSE
DETROIT — More than 38,000 students in the Detroit Public Schools
were denied instruction on March 22 as 1,700 teachers staged an
apparent sick-out, according to the Detroit Free Press.
The action caused 54 schools to be closed for the day, the Free
Press reported. The number of teachers who called in sick was
about five times as many compared to an average day. The Free
Press reported that teachers were upset because while they agreed
to a contract provision calling for them to loan five days' pay
to the district, administrators and principals will receive pay
increases of up to 10 percent. The district has said it will
repay the teachers next year. The district also said
administrators and principals took 10 percent pay cuts last year,
and this year's increase is to get them back to original levels,
the Free Press reported.
The teachers' action caused scheduling problems for parents who
had to pick up children at school.
"I understand what the teachers are doing; I'm a union worker,"
parent Debra Jones told the Free Press. "But what about the kids?
There's got to be an easier way to solve this."
Jones said she had to leave her job as a manager at Kroger's in
order to pick up her daughter.
The teachers' "sick-out" came one day after the first of the five
reduced paychecks they will receive this semester, the Free Press
reported. If the situation continues, the school year may have to
be extended to make up for lost class time, Superintendent
William F. Coleman III said.
"I don't want to believe the teachers will continue to deprive
Detroit Public Schools students of an education over a contract
dispute," Coleman told the Free Press. "The majority of our
teachers came to work today. That in itself shows there's
Janna Garrison, president of the Detroit teachers union, said the
Detroit Federation of Teachers did not condone the action, the
Free Press reported. A memo sent to schools said teachers who
called in sick and do not have a doctor's excuse may not be paid
for the day, according to the Free Press.
Detroit Free Press, "Teachers' protest over pay cancels classes,"
March 23, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Detroit school district reaches
short-term agreement," Aug. 30, 2005
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Collective Bargaining:
Bringing Education to the Table," Aug. 1, 1998
FACT FINDER AGREES WITH BOTH SIDES IN IRONWOOD
IRONWOOD, Mich. — A state-appointed fact finder said both the
Ironwood school district and teachers union have valid points on
the various issues that divide them, according to the Ironwood
The report, submitted by James Mackracz to the Michigan
Employment Relations Commission, sides with the Ironwood Area
School District on fiscal matters, and with the Ironwood
Education Association on work rules, the Daily Globe reported.
Mackraz said an insurance cap of $975 a month per person, which
the district agreed to for support staff, also should apply to
teachers. Insurance costs at the start of the school year stood
at more than $16,200 per teacher annually, the Daily Globe
reported. The district had offered teachers a monthly cap of
$1,050, but lowered that to $900 a month.
The fact finder said the district "made an impressive case for
its adverse financial condition," according to the Daily Globe.
Mackraz sided with the union, however, regarding the work rules,
or "non-economic" areas, such as a longer school day and
instituting a middle school model.
"From the beginning, I was convinced that something was awry in
the parties' relationship," the Daily Globe said, quoting
According to the Daily Globe, the district and union say
negotiations with a mediator will resume. The fact finding report
Ironwood Daily Globe, "Fact finder issues recommendation," March 16, 2006
Ironwood Daily Globe, "Negotiations to resume," March 16, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "MESSA at heart of Ironwood deadlock,"
Feb. 28, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "UP students add voices to labor
battle," Jan. 24, 2006
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "MESSA Reference Page,"
March 10, 2006
DETROIT SCHOOL ENROLLMENT DOWN MORE THAN EXPECTED
DETROIT — Enrollment in Detroit Public Schools is down about
11,500 students compared to last year, according to The Detroit
The drop, estimated by the Wayne County Regional Education
Service Agency, is about 1,500 more than expected, and will
result in more than $60 million less in state aid for the
district, The News reported. DPS in November estimated enrollment
at about 130,600, which would have been 10,000 less than the
2004-2005 school year. The Wayne County RESA audit, submitted to
the state earlier in March, shows the number at about 129,150,
The News reported.
"Naturally we are concerned about the suggestion we lost more
kids than we thought," school spokesman Lekan Oguntoyinbo told
The News. "We are going to work hard at our outreach and we want
to step up our campaign even more this year."
The Detroit News, "Detroit schools lose 11,500 kids at a cost of
$63M," March 17, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Detroit-area districts encourage students to attend count day," Oct. 4, 2005https://www.educationreport.org/7373
Michigan Education Report, "State charter schools see enrollment
increase; urban schools continue to lose students," March 7, 2006
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Detroit Schools' Deficit
Appears Linked to Adding Staff During Enrollment Decline, Says
Analyst," July 29, 2004
Michigan Education Digest, "Detroit Public Schools enrollment
drops again," Nov. 29, 2005
NEW CATHOLIC SCHOOL PLANNED
MACOMB TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Groundbreaking for a new Catholic high
school north of Detroit should take place within two years,
according to The Detroit News.
Austin Catholic Academy, planned for northern Macomb County, will
cost about $24 million to build. Backers say they have raised
about 20 percent, The News reported.
The Macomb County Regional Catholic High School group, consisting
of seven area parishes, has been pursuing a new school since
1996, The News reported. The Archdiocese of Detroit approved the
plan in 2000 and bought 63 acres for the new school. The academy
will house up to 800 students in grades 9-12, and will be run by
the Augustinian Fathers, an order that ran Austin Catholic Prep
on Detroit's east side for more than 25 years.
The Detroit News, "School backers optimistic," March 13, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Detroit could get new coed Catholic
school," Dec. 20, 2005
Michigan Education Report, "Catholic schools and the common
good," Aug. 16, 2005
Michigan Education Report, "Court correctly ended MEA's Catholic
school bid," Dec. 15, 2005
EAST DETROIT TO ENFORCE RESIDENCY REQUIREMENT
MT. CLEMENS, Mich. — East Detroit Public Schools will enforce its
residency requirement by making parents produce evidence they
live within the district's boundaries, The Macomb Daily reported.
Beginning in the fall, any of East Detroit's 5,700 students who
do not live in the district or provide the proper documentation
will be prohibited from enrolling in the district's schools,
according to The Daily. The district, which does not participate
in "schools of choice," will require parents to give proof of
address with a driver's license, a utility bill, a property
affidavit or a mortgage payment book. The district sent 3,200
letters to students' homes to notify parents that registration
begins April 3. The letters have provoked questions and
complaints from parents, which the paper reported would likely
continue at the school board's April 6 meeting. According to The
Detroit News, registration will close on June 16.
In addition to postage and clerical expenses, the district hired
a private investigator who found that at least 60 East Detroit
students did not live in the district, according to The Daily.
Furthermore, for each student it prohibits from re-enrolling, the
district would lose the per-pupil funding it receives from the
state, the newspaper said.
The Macomb Daily reported that nonresident parents who enroll
their kids in the district could be prosecuted for falsifying
The Macomb Daily, "Schools demand residency proof,"
March 27, 2006
The Detroit News, "E. Detroit students required to reregister,"
March 28, 2006
Michigan Education Report, "School choice develops in Michigan:
Not universal, though school employees get a leg up,"
Aug. 16, 2005
LEELANAU COUNTY SCHOOLS CONSIDER COLLABORATION
LELAND, Mich. — School districts on the Leelanau Peninsula are
considering a "federated" school system that would allow them to
work together but maintain autonomy, according to the Leelanau
School board members and administrators from Glen Lake, Suttons
Bay, Northport and Leland will meet April 12 to discuss the idea,
including information presented at a recent Michigan Association
of School Boards "Creative Collaborations" conference, the
"A federation is a different look that would allow us to
centralize operations, staffing and administrative services
without the schools losing their identities," Leland
Superintendent Mike Hartigan told the Enterprise.
Leelanau Enterprise, "Federated school system?" March 9, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "State law gives financial incentive
for district consolidation," March 5, 2003
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Consolidation of School
Districts," Jan. 29, 2001
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "School Districts: Is Less
More?" July 11, 2001
INTERMEDIATE SCHOOL DISTRICTS FORM CONSORTIUM
KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Superintendents in nine southwest Michigan
intermediate school districts have signed a consortium agreement
that could reduce costs by avoiding duplication of services,
according to the Kalamazoo Gazette.
Participating ISDs are from Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Branch,
Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and Van Buren counties. The
agreement covers seven specific areas, including teaching and
learning, administrative services and technology, the Gazette
"The ISDs have been working collaboratively together for many
years," Jeff Mills, superintendent of the Van Buren ISD, told the
Gazette. The consortium provides the separate districts a formal
way to work on projects, Mills added.
Mills said, for example, Van Buren already offers services for
hearing-impaired children to Barry and Cass, the Gazette
reported, because teachers certified for special education are
harder to find.
Kalamazoo Gazette, "Nine local school superintendents sign
consortium document," March 12, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Granholm approves ISD reform bills,"
July 27, 2004
Michigan Education Digest, "House approves local control of
ISDs," June 29, 2004
MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education
a quarterly newspaper
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Center for Public Policy (https://www.mackinac.org
nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.