February 19, 2013

Contents of this issue:

  • ‘Best practices’ money recommended for elimination by 2014
  • Michigan high school graduation rate increases
  • Eight Muskegon Heights teachers uncertified
  • Taylor teachers will see 10 percent pay cut
  • Fraser Public Schools purchases 5,000 iPads for students

‘Best Practice’ Money Recommended for Elimination by 2014

LANSING, Mich. – As part of his education spending plan, Gov. Rick Snyder is recommending eliminating “best practices” money for schools, The Detroit News reports.
According to The News, the best practices money is a per-pupil grant intended to encourage districts to adopt recommended fiscal practices, such as competitively bidding non-instructional services, participating in Schools of Choice and posting financial and academic information online.
The News reports that Gov. Snyder is recommending reducing the grant from $52 per student to $16 per student during the 2013-14 school year. The grant would be eliminated by the 2014-15 school year, according to The News.
Budget Director John Nixon told The News that the money was always meant to be a one-time grant. “We said it until we were blue in the face,” he told The News.
SOURCE: The Detroit News, ”Michigan’s school aid increase may actually leave districts with less,” Feb. 15, 2013
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Reducing ‘Best Practices’ Money Best for Taxpayers," Feb. 15, 2013

Michigan High School Graduation Rate Increases

LANSING, Mich. – New data from the Michigan Center for Educational Performance and Information show that more high school students are graduating, according to the Detroit Free Press.
The Free Press reports that 76.24 percent of students in the Class of 2012 graduated, compared to 74.33 percent of students in the Class of 2011.
This is heartening, according to the Free Press, because graduation rates had fallen the previous year, and some suspected that was due to new, increased graduation requirements imposed by the state.
The graduation rate for Detroit Public Schools increased as well, the Free Press reports. Nearly 65 percent of DPS students graduated in 2012, compared to 59.74 percent in 2011, according to the Free Press.
SOURCE: The Detroit Free Press, “More Michigan high schoolers are graduating on time,” Feb. 13, 2013
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, ”New Graduation Requirements Mean Fewer Grads," Oct. 23, 2012 

Eight Muskegon Heights Teachers Uncertified

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. – Eight teachers at the Muskegon Heights charter district were not certified as of January 2013, according to Michigan Radio.
Michigan Radio reports that state law requires teachers be certified or have a permit to teach. According to Michigan Radio, the eight teachers who were uncertified amounted to about 10 percent of the district’s teaching staff.
Mike Connelly, the chief executive officer of the company running the charter district, told Michigan Radio that the company verified that all teachers hired were eligible for certification. He told Michigan Radio that the company expected those teachers to obtain proper certification, but that the company should have followed up.
According to Michigan Radio, the uncertified teachers at the district obtained certification in February.
SOURCE: Michigan Radio, “Investigation uncovers non-certified teachers at Muskegon Heights new charter school,” Feb. 12, 2013
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “Muskegon Heights could become charter district,” June 8, 2012

Taylor Teachers Will See 10 Percent Pay Cut, Per Union Agreement

TAYLOR, Mich. – The Taylor Federation of Teachers ratified a five-year agreement with the district that includes a 10 percent pay cut, the News-Herald reports.
The News-Herald reports that the district was spending about $19 million more than it was taking in. Layoffs are expected, the News-Herald reports, but the number of teachers who will be laid off has not been released.
SOURCE: The News-Herald, “Taylor: Details of contract concessions reveal cuts to resolve district deficit,” Feb. 12, 2013
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Taylor School Board Approves Contract Forcing Teachers To Pay Union, Feb. 16, 2013, 

Fraser Public Schools Purchases 5,000 iPads for Students

FRASER, Mich. – Fraser Public Schools has purchased 5,000 iPads for district students, according to Patch.
Patch reports that the iPads were purchased using money from a $19.9 million bond passed in 2011. According to Patch, this is the largest deployment of iPads in Michigan, and one of the largest K-12 iPad deployments in the world.
Superintendent David Richards said in a statement, according to Patch, that the deployment is part of an effort to offer personalized learning to students.
“Our drive in Fraser to redesign our school district comes from a realization that we must provide our students with customized educational experiences that will prepare them to be successful in today’s college and work environment,” he said, according to Patch.
SOURCE: Patch, “Fraser Public Schools Wraps Up Largest iPad Deployment in Michigan History,” Feb. 16, 2013
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “Michigan Firm Develops iPad Math Programs,” April 13, 2010