Short Subjects

Advertising is permitted on school district buses, though a Michigan State Police bus inspector had told Ypsilanti school officials that existing ads had to be removed. The agency’s Traffic Safety Division now says the policy is under review.

Single gender schools or classes have the support of a state legislator who says he is drafting a bill that would allow the change in Grand Rapids. Sen. Bill Hardiman, R-Kentwood, said his bill would specifically target a single-gender school for young women. A similar measure passed in 2006 applied to Detroit Public Schools.

School districts in Leelanau County paid about $15,222 to hold separate elections instead of coordinating dates with other local government units, the Leelanau Enterprise reported recently. School districts generally can avoid election costs by holding elections on the same day as other government units. Area superintendents said they plan to examine the issue further.

Black River Public School has introduced teacher merit pay, setting aside $60,000 for the program, school officials told The Grand Rapids Press. The program will be based on academic goals set and assessed by teams of teachers from specific subjects and grades. Black River is a public school academy in Holland.

A retired Michigan Teacher of the Year who helped to write a report on performance pay said she has been told by the Michigan Education Association that she may no longer present at MEA events. Nancy Flanagan told Washington Post columnist Jay Mathews that she was contacted by the teachers union after the report, “Performance-Pay for Teachers: Designing a System that Students Deserve,” was published. The report calls for using student success and teacher leadership to help determine teacher pay, rather than the traditional single-salary scale.

Howell Public Schools is requesting bids for competitive contracting of its custodial and transportation services shortly after approving a new contract with teachers that is expected to cost the district $750,000 to $1 million more in personnel costs. According to the Daily Press and Argus, Howell’s latest contract with the Howell Education Association includes teacher pay raises and requires teachers to contribute toward their Michigan Education Special Services Association health insurance premium.

"Schools of choice" programs were dropped, added and helped prompt a recall across Michigan this summer. Clinton Community Schools and Saline Area Schools have become school districts of choice, but Bridgeport-Spaulding Community Schools will close enrollment to students not assigned to the district, according to media reports. Two members of the Hazel Park Schools Board of Education are being targeted for recall after voting to close two schools and to continue the Schools of Choice program.

French language classes will be replaced with Chinese in South Lyon Community Schools beginning in 2008-2009, according to the South Lyon Herald. Though a group of parents and students protested, administrators said that knowing the Chinese language will help students compete in the global market.

A school custodian in the Essexville-Hampton school district has lost his job and has pleaded not guilty to a charge of assault and battery after allegedly carrying a 7-year-old child into the principal’s office and slamming him into a chair. Ray R. Meeks, who had been a district employee for 33 years, allegedly grabbed the boy after the first-grader called him a name, the Bay City Times reported. The article said that personnel and court filings indicate Meeks was subject to discipline in the past relating to alleged excessive use of force.

School employees are paying for extra electricity in Grosse Pointe Public Schools this year as part of an energy-efficiency effort, and Chippewa Valley Public Schools is considering a similar system, the Detroit Free Press reported. The charges would cover certain personal items, such as air cleaners and small refrigerators.

Cedar Point saw a 31 percent jump in attendance by Michigan travelers the year after Michigan passed a law forbidding schools from opening before Labor Day in 2005. Ohio legislators once again are hoping to pass a similar law, an idea that crops up annually, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported. Educators dislike the idea, with one teacher union official saying education should not be put at the "mercy of the tourism industry."

The National Labor Relations Board has upheld a decision requiring Dean Transportation to recognize the Grand Rapids Education Support Personnel Association as the bargaining unit representing former Grand Rapids Public Schools bus drivers. Dean hired about 100 former Grand Rapids school bus drivers in 2005 when the district privatized transportation service. Dean said the drivers rightfully belonged in the Dean Transportation Employees Union, but GRESPA said the drivers should remain in their original bargaining unit.