Contents of this issue:
Holland budget projection off by $6 million
DPS limits 'excessive' retreat spending
GRPS to look at single-sex classes
Carman-Ainsworth magnet could be year-round
Privatization vote prompts violent threat against DPS board
HOLLAND BUDGET PROJECTION OFF BY $6 MILLION
HOLLAND, Mich. — A $6 million projection error in the Holland
Public Schools budget will make it harder for the teachers union
to claim that the district can afford a more expensive health
insurance plan, according to The Grand Rapids Press.
The union since November has argued that the district could
afford the Choices II plan offered through the Michigan Education
Special Services Association, The Press reported. MESSA is a
third-party administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education
"This absolutely sucks," The Press quoted Charles Bullard,
president of the Holland teachers union, as he left a recent
closed-door meeting with administrators where the error was
Bullard told The Press that teachers could call for a strike. Teacher strikes are illegal in Michigan under Public Act 112 of
Bob Fein, business manager for Holland schools, said he
discovered his own error while recalculating budget numbers, The
Press reported. Fein said he overstated future state aid, the
amount schools receive based on the number of students enrolled,
by about $2 million a year for the next three years.
"The error has no bearing on the 'what is' state of our
district's financial condition," Superintendent Frank Garcia said
in a letter to teachers, according to The Press. "It was a
prediction miscalculation, not the mismanagement of actual
What appeared to be a three-year surplus of $6 million is now
more likely to be a $1.3 million loss by June 2008 if enrollment
continues to drop, according to The Press. The district also said
it will ask the state to appoint a mediator as contract
negotiations have failed to reach an agreement.
The Grand Rapids Press, "Schools' budget error has union
enraged," May 17, 2006
The Grand Rapids Press, "Holland teachers weigh next move in
talks," May 18, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Holland union, district still split,"
Nov. 1, 2005
Michigan Education Digest, "Holland teachers threaten illegal
strike," May 2, 2006
DPS LIMITS 'EXCESSIVE' RETREAT SPENDING
DETROIT — Teachers and administrators from one Detroit high
school spent $5,000 on food, including filet mignon dinners, at a
recent retreat, prompting officials to impose a $49 daily limit
on food per person, according to the Detroit Free Press.
The Chadsey High School retreat, which lasted just over a day,
cost taxpayers $19,000 total, the Free Press reported. The money
is part of $5.1 million in grants the district is supposed to use
for retreats and staff development to help 130 failing schools
attempt to meet Adequate Yearly Progress standards. Other DPS
schools have held retreats in Frankenmuth and Traverse City,
according to the Free Press.
Superintendent William F. Coleman III said no one will be
disciplined over the Chadsey event because guidelines were not in
place. Speaking at a May 18 press conference, Coleman said the
matter was a violation of public trust, the Free Press reported.
Detroit Free Press, "Detroit limits food spending at school
retreats," May 19, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Detroit Public Schools enrollment
drops again," Nov. 29, 2005
Michigan Education Digest, "DPS administrators to get raises,"
Jan. 10, 2006
GRPS TO LOOK AT SINGLE-SEX CLASSES
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids Public Schools is considering
separating boys and girls for certain classes, according to The
Grand Rapids Press.
The district could create single-gender programs within one of
the district's four existing high schools as early as the fall of
2007, Superintendent Bert Bleke told The Press.
"We need to be able to offer all kinds of opportunities for our
students," Bleke told the newspaper. "The research is there that
this works for some students, and I think we should at least take
a look at it."
The Press said the National Association for Single Sex Public
Education lists 209 such programs nationwide, including 44 actual
schools. Proponents say such programs improve grades and
behavior, The Press noted, while opponents say it leads to
negative stereotypes and other forms of "segregation."
"It's not like the Catholic schools when I was growing up, where
there was a girls' school on one side of town and the boys' on
the other," school board President Amy McGlynn told The Press. "I
suspect we'd see the boys and girls separated for the core
courses but together for everything else."
The Grand Rapids Press, "GR considers single-sex school
programs," May 17, 2006
Michigan Education Report, "Detroit single-sex schools,"
Dec. 15, 2005
Michigan Education Digest, "Saginaw school offers single-sex
classrooms," Aug. 31, 2004
CARMAN-AINSWORTH MAGNET COULD BE YEAR-ROUND
FLINT, Mich. — The Carman-Ainsworth school board could consider a
magnet school designed with a year-round calendar and non-graded
classes, according to a story from The Flint Township News that
was reprinted in The Flint Journal.
A study committee came up with the ideas after the school board
asked for suggestions to make Carman Park Elementary School a
magnet school for students in and out of the district, The News
Non-graded classes group students together based on ability,
rather than age, according to The News. A year-round school
calendar could mean a one-month break in the summer, with longer
breaks at other times of the year.
The changes could occur as early as the 2007-2008 school year,
and possibly be implemented in other schools across the district,
according to The News.
The Flint Journal, "Carman-Ainsworth to mull year-round
calendar," May 14, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Grand Rapids board reviews plans for
year-round schools," Dec. 21, 2004
PRIVATIZATION VOTE PROMPTS VIOLENT THREAT AGAINST DPS BOARD
DETROIT — A Detroit Public Schools board member filed a police
report after callers to a live radio show May 15 made threatening
comments, according to The Detroit News.
One caller said voters should "pick up the gun," The News
reported. Some calls focused on a DPS board vote to sign a
competitive contract with Aramark for food services. Aramark was
chosen in a 9-2 vote to receive a $21.7 million contract for one
year, bettering other bids including one from union workers.
The News said several callers mentioned board member David Murray
by name, prompting him to file the police report against a group
known as "Call 'Em-Out." Agnes Hitchcock, a spokeswoman for the
group, said it plans to try to recall Murray.
The Detroit News, "DPS board takes heat on the air," May 16, 2006
Michigan Education Report, "Privatization shows signs of growth
across the state," Dec. 15, 2005
Michigan Education Report, "New Detroit school board should
consider all educational options," March 7, 2006
MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education
a quarterly newspaper
with a circulation of nearly 150,000 published by the Mackinac
Center for Public Policy (https://www.mackinac.org
nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.