Contents of this issue:

  • Lawmakers lift cap on number of charter public schools
  • Police raid leads to loss of funds in Muskegon
  • Boat-building program offered to high school students
  • Driver removed for allowing students to push bus
  • ‘The Sharks’ move on to national LEGO robotics championship
  • Final MED of 2011

Lawmakers Lift Cap on Number of Charter Public Schools

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Legislature last week approved legislation that will gradually remove the cap on the number of charter public schools in Michigan, according to WWJ Newsradio 950. The current, arbitrary cap limits the number of university-authorized charter schools to 150.

WWJ reports that supporters of the bill argue lifting the cap on charter public schools helps students by giving them more options for pursuing their education, especially those in underperforming conventional school districts.

“We’ll be giving hope to thousands of kids on waiting lists right now,” said Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills.

Opponents expressed concerns that students seeking educational alternatives might have a negative impact on the budgets of the school districts to which they are assigned, according to WWJ.

“We do worry about a drain on the school aid fund. We already feel like we are struggling for finances as it is,” Avondale Superintendent George Heitsch told WWJ.


WWJ Newsradio 950, "Lawmakers Ok More Michigan Charter Schools," Dec. 15, 2011


Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Cap on Charger Public Schools Eliminated,” Dec. 15, 2011

Police Raid Leads to Loss of Funds in Muskegon

MUSKEGON, Mich. — Muskegon Heights Public Schools officials blamed a raid by Michigan State Police earlier this year for having their December state aid payment withheld, according to The Muskegon Chronicle. Because State Police still had financial documents necessary for completing a required audit, the school district missed the filing deadline, which caused the state to withhold the payment of about $780,000.

Interim Superintendent Dave Sipka told The Chronicle he was hopeful the audit could be completed and submitted within the next week. The Michigan Department of Education would then need to petition the Department of Treasury to release the funds, The Chronicle reported.

The documents were taken as part of an investigation into the possible misuse of federal Title I funds, according to The Chronicle.


The Muskegon Chronicle, “Police raid at Muskegon Heights schools helps trigger loss of state aid payment,” Dec. 15, 2011


Michigan Education Daily, “Muskegon Heights School Board Asks for Emergency Manager,” Dec. 13, 2011

Boat-Building Program Offered to High School Students

PETOSKEY, Mich. — The Michigan School of Boat Building and Marine Technology will offer a program for high school students in the Charlevoix-Emmet Intermediate School District starting in January, according to the Petoskey News-Review.

There are plans to also establish a post-secondary program whereby students could receive an associate’s degree from North Central Michigan College, and potentially high school students could be dual-enrolled, the News Review reported.


Petoskey News-Review, “Boat-building academy to offer program for high-school students,” Dec. 12, 2011


Michigan Education Digest, “Aviation Academy plans major expansion,” Dec. 4, 2011

Driver Removed for Allowing Students to Push Bus

MUSKEGON, Mich. — A substitute bus driver for Reeths-Puffer School District was removed after allowing students to push a bus he thought was stuck, according to WZZM-TV13. The driver then realized the bus was not actually stuck but rather wasn’t in gear.

In a letter to parents, Superintendent Steve Edwards noted that while no students were harmed, allowing them to leave the bus in such a situation was against protocol, WZZM reported. Reeths-Puffer contracts with Michigan Educational Transportation Services for their busing services. The driver in question will not drive again for the district, WZZM reported.


WZZM-TV13, “Reeths-Puffer students tried to push school bus,” Dec. 19, 2011


Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Michigan School Privatization Survey 2011,” Dec. 7, 2011

’The Sharks’ Move on to National LEGO Robotics Championship

FLINT TOWNSHIP, Mich. — The Sharks, a team of junior high students from Belmont, earned a spot in the FIRST LEGO League World Festival by winning the state championship, according The Flint Journal. They were one of 48 teams competing at the state tournament.

FIRST LEGO competitions pit teams of students against each other using robots built with LEGOs. According to The Journal, teams are judged on a variety of factors including robot performance, an interview with judges and innovative responses to real-world problems. This year’s theme was “Food Factor” and students had to propose a solution for an existing problem related to the food industry.

"The importance is just getting the kids thinking about math, science and technology," Bill Welch, FIRST LEGO League Michigan partner, told The Journal. "The exciting part is just getting everybody in one place and robots running and validating what they do."


The Flint Journal, “The Sharks, a LEGO robotics team from Belmont, moves on the world competition after winning the state championship at Carman-Ainsworth Middle School Saturday,” Dec. 10, 2011


Michigan Science, “Michigan High Schools Excel at Robotics Competition,” June 9, 2009

Final MED of 2011

MIDLAND, Mich. — This issue will be the final Michigan Education Digest of 2011. MED will resume publication on Jan. 4, 2012.

MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report, an online newspaper published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Kyle Jackson at mailto:med@educationreport.org

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