Contents of this issue:
- Detroit Public Schools announces school closings
- Wait lists for charter schools grow as enrollment soars
- Lansing area school districts could move election dates
- Birmingham cracks down on residency fraud
- Oakridge nonunion employees leave MESSA
DETROIT PUBLIC SCHOOLS ANNOUNCES SCHOOL CLOSINGS
DETROIT — Detroit Public Schools officials have decided to close
47 schools this summer and close another five in 2008, according
to the Detroit Free Press.
The closings are a part of the district's state mandated deficit
elimination plan to close 95 schools by 2009. DPS has an
enrollment of 119,000, but its 232 buildings can hold more than
180,000 students, The Detroit News reported.
"We really have over 60,000 seats available and no students
sitting in them," Darrel A. Rodgers, chief of Facilities
Maintenance and Auxiliary Services, told The News. "You can't
operate like that."
The closings will affect about 18,000 students and save the
district almost $19 million a year.
"The tremendous underutilization of our buildings cannot
continue. Spending money on empty spaces is unwise and steals
valuable resources from the students and families who have stayed
with the district," Superintendent William F. Coleman III said in
a plan submitted to the Detroit Public Schools Facilities
Committee, according to the Free Press.
The district will have meetings in January and February to
measure public response and finalize its decision in the latter
part of February, according to The News.
Detroit Free Press, "Officials announce school closings in
Detroit," Jan. 5, 2007
The Detroit News, "Detroit schools to list closings," Jan. 4, 2007
Michigan Education Digest, "Ten alternative schools may close in
Detroit," Dec. 19, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Detroit Public Schools enrollment drops again," Nov. 29, 2005
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "School Budgets: A Crisis of
Management, Not Finance," Feb. 11, 2005
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Six Habits of Fiscally Responsible Public School Districts," Dec. 3, 2002
WAIT LISTS FOR CHARTER SCHOOLS GROW AS ENROLLMENT SOARS
DETROIT — Demand for charter public schools is rising and
enrollment is at an all-time high, but more parents are finding
their children on wait lists because of the state cap on
charters, according to The Detroit News.
Michigan's 229 charter schools educate nearly 100,000 students
and have seen significant increases in enrollment over the past
two years. Charters are in such demand that many citizens are
pushing for the removal of the 150-school cap on university-authorized charter public schools, despite disinterest from the
new legislature, according to The News.
"We have roughly 50 groups that are interested in starting
charter schools, but most of them are waiting on the sidelines
because when there are no charters available, you really have to
look yourself in the face and wonder why go through the effort,"
Jim Goenner, executive director of Central Michigan University's
Center for Charter Schools, told The News.
There are 10,000 students on the waiting list at CMU's 58 charter
schools, according to The News. However, new House Speaker Andy
Dillon, D-Redford, wants to limit Bay Mills Community College, a
major source of new charters in the state, according to The News.
"We need a fair and level playing field between charters and
public schools," Dan Farough, spokesman for Dillon, told The
Although there is little interest in charter schools from the
state Legislature, many parents are still looking for an
alternative to conventional public schools, according to The
"I want something different for my son — a different type of
teaching and learning. He's an excellent student," Marvalena
James, the mother of a Detroit Public School student, told The
News. She has recently placed him on Detroit University
Preparatory Academy's waiting list, which is now stands at 600
students, The News reported. "The school he goes to now is an
excellent school, but there's too many things I'm not pleased
about. I'll wait as long as it takes."
The Detroit News, "Space tight at charter schools," Jan. 1, 2007
Michigan Education Report, "Should Michigan lift the cap on
charter public schools? Yes," Nov. 21, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Report: Charters have higher teacher
certification," Nov. 7, 2006
Michigan Education Report, "Court of Appeals rejects MEA suit
over Bay Mills charters," Sep. 6, 2006
LANSING AREA SCHOOL DISTRICTS COULD MOVE ELECTION DATES
LANSING, Mich. — Grand Ledge and Waverly schools will see the
cost of running school elections increase significantly this
year, and are examining the possibility of moving their election
dates to November, according to the Lansing State Journal.
The Grand Ledge school district will see its costs increase by 10
times what they paid to run elections before the state passed
legislation to consolidate election dates, according to the
Journal. Waverly schools will see its costs double, the Journal
Prior to 2004, districts ran their own elections and set their
own election dates. However, election consolidation legislation
limited the number of possible election dates to four and placed
city or township clerks in charge of school elections, according
to the Journal.
Both districts could reduce their costs to nearly nothing if they
were to hold elections in November and align their election cycle
with those of other elected offices, the Journal reported.
Lansing State Journal, "Schools will face election dilemma,"
Dec. 31, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Avondale moves elections to November," Dec. 12, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Rochester moves school board elections, lengthens terms," Nov. 14, 2006
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Secret Ballot?" May 22, 2006
BIRMINGHAM CRACKS DOWN ON RESIDENCY FRAUD
DETROIT — Birmingham Public Schools officials are creating new
rules to remove students who claim to live inside the district,
but don't, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Residency fraud is common in metro Detroit, where there is a
significant difference in the quality of bordering school
districts. In 2005, Grosse Pointe re-enrolled all of its students
to remove nonresidents from the district, according to the Free
The Birmingham school board has adopted some policies from Grosse
Pointe and will make parents pay for the period of time a student
attends the unassigned schools illegally. The district already
has investigated more than a dozen cases of fraud and has removed
a few students. Most of the parents, however, have proved that
they live inside the district, according to the Free Press.
Detroit Free Press, "Birmingham school district tightens
residency rules," Jan. 3, 2007
Michigan Education Digest, "Thousands of parents exercise limited
school choice rights," July 5, 2006
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Case for Choice in Schooling: Restoring Parental Control of Education,"
Jan. 29, 2001
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Impact of Limited School
Choice on Public School Districts," July 24, 2000
OAKRIDGE NONUNION EMPLOYEES LEAVE MESSA
MUSKEGON, Mich. — Oakridge Public Schools will save $74,000 per
year as a result of changing health insurance plans for 19
nonunion employees, according to The Muskegon Chronicle.
The district currently pays for coverage from the Michigan
Educational Special Services Association, a third-party health
insurance administrator. MESSA is affiliated with the Michigan
Education Association, a school employees union. Under their new
contract, administrators, some community education teachers,
administrative assistants and secretaries will receive coverage
from Priority Health, according to The Chronicle.
Tom Paniucki, Superintendent of Oakridge schools, told the
Chronicle that the coverage will be similar and, in some cases,
better than MESSA. Employees will also receive a 2.5 percent pay
raise for switching insurance providers, The Chronicle reported.
"We feel that we have created a win-win situation in very
difficult financial times," Paniucki told the Chronicle.
Muskegon Chronicle, "District trims $74,000 in heath-care costs,"
Jan. 2, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Saline teachers get new contract,"
Oct. 17, 2006
Michigan Education Report, "Blue Cross and MESSA," Sept. 6, 2006
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "MESSA Reference Page,"
March 10, 2006
MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education
a quarterly newspaper
with a circulation of approximately 150,000 published by the
Mackinac Center for Public Policy (https://www.mackinac.org
private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational