Contents of this issue:

  • Low-performers eligible for grants
  • Eight superintendents retiring in southwest Michigan
  • Experts differ on why colleges raise tuition
  • Ypsilanti joins busing consolidation plan
  • Retirement rate up in Petoskey


LANSING, Mich. - About 108 Michigan public schools are eligible for up to $2 million each in school improvement grants based on their low academic performance, according to a report in the Detroit Free Press.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan named the schools Monday, including 47 within Detroit Public Schools, six in Grand Rapids Public Schools, four in Saginaw Public Schools and 13 public charter schools, among others, the Free Press reported.

All of them are Title I schools, indicating low-income student populations. To qualify for the federally funded grants, the schools must file an improvement plan by Aug. 16, the Free Press reported.

The grant requires schools to either: replace the principal and half the staff; close the school and reopen under different management; close the school and assign students to other schools, or "transform curriculum and leadership" to become more effective, according to the Free Press.

Some of the schools also may be placed on Michigan's own low- performance list, which would require them to report to a school reform officer, the Free Press reported.

"Unfortunately, that's not a great list to be on, public- relations-wise," Romulus Community Schools Superintendent Carl Weiss told the Free Press, referring to the federal grant list.

"We're looking forward to using the grant to improve."

Detroit Free Press, "Low-performing schools in Michigan to get grants," June 15, 2010

Michigan Education Report, "Audit: Extra high school money had little effect," May 10, 2010


ST. JOSEPH, Mich. - At least eight superintendents in southwest Michigan are retiring this year, some of them weary of the state economy and others simply because they are at retirement age, according to The (St. Joseph) Herald-Palladium. Another factor is the state's new retirement incentive.

Districts with retiring superintendents include Lakeshore, Hartford, Watervliet, Buchanan, Dowagiac and Niles, plus the Berrien County Regional Education Service Agency and the Lewis Cass Intermediate School District, The Herald-Palladium reported.

Craig Misner, regional president of the Michigan Leadership Institute, a firm that conducts superintendent searches, said one reason for the turnover is that the job today currently involves a great deal of cutting programs and laying off staff.

"It's a difficult time ... it's more fun building programs," Misner told The Herald-Palladium.

The state's new retirement incentive might be persuading more superintendents to leave, he told The Herald-Palladium.

The (St. Joseph) Herald-Palladium, "Superintendents decide it's time to go," June 13, 2010

Michigan Education Digest, "Administrators retire, then return," June 2, 2010


ANN ARBOR, Mich.  - College tuition hikes have outpaced inflation by a large margin for the past two decades, but there is disagreement over why universities keep charging more, according to a report at AnnArbor.com that focuses primarily on the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University.

Edward St. John, an author who has written about higher education policy, told AnnArbor.com that conservative, anti-tax voting has led to relatively less public funding for universities and forced them to rely more on tuition.

But a researcher with the Center for College Affordability and Productivity in Washington, D.C., said that universities raise tuition because they want to maintain and even expand their programming to attract students, AnnArbor.com reported.

Another analyst with the Center said that the easy credit that the federal government offers to students in the form of loans is another reason why universities find it easy to hike tuition.

Meanwhile, university representatives told AnnArbor.com that they have taken significant measures to rein in costs.

Eastern Michigan has pledged not to raise tuition in the coming year, after increases in the past two years.

AnnArbor.com, "Tuition rates significantly outpace inflation at University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University," June 13, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Do You Need Government Money to Attend College?" April 26, 2010


YPSILANTI, Mich. - Ypsilanti Public Schools will join a countywide transportation plan headed by the Washtenaw Intermediate School District, the Ypsilanti Citizen reported. The move is expected to reduce transportation costs by about 35 percent, or $1.25 million, according to the Citizen.

Bus drivers and mechanics who now work for Ypsilanti might continue as employees of the WISD, but jobs are not guaranteed, the report said. Wages would be reduced by up to 17 percent and employees would pay 30 percent of their health care premium costs, the Citizen reported. Currently they contribute nothing.

Hourly wages would move from $18.13 to $14.95 for bus drivers, from $23.29 to $21 for mechanics and from $12.92 to $11.46 for bus aides, according to the Citizen.

"We have an obligation on the board to get to a balanced budget, and by my last reckoning that meant finding somewhere in our budget - finding $6 million," said school board President David Bates before the 5-2 vote, the Citizen reported.

"The money you sit there and spend on this proposal, you could save money by negotiating with us and all the other employees," said Craig Lambert, a bus driver for the district, the Citizen reported.

Ypsilanti Citizen, "Ypsilanti Schools accept transportation consolidation," June 8, 2010

Michigan Education Digest, "Pinckney joins regional bus plan," March 22, 2010


PETOSKEY, Mich. - Petoskey public schools is reporting larger- than-usual retirement rates this year, according to the Petoskey News-Review.

The Public Schools of Petoskey could save about $745,000 if the eight teachers who have announced retirement are not replaced, Kent Cartwright, chief financial officer, told the News-Review.

He attributed the higher-than-normal numbers to the district's own early retirement buyout, as well as the state's new retirement incentives.

While the local numbers are high, statewide numbers are lower than expected, the News-Review reported, citing an Associated Press report.

That report said that about 16,000 school employees were expected to retire; the state had hoped 27,000 would retire, saving schools an estimated $670 million in the coming fiscal year, AP reported.

"It is my opinion that many staff members have ... decided they are better off staying in their teaching job," Cartwright told the News-Review, pointing out that retirees receive a pension equal to about 45 percent of their working salary and have to pay more for health insurance.

Superintendents in East Jordan and Boyne Falls told the News- Review they are retiring, as are a few employees in those districts.

Petoskey News-Review, "Local teacher retirements high; state falling short of retirement goal," June 11, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "How public school funding works," June 3, 2010

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 med@educationreport.org

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