Contents of this issue:

  • All-day kindergarten in Battle Creek Lakeview
  • Gladstone recall withdrawn
  • Pontiac to lay off 700-plus
  • Teachers not opposed to multiple-factor merit pay
  • Students expelled for tampering with teacher's drink


BATTLE CREEK, Mich. - Lakeview School District may expand its pilot full-day kindergarten to the entire district this fall, according to the Battle Creek Enquirer, though parents who prefer a half-day section may be able to choose that option.

Districts that do not provide all-day kindergarten by 2010-11 will see reduced per-pupil aid, according to the Enquirer.

Another reason given for expanding the current pilot program is that students are learning at a better rate, according to Karen Hart, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, the Enquirer reported.

The district projects it will spend $965,000 more than it takes in next year, finance director Amy Jones told the school board, but full-day kindergarten is anticipated to add only one teacher, the Enquirer reported.

Superintendent Cindy Ruble will study the possible expansion; she said there likely would be room to continue a half-day program for parents who desire it, according to the Enquirer.

The Battle Creek Enquirer, "All-day K on the way?" March 17, 2009

Michigan Education Report, "Don't expect long-term gain from early education money," Aug. 15, 2007


GLADSTONE, Mich. - A recall drive of three Gladstone school board members has ended as the district and its teachers union begin a mediated effort to solve their differences, according to the Escanaba Daily Press.

Recall petitions filed against two board members for voting to pay a state association to conduct a superintendent search and against a third member for voting against a new teacher contract all were withdrawn, the Daily Press reported.

Since October, when the original petitions were filed, the Committee to Improve Gladstone Schools had gathered only about a third of the signatures needed, according to the Daily Press.

About 600 more signatures would have been needed by early April to force a vote, Cindy Blahnik, committee spokesperson, told the Daily Press.

District administrators, board members and the Gladstone Education Association are taking part in federally mediated problem solving and conflict resolution training designed to improve labor relations, according to the Daily Press.

Superintendent Jay Kulbertis told the Daily Press that he and a representative of the Michigan Education Association had met with a mediator who stipulated that the recall drive must be halted before talks continued.

Blahnik said the attempted recall was part of the democratic process and was not intended as a personal affront, although those named in the recall may have felt otherwise, the Daily Press reported.

The Escanaba Daily Press, "Board recall withdrawn," March 13, 2009

Michigan Education Report, "School Employees Union Shows School Boards the Whip," Nov. 24, 2008


PONTIAC, Mich. - The Pontiac School District will lay off more than 700 teachers, support staff and administrators in view of projected overspending by $11.6 million in next year's budget, the Detroit Free Press reported. The district also plans to close eight schools.

Employees should know by April 30 how many will be called back to work, the Free Press reported.

Doug Pratt, director of communications for the Michigan Education Association, called the volume of layoffs "unprecedented" and told the Free Press that the MEA will monitor the process. Pamela Farris, president of the Pontiac Association of School Administrators, said that union will file grievances and may take legal action, the Free Press reported.

District officials said declining enrollment - the district has 7,200 students, but space for 20,000 - made the cuts necessary.

"The financial condition of this district should not be a surprise to anyone," said Interim Superintendent Linda Paramore, according to the Free Press. "We have difficult decisions to make."

"If we don't act, we could end up like other governmental entities that give up any options," said Board Trustee Christopher Northcross, the Free Press reported.

The Detroit Free Press, "Hundreds of Pontiac school employees to be laid off," March 10, 2009

Michigan Education Digest, "Cash flow an issue in Pontiac," Oct. 25, 2008


BAY CITY, Mich. - The Michigan Education Association is not "universally" opposed to merit pay for teachers, a spokeswoman told The Bay City Times, but would object to merit pay that is tied to a single standardized test.

Responding to President Barack Obama's call for rewarding good teachers with higher pay and removing limits on charter schools, spokeswoman Kerry Birmingham told The Times that the MEA is open to hearing more about an approach that would tie teacher pay to effectiveness in the classroom as well as continuing education efforts, such as learning new methods of teaching.

"It's different than traditional merit pay," Birmingham said.

John Mrozinski, president of the Bangor Township Teachers Association, told The Times, "With the diverse background that children come to school with it seems unfair to base somebody's salary on how well a student does on standardized testing."

Kevin Stapish, president of the Bay City Education Association, told The Times that unions have traditionally opposed merit pay plans based just on the Michigan Educational Assessment Program.

"What they're talking about is merit pay in terms of multiple factors that would be more palatable," Stapish said.

In remarks to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Obama said that, "Too many supporters of my party have resisted the idea of rewarding excellence in teaching with extra pay, even though we know it can make a difference in the classroom."

The Bay City Times, "Obama, taking on unions, backs merit pay," March 11, 2009

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "A Teacher Quality Primer," June 30, 2008


HARRISON, Mich. - The Harrison school board has permanently expelled a student allegedly involved in a case of putting a prescription drug into a teacher's beverage, according to The Clare County Review. The board earlier expelled another student in the same case for 180 days, The Review reported.

Superintendent Tom House told The Review that the student was expelled for possessing the prescription drug used in the incident, planning to put it in the teacher's drink and putting it into the drink. The drug was not identified in the article.

Addressing the board at the meeting, the teacher's husband requested a permanent expulsion, The Review reported.

"The real tragedy, I think, is we've taken a very dedicated teacher out of the classroom," he told the board, according to The Review. He also said he and his wife are considering legal action, the report said.

The Clare County Review, "Harrison BOE expels second Middle School student for drugging teacher," March 12, 2009

Michigan Education Report, "Lack of Support Makes Teachers Quit," Aug. 15, 1999

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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