July 30, 2013

Contents of this issue:

  • Inkster school district dissolved
  • Panel recommends using student growth to measure performance
  • Covert heavily relies on one taxpayer
  • EAA school offers 11-month school year
  • New DPS EM plans for future

Inkster School District Dissolved

INKSTER, Mich. – The Wayne Regional Education Service Agency voted to dissolve the Inkster school district under a new state law, according to The Detroit News.

The News reports that 2,200 school-age children live in Inkster, and that fewer than half attend Inkster schools. According to The News, the other 1,200 students already attend other districts using Schools of Choice.
The News reports that the remaining Inkster students will attend one of the four surrounding school districts: Taylor, Wayne-Westland, Westwood or Romulus. According to The News, all Inkster employees will be laid off, including 91 teachers.
SOURCE: The Detroit News, “Michigan education officials dissolve Inkster school district,” July 25, 2013 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Inkster Schools Wrongly Blames Previous Emergency Financial Manager for Its Deficit," Aug. 31, 2012

Panel Recommends Using Student Growth to Measure Performance

LANSING, Mich. – A panel of educators has recommended a new evaluation system for Michigan public school teachers and those recommendations were submitted to Gov. Rick Snyder, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The Free Press reports that teachers who are rated ineffective for three years in a row would be dismissed.  According to the Free Press just 5 percent of a teacher’s evaluation would depend on schoolwide student growth.
According to the Free Press, teacher pay and raises would not be tied to evaluations if state officials adopted the panel’s recommendations.
SOURCE: The Detroit Free Press, Michigan teachers’ jobs would depend on evaluations, student test scores under new proposal,” July 25, 2013 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Dozens of School Districts Consider All Teachers the Same,” April 17, 2013

Covert Heavily Relies on One Taxpayer

COVERT, Mich. – Covert Public Schools could close if it does not receive $2.5 million in loans or in property tax revenue from a nearby electrical-generating plant, according to MLive.

MLive reports officials say that the New Covert Generating Co. owes $9.2 million in back property taxes. According to MLive, Covert is the only school district in the area that relies on property taxes, instead of on state funding.
A Grand Rapids tax attorney told MLive that that setup makes Covert “very vulnerable when someone decides not to pay their taxes.”
According to MLive, the plant’s owners have contested its tax assessment in the past, lowering its assessed valuation by about 40 percent.
MLive reports that the district previously ran into financial trouble when the plant first opened in 2004, because the superintendent went on a “spending spree” in anticipation of the new tax revenue. According to MLive, those expenditures, including a new gym and renovation of the administrative office, cost the district $900,000 each year – 12.5 percent of its budget. 
SOURCE: MLive, “Ongoing tax dispute may force Covert Public Schools to close its doors,” July 27, 2013
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “Covert asks for cash advance,” Oct. 8, 2010

EAA School Offers 11-Month School Year

DETROIT – The Brenda Scott Academy for Theater Arts offers an 11-month-long school year, according to MLive. The school is now part of the Education Achievement Authority, the statewide reform district, MLive reports.

According to MLive, the EAA has implemented a longer school day and school year at Brenda Scott — and the model appears to be working. Principal Marques Stewart told MLive that 63 percent of students demonstrated at least 1.5 years of growth in math during the past school year.
According to MLive, incoming students enter Brenda Scott approximately two or more grade levels behind, and 86 percent are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.
SOURCE: MLive, “The school year is 11 months long at Detroit EAA’s Brenda Scott Academy,” July 26, 2013 
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “The Michigan Context and Performance Report Card: Public Elementary & Middle Schools, 2013,” July 2013

New DPS EM Plans For Future

DETROIT – Jack Martin, Detroit Public Schools’ new emergency manager, has begun planning for the district’s future, according to The Detroit News.

Martin is a certified public accountant and former Marine, according to The News. “You have to get the deficit down without borrowing,” he told The News. “You do that by increasing enrollment.”
The News reports that DPS is working with Target Corp. to develop an employee training program that will focus on customer service. Martin also told The News that he will focus on improving safety at DPS schools.
According to The News, Martin has reviewed DPS crime stats and is working with the district’s public safety chief to identify specific problem areas and to add more officers and volunteers to those areas.
SOURCE: The Detroit News, “New Detroit Public Schools EM gets a look at classrooms, challenges ahead,” July 28, 2013
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “Using new EM law, Roy Roberts fires DPS superintendent,” April 2, 2013