March 4, 2014

Contents of this issue:

  • Kent County ISD announces Schools of Choice enrollment
  • Steelcase donates building to charter public school
  • Superintendents pushing for pre-Labor Day start
  • Lincoln finance director resigns
  • Issues & Ideas forum on school collective bargaining

Kent County ISD Announces Schools of Choice Enrollment

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Families in the Kent County Intermediate School District can enroll students who wish to attend a school district other than the one to which the government has assigned them starting April 14, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

The Press reports that last year, 2,090 out of 3,900 open seats were filled by students switching districts. That amounted to about 2 percent of all students in the ISD.
Grandville Public Schools, for example, gained 250 students, which meant an additional $1.7 million in funding, The Press reported.

SOURCE: MLive,“Families interested in Schools of Choice can begin submitting applications April 14,” Feb. 24, 2014

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “School Choice Benefits Students," Feb. 4, 2013

Steelcase Donates Building to Charter Public School

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Furniture maker Steelcase is donating a 664,000-square-foot former research facility near Grand Rapids for use as an “education hub” that will focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (also known as “STEM”) according to The Detroit News.

“The state is in desperate need of STEM-certified students and students with a STEM background,” Jerry Zandstra, co-founder of iCademy, an online charter public school, told the Associated Press. “The program will focus on STEM plus arts education and our vision is not to have unrelated schools in a building, but for it to be truly a hub with the integration of STEM education at all levels and at all ranges.”
SOURCE: The Detroit News,“Steelcase donating its pyramid-shaped building as education hub,” Feb. 26, 2014
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy“NEA Recognizes Need for STEM Teachers,” Oct. 3, 2014

Superintendents Pushing for Pre-Labor Day Start

COLDWATER, Mich. – Coldwater Superintendent Tina Kerr is among a group of school superintendents statewide looking to repeal the state law that mandates schools cannot begin classes until after Labor Day, according to WTVB AM1590.

Kerr said the issue has particularly garnered attention this winter due to a large number of districts that will have to make up days lost to winter weather in June, WTVB reported. Kerr said beginning the school year in August gives districts more options for making up lost days, according to WTVB.
SOURCE: WTBV,“Coldwater superintendent works to repeal after-Labor Day start requirement for Michigan schools,” Feb. 26, 2014
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest,“More Schools Want to Start Class Before Labor Day,” Sept. 3, 2013

Lincoln Finance Director Resigns

YPSILANTI, Mich. – The finance director for Lincoln Consolidated Schools has resigned after 15 months on the job over what he sees as a lack of cooperation among administrators to solve the district’s $700,000 overspending crisis, according to The Ann Arbor News.

Carl Vannatter, who joined the district after working in the private sector for several years, said union concessions are needed to get the district out of the red, The News reported.
“We’re clearly in significant financial stress,” Vannatter told The News. “To say that I’m discouraged is an understatement. I have been unsuccessful in getting the message across to enough people.”
SOURCE: Ann Arbor News,“Finance director for Lincoln schools resigns as district remains embroiled in money woes,” Feb. 26 2014
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential,“Mismanagement Often to Blame for School District Financial Troubles,” Jan. 13, 2014

Issues & Ideas Forum on School Collective Bargaining

MIDLAND, Mich. – An Issues & Ideas forum hosted by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy on March 31 will examine whether or not school districts in Michigan have complied with various state laws passed in 2011 designed to help school officials retain and reward effective teachers. The Mackinac Center publishes Michigan Education Digest.

The forum is scheduled from noon to 1 p.m. on March 31 at the Michigan Restaurant Association in Lansing. For more information please visit http://www.mackinac.org/19799.