Contents of this issue:

  • More med schools, no more doctors
  • Retirement costs headed up
  • Home-schoolers adjust to recession
  • Charter school needs more room
  • Superintendent: No more deficit spending


DETROIT - More medical schools may not solve a projected doctor deficit in Michigan, according to Crain's Business Detroit, given a cap on in-state residency program slots.

Oakland, Central Michigan and Western Michigan universities all plan new medical schools, with Oakland prepared to accept students by 2010, Crain's reported. Michigan State University is expanding its programs in Grand Rapids and Detroit.

But while the Michigan State Medical Society has projected a deficit of more than 6,000 physicians in Michigan by 2020, the president of that group told Crain's Business that there should be a study on how to meet that need.

The society is not opposed to any new school, Michael Sandler, MSMS president, told Crain's, but the state should use central planning for future schools. Wayne State University President Jay Noren told Crain's it would make more sense to expand capacity at existing medical schools like Wayne State.

"It is an unjustifiable expenditure when you consider the benefits versus the costs," he said.

The schools at OU, CMU and WMU will be paid for by gifts, philanthropy, tuition and research grants, Crain's reported, while MSU also will use state funding. Existing schools also receive funding through patient care, the article said, but administrators said it takes time for a medical school to break even financially.

How many medical school graduates go on to Michigan residency programs and ultimately become Michigan physicians is also in question, according to Crain's, since the federal government caps the number of slots in those programs and funds them through Medicare. Hospitals can exceed the cap, but only if they pay the salary and expenses, Crain's reported.

Crain's Business Detroit, "Med schools multiplying: More won't solve doc shortage, some say," March 8, 2009

Michigan Privatization Report, "Remediate Tuition Hikes with Contracting," Jan. 16, 2009


ADRIAN, Mich. - Superintendents in Lenawee County are worried about the increasing cost of the state retirement system for school employees, according to The (Adrian) Daily Telegram, and question the benefits of proposed legislation that would give teachers an incentive to retire now with extra compensation.

Adrian Public Schools pays more than $2.5 million annually into the current retirement system, equal to about 16.54 percent of its annual payroll, The Daily Telegram reported. That percentage fluctuates depending on the performance of the pension fund's investments, but is expected to increase by 2 percentage points in 2010-2011, according to the Michigan School Business Officials, the article said.

The Michigan Education Association and some legislators are backing a plan that would pay eligible teachers an additional 33 percent in pension benefits if they retire by March 31, 2010, the Daily Telegram reported. Supporters say the plan would help schools by moving older, higher-paid teachers off the payroll and open up jobs for new teachers at the bottom of the pay scale.

Adrian Superintendent Chris Timmis told The Daily Telegram that if the Senate Fiscal Agency's analysis of the legislation is correct, districts would save money at first, but that higher pension costs would eventually overtake any savings.

Madison Superintendent Jim Hartley said the incentive raises a question of fairness among employees who retire at different times, The Daily Telegram reported.

Ed Sarpolus, the MEA's director of governmental affairs, told The Daily Telegram that the MEA disagrees with some of the Senate Fiscal Agency's assumptions about the number of retirees and the time period over which benefits would be paid.

The Daily Telegram, "Retirement costs cause headaches for schools," March 7, 2009

Michigan Education Digest, "Michigan residents want teacher benefit reform," Aug. 13, 2008


NORTH BEND, Ore. - Home-school families are taking on night jobs, adjusting schedules and cutting back on expenses in tough economic times, but they are not giving up home schooling, according to an Associated Press article aired by KCBY-TV, Oregon.

That includes the Waterman family in Southfield, Mich., the report said. Abby Waterman, a mother of eight children, said she is able to continue teaching her four younger children at home due partly to support from the older siblings, who are chipping in earnings from caddying and tutoring.

April Morris, of Auburn Hills, also continues to teach one son at home even though she is now working nights at Target, the report said. Her husband was laid off from a computer industry job, she told the Associated Press.

Before the recession, the ranks of home-school students had been growing by an estimated 8 percent annually; the latest federal figures, from 2007, calculate the total at about 1.5 million, according to The Associated Press.

While some home-school families are giving up because of a stay- at-home parent's need to get a job, the recession overall could boost home schooling as parents seek alternatives to private school tuition hikes and public school cutbacks, officials told The Associated Press.

Allendale Academy in Clearwater, Fla., has seen enrollment increase 50 percent due to parents shifting from private schools, director Patricia Carter told the Associated Press. The academy also offers services to home-schoolers.

KCBY-TV, "Tough times force a mother to work, but home schooling remains priority," March 4, 2009

Michigan Education Report, "At Home at Delta College," Feb. 23, 2007


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - New Branches Public School Academy has outgrown its current location and may buy the Millbrook Christian School facility when that school relocates in 2010, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

The 207-student academy, chartered by Central Michigan University, uses portable classrooms at its current location, The Press reported. The school tried unsuccessfully to buy the vacant Kelloggsville Christian School last year, but that building eventually was purchased by charter school operator J.C. Huizenga, who opened Grand Rapids Preparatory Academy at the site, according to The Press.

The Millbrook site purchase price is $1.9 million, Grand Rapids Christian Schools Superintendent Tom DeJonge told The Press.

Four Christian schools, including Millbrook, will consolidate into a new school in the fall of 2010, The Press reported. In the meantime, New Branches will lease several classrooms and office space inside the Millbrook facility, the article said.

The Grand Rapids Press, "New Branches charter school seeks to buy Millbrook Christian School when it merges with other Grand Rapids Christian elementaries," March 5, 2009

Michigan Education Report, "Michigan charter schools 'gaining legitimacy' in the marketplace, report says," Feb. 24, 2009


CHEYBOYGAN, Mich. - Cheboygan Area Schools will go bankrupt if it continues to spend more than it takes in, Superintendent Dan Bauer told the Cheboygan Daily Tribune in an article outlining the district's budget prospects.

"The biggest problem with our budget over the last few years is that we continued to deficit spend," Bauer said in the article.

"While the federal government can seem to do this with no problem, school districts and businesses can't or they will eventually go bankrupt."

Cheboygan's fund balance has declined from about 12 percent of expenditures in 2005 to an anticipated 5.4 percent at the end of the current fiscal year, Bauer told the Daily Tribune.

Like other districts, Bauer said, Cheboygan's enrollment has dropped, which means less per-pupil state funding. Teacher retirement contributions and health insurance premiums are expected to rise next year, he told the Daily Tribune, and payroll will increase as teachers move up the salary schedule.

Bauer told the Daily Tribune that he has asked employees for budget reduction ideas and plans to do the same with the community at large. The district already offers a voluntary retirement incentive plan and has cut some programs, the Daily Tribune reported; future plans could include renting or selling unused facilities, as well as closing a building.

The Cheboygan Daily Tribune, "CAS budget headaches years in the making," March 3, 2009

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Six Habits of Fiscally Responsible Public School Districts," Dec. 3, 2002

MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (http://www.educationreport.org), an online newspaper published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (http://www.mackinac.org), a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Lorie Shane at

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