February 26, 2013

Contents of this issue:

  • K-12 budget chair interested in tying money to RTW compliance
  • Bill proposed to let Michigan schools opt out of common core
  • Scammers use Pell Grant to collect millions
  • Grand Blanc highest-paid superintendent in Genesee County
  • DPS school board wins in Wayne County Circuit Court
  • West Michigan Virtual seeing signs of success

K-12 Budget Chair Interested in Tying Money to RTW Compliance

LANSING, Mich. – Rep. Bill Rogers, R-Brighton, says he’s concerned about districts that are circumventing a new right-to-work law by extending collective bargaining agreements before the law goes into effect, according to MIRS News (subscription required).

Rep. Rogers told MIRS News that if school officials renegotiate longer contracts with unions that provide real savings for the school district, he thinks they should qualify for performance funding.
According to MIRS News, Gov. Rick Snyder has also voiced concern over the practice of extending union contracts to avoid right-to-work.
MIRS News reports that Rep. Al Pscholka, R-Stevensville, is proposing universities qualify for $100 million in special state funding if they decline to adopt lengthy contracts designed to avoid the state right-to-work law, among other practices.
SOURCE: MIRS News, “Rogers OK Linking K-12 Money to Resisting RTW End-Around,” Feb. 20, 2013 (Subscription required)
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Taylor School Board Approves Contract Forcing Teachers To Pay Union," Feb. 16, 2013

Bill Proposed to Let Michigan Schools Opt Out of Common Core

LANSING, Mich. – Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester, has proposed a bill to allow schools to choose whether to participate in the federal Common Core Standards Initiative, according to the Rochester Patch.

“The federal government should not dictate what is taught in every classroom in the nation, especially in Michigan,” Rep. McMillin told the Rochester Patch.
Deborah DeBacker, a community activist and mother of three, told the Rochester Patch that “If we do not stop the implementation of Common Core in Michigan and its related testing, when parents do not like what is taught to their child, they will have to go to Washington or some out-of-state consortium to get any changes.”
SOURCE: The Rochester Patch, “McMillin Bill Would Let Michigan Schools Opt Out of Common Curriculum,” Feb. 22, 2013
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “National Education Standards Will Stifle Innovation," April 26, 2011

Scammers Use Pell Grant to Collect Millions

DETROIT – An estimated 3.6 percent of Pell Grant recipients are collecting the money fraudulently, according to Livingston Daily Press & Argus.

The Press & Argus reports that about 10 percent of the money that Henry Ford Community College received in Pell Grants — $4.1 million — needs to be paid back.
According to the Press & Argus, Pell Grants can be used to pay for tuition, rent and groceries, among other costs. The maximum a student can collect per year, the Press & Argus reports, is $5,500. Fraud is prevalent at community colleges, according to the Press & Argus, because of the low tuition rates.
Some students register for classes, keep the Pell Grant money that’s left over after paying for tuition, and never show up for class, the Press & Argus reports.
SOURCE: The Livingston Daily Press & Argus, “Pell Grant scammers cheating Michigan colleges out of millions,” Feb. 18, 2013
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Collapse of Higher-Ed Bubble Draws Near,” Jan. 14, 2013

Grand Blanc Highest Compensated Superintendent in Genesee County

GRAND BLANC, Mich. – Grand Blanc Superintendent Norm Abdella is the highest-compensated superintendent in Genesee County, according to MLive.

Abdella’s total compensation is $252,520 per year, though he told MLive that he doesn’t collect any of the $20,819 annuity included in his contract.
Abdella is the 18th-highest compensated superintendent in the state, according to MLive’s review of a superintendent compensation database posted by the Mackinac Center.
“I’m not looking for any pats on the back, because I’m paid very well, as you can see,” Abdella told MLive.
SOURCE: MLive, “Mackinac Center report gives a look at which Genesee County superintendents are making the most money,” Feb. 21, 2013
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Michigan Public School Superintendent Compensation Database,” February 2013

DPS School Board Wins in Wayne County Circuit Court

DETROIT – A Wayne County Circuit Court judge ruled that the Detroit school board has authority over academic decisions, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The Free Press reports that the school district’s emergency financial manger cannot override the school board. However, the board will enjoy this authority for less than a month, according to the Free Press. A new state law taking effect on March 27 will strip the school board of its authority over academic operations and the district budget, the Free Press reports.
SOURCE: The Detroit Free Press, “Detroit school board scores temporary victory in struggle with state over control,” Feb. 20, 2013
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Charter Public Schools Give Detroit Schoolchildren Hope, Feb. 8, 2013

West Michigan Virtual Seeing Signs of Success

GREENVILLE, Mich. – Just six months after opening, West Michigan Virtual is already seeing signs of success, according to the Greenville Daily News.

The Daily News reports that 126 students are attending West Michigan Virtual and have completed 600 credit hours, and that four students have graduated from the program.
The school offers credit recovery programs and internships with 27 nearby businesses, according to the Daily News.
West Michigan Virtual opened in Greenville after partnering with the Berrien Springs school district, the Daily News reports. The school will be expanding again soon: The Central Montcalm School Board recently voted to open West Michigan Virtual-Central Montcalm, according the Daily News. The school will operate inside of a closed elementary school building, according to the Daily News.
SOURCE: The Greenville Daily News, “West Michigan Virtual school making the grade after six months,” Feb. 23, 2013
FURTHER VIEWING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Beyond the Classroom – Virtual Learning in Michigan Schools, May 24, 2011