September 17, 2013

Contents of this issue:

  • Muskegon Heights charter district under pressure
  • $10M proposed for school air conditioners
  • 56 districts create overspending crisis
  • More than 160 schools identified as ‘focus’ for first time
  • Schools advertise to boost enrollment

Muskegon Heights Charter District Under Pressure

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. – “Muskegon Heights Emergency Manager Donald Weatherspoon has threatened to fire the charter school operator if the operator isn’t in “100 percent compliance,” according to MLive.

MLive reports that an agreement stipulates that the operator, Mosaica Education Inc., must increase student academic growth by at least 1.25 years each year. According to MLive, Muskegon Heights students saw one year of growth last year.
Arthur Scott, president of the Muskegon Heights charter school board, told MLive that if that growth target isn’t met, “consequences will be with Mosaica, period.”
Mosaica President Gene Eidelman defended the charter company’s operations, MLive reports. Eidelman wrote that “vicious and unfounded attacks” have come from those “less knowledgeable.”

He continued, according to MLive, saying that “We are confident that anyone who knows what things were like in years past… will conclude that the progress that has been achieved in just four months is extraordinary.”

SOURCES: MLive, “Pressure on Mosaica to improve Muskegon Heights schools growing, documents show,” Sept. 6, 2013
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Charter School Results Proving ACLU Lawsuit Wrong," Aug. 20, 2013

$10M Proposed for School Air Conditioners

LANSING, Mich. – Rep. Andy Schor, D-Lansing, has introduced a bill that would provide $10 million in funds for schools to install air conditioning, according to MLive.

Rep. Schor says the proposal is to help school districts transition to year-round schooling, MLive reports. Many schools have tried year-round schooling, according to MLive, including in the Warren and at Holt districts.

MLive reports that schools with year-round schooling will not provide more hours of instruction, but rather students will be in class for the same number of days as students on a conventional calendar. According to MLive, districts must also obtain a waiver from a law that requires schools to start after Labor Day.

SOURCE: MLive,“Year-round school transition fund proposed, would help schools change calendar,” Sept. 15, 2013  
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “Warren Latest District to Try Year-Round School,” Aug. 6, 2013

56 Districts Create Overspending Crisis

LANSING, Mich. – The Detroit News reports that 56 school districts or charter public schools have a self-created overspending crisis, and that Detroit, Flint, Pontiac and Benton Harbor are overspending by more than $14 million each.

Overall, 22 districts have reduced their overspending, while 14 have increased, according to The News.
The News reports that Gov. Rick Snyder has declared a financial emergency in the Pontiac school district, and the Department of Treasury is working on a consent agreement for the district to use to reduce its overspending.
According to The News, reviews are underway for other districts as well.
SOURCE: Detroit News, “State adds 6 school districts to its deficit watch list,” Sept. 12, 2013

FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Increased School Funding Did Not Slow Districts in Deficit,” June 8,

More Than 160 Schools Identified as ‘Focus’ for First Time

LANSING, Mich. – Nearly half of the 349 ‘focus’ schools identified by the Michigan Department of Education this year are on the list for the first time, according to MLive. Focus schools are those the state has identified as having the largest achievement gap between the top 30 percent and bottom 30 percent of students, MLive reports.

Priority schools, which are schools ranked among the bottom 5 percent on the state’s ranking, had similar variation according to MLive. Of the 137 schools identified as ‘priority,’ more than a third were on the list for the first time, MLive reports.
SOURCE: MLive, “Three Jackson Public Schools elementary schools join Frost, Parkside, on state priority list,” Aug. 20, 2013
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Meaningful School Reform Needed,” Aug. 29,

Schools Advertise to Boost Enrollment

LANSING, Mich. – Schools throughout the state are using radio and television advertisements, as well as billboards, to attract new students, according to The Detroit News.

The News reports that this advertising effort is done in the buildup to fall Count Day, which will be held on Oct. 2 and can dramatically impact a school’s funding.
The Madison school district, according to The News, has asked the state to extend the duration the district can accept nonresident students. Madison Superintendent Randy Speck told The News that for every 4 percentage points that enrollment increases, the district will boost teachers’ pay by 1 percent.
“It’s got to be a whole team effort,” he told The News.

SOURCE: The Detroit News, “Schools step up student recruiting to keep state aid,” Sept. 12, 2013
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “School Marketing is A-OK,” April 29, 2013