Schools buy ‘best school’ rating

YPSILANTI, Mich. - Nine southeast Michigan school districts paid $25,000 each to be named a "top school district" in Michigan by a Detroit-area public relations firm, according to

The schools did not have to meet any criteria other than paying the money, reported. In addition to being designated top districts, the schools are cited on a Web site titled "," and the company, Sussman Sikes, bought time on a Detroit-area television station to broadcast a feature on the schools.

Sussman Sikes representatives did not return multiple messages from requesting comment, the report said.

Several administrators in the participating districts said they view the payment as a way to showcase their schools and attract students, reported. Lincoln Consolidated Schools Superintendent Lynn Cleary told that print media in the area has declined and that the publicity allows Lincoln to reach a large audience.

Ann Arbor Public Schools decided against participating, spokesman Liz Margolis told because of budget considerations and a lack of transparency over how districts came to be named "best schools."

SOURCE:, "Lincoln pays $25,000 to be named one of the top school districts in Michigan," Feb. 3, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Michigan School Funding Problems Solved!" Feb. 4, 2010