Contents of this issue:
  • Jackson school board approves light discipline of administrator
  • Livingston county schools to save money with contracted subs
  • WMU president fired
  • A dozen groups want to help DPS dropouts
  • Michigan students about average on ACT
  • Detroit teachers discuss illegal strike

JACKSON, Mich. — The Jackson Public Schools board of education approved light discipline of an administrator who allegedly allowed a teacher's aide convicted of drug dealing to continue working with students, according to The Jackson Citizen Patriot.

William Patterson, a middle school assistant principal, received a "letter of concern" from the district, which is the least serious form of discipline, The Citizen Patriot reported. The school board issued a statement supporting that action.

The Citizen Patriot reported that Patterson knew Tonia M. Jones had pleaded guilty to cocaine-related charges in 2003, but did not report the matter to district officials. Jones served 60-day sentences during the summer months while still employed by the district, but was fired Feb. 1 after being sent to prison for continued drug activity, according to The Citizen Patriot.

Patterson's union argued that he was not obligated to inform the district of Jones's conviction because of "confidentiality issues," The Citizen-Patriot reported.

The Jackson Citizen Patriot, "Board stands by its man," Aug. 16, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Some convicted felons still working in schools," July 5, 2005

Michigan Education Digest, "List of felons forwarded to schools," May 16, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Court seals data on school employees with criminal backgrounds," Jan. 31, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "School employee background check turns up felons," Jan. 24, 2006

BRIGHTON, Mich. — The five public school districts in Livingston County expect to save tens of thousands of dollars now that a competitive contract is in place for substitute teachers, according to The Ann Arbor News.

The Livingston Educational Service Agency signed a contract with Caledonia-based Professional Educational Services Group to handle payroll and assignment duties for several hundred substitute teachers, The News reported.

Brian Higgins, assistant superintendent for the Pinckney district, said the move will help schools control costs. Pinckney also has competitive contracts in place for its cafeteria and busing services.

"I understand some teachers may not be happy with not being part of the retirement system," Higgins told The News. "The retirement system is very costly and is going up at skyrocketing rates. This is an effort by the districts in the county to come up with ways to reduce costs and work more efficiently with each other."

Individual districts will save 8 percent of what they had been paying, according to The News. Brighton Superintendent Jim Craig told the newspaper his district will save about $40,000 a year.

The Ann Arbor News, "Teacher subs go private in county; Livingston officials say move will save districts money," Aug. 14, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Houghton Lake to privatize substitute teachers," July 25, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Substitute teachers privatized in Grand Rapids," May 9, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Privatized subs can save schools money," April 11, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Fennville district to outsource substitute teachers," March 23, 2004

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Judith I. Bailey was fired as president of Western Michigan University recently as trustees expressed concerns over lower enrollment and higher costs, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

Trustees called a special meeting Aug. 15, voting to fire Bailey eight months after they extended her $269,000-a-year contract through 2009, The Press reported.

"I see no reason that a university as great as Western Michigan University should be having problems that are dissimilar to those at other public universities in the state," Chairman James Holden said after the meeting, according to The Press.

Enrollment at WMU under Bailey is down 15 percent, and the 2007 budget includes an $8.3 million deficit, The Press reported.

The board earlier had offered Bailey a $400,000 buy-out, which she rejected. Bailey told The Press she believes she can lead the university through this difficult time, and expects her contract to be honored.

The Grand Rapids Press, "Western Michigan University fires president," Aug. 15, 2006

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Bringing the Market to the Ivory Tower," Dec. 15, 2004

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "State College Money Should Follow Students, Not Lobbyists," May 15, 2006

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan's public schools will receive an increase in state funding for the 2006-2007 school year, according to The Detroit News.

The School Aid Fund will go up by $337 million when the state's new fiscal year begins Oct. 1, pushing the amount of funding for public schools to more than $13 billion, The News reported.

Minimum per-pupil funding will increase by $210, to $7,085, with some districts receiving more than $11,000 per student, according to The News.

Some $100 million in state funding will be spent on preschools, while middle schools will receive extra money for math and science instruction, The News reported.

The Detroit News, "Public schools, colleges get raise in state budget," Aug. 16, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Foundation grant to increase again," July 11, 2006

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "School Funding: Lack of Money or Lack of Money Management?" Aug. 30, 2001

DETROIT — A dozen businesses and groups want to run alternative high schools to help dropouts in Detroit, according to The Detroit News.

"There's a population of 15,000 kids that fall into that category," Hildred Pepper, chief contracting officer for Detroit Public Schools, told The News. "So definitely the need is out there."

The alternative schools are for students ages 16 to 19. They would operate as contract schools, meaning they have union teachers, but more flexibility on how the building operates, according to The News. The schools, which can focus on vocational and career training, also receive up to 80 percent of the per-pupil funding that conventional schools receive.

The Detroit News, "12 groups submit proposals for Detroit alternative high schools," July 29, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Study: Detroit graduation rate worst in nation," June 27, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "DPS students leave rather than relocate," June 6, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Detroit Public Schools enrollment drops again," Nov. 29, 2005

LANSING, Mich. — Only 25 percent of Michigan's class of 2006 are considered "college ready" in English, math, reading and science, based on ACT scores, according to Booth Newspapers.

That level of proficiency means a student has a 75 percent chance of getting a grade C or better in a college course, Booth reported. Overall, the class of 2006 scored an average of 21.5 on the ACT, slightly higher than the national average of 21.1, according to Booth. The ACT has a maximum score of 36.

Booth Newspapers, "Michigan students just above average on ACT," Aug. 16, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "ACT scheduled to take place of MEAP in 2007," Sept. 27, 2005

Michigan Education Digest, "Group looks to replace MEAP with ACT," Dec. 23, 2003

Michigan Education Report, "Which Educational Achievement Test is Best for Michigan?" Early Fall 2002

DETROIT — Detroit Public Schools teachers say they plan to take picket signs with them Sunday when they vote on whether or not to strike, according to the Detroit Free Press. It is illegal under Michigan law for teachers to strike.

Detroit teachers are scheduled to report Aug. 28, with classes beginning Sept. 5. The Free Press reported that Detroit teachers also took picket signs with them to a similar meeting in 1999, which was a precursor to a strike that lasted six days.

DFT President Janna Garrison told the Free Press the union and district are "far apart" in contract negotiations. The union wants a 15.6 percent pay raise for teachers at the top of the pay scale, while Superintendent William F. Coleman III said the district needs to cut $88 million.

Coleman added that teacher salaries and benefits consume $832 million of the district's $1.4 billion budget, according to the Free Press.

The district is confident the school year will start on time.

"We're confident that our teachers, who are among the best and who have an unbridled passion for our children, will come to work as expected," DPS spokesman Lekan Oguntoyinbo told the Free Press.

Detroit Free Press, "Teachers ready picket signs," Aug. 21, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "DPS to cut jobs; unions reject concessions," July 5, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Detroit teachers union wants more money," June 27, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Study: Detroit graduation rate worst in the nation," June 27, 2006

MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (, a quarterly newspaper with a circulation of nearly 150,000 published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (, a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Ted O'Neil at

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