Contents of this issue:
  • Grand Rapids school board votes against Proposal 5
  • Detroit enrollment could fall 25,000
  • Saginaw board president: schools could offer merit pay
  • Flint-area charter public schools growing
  • Home-schooled student gets academic scholarship
  • School bond faces lawsuit
  • Public school employees disciplined for bus incident

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Grand Rapids Public Schools board of education voted 6-2 against supporting a ballot measure that would mandate funding increases for public schools, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

Proposal 5, which will be on the November ballot, would require the Legislature to spend an extra $567 million on K-12, in addition to the $400 million already budgeted, The Press reported. It also would shift increases in retirement costs for school personnel to the state, with no connection to student performance or school accountability.

The Press also pointed out that by voting against supporting the plan, the coalition supporting Proposal 5 is denied a "back door" way of advertising the issue in Grand Rapids. The law prevents schools from spending public dollars to support ballot issues, but they can mention how the board voted in its publications, including explanations from board members on why they voted the way they did.

The Grand Rapids Press, "School board blasted for not backing ballot issue," Sept. 20, 2006 &thispage=1

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "An Analysis of Proposal 5: The "K-16" Michigan Ballot Measure," Sept. 12, 2006

Michigan Education Report, "Mandatory expenditure increase faces uphill battle," May 25, 2006

DETROIT — Detroit Public Schools is expecting an enrollment drop of 25,000 students, according to The Detroit News.

An illegal strike by the Detroit Federation of Teachers union delayed the start of school for 16 days, and is the cause of the enrollment drop, district officials have said. If the drop in enrollment is as large as officials predict, it would mean $190 million less in state funding for DPS, The News reported.

The state's "count day" is Sept. 27. Enrollment on that day is partly used to determine how much tax money is given to public schools.

The district conducted its own count on Sept. 20 and found more than 99,000 students were in school, according to The News. That was up from 89,000 a day before. Enrollment last year was about 129,000, and the district was projecting 9,400 fewer students before the strike.

The Detroit News, "Detroit Public Schools predicts loss of 25,000 this fall," Sept. 21, 2006

The Detroit News, "DPS loses 25,000 students," Sept. 22, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Classes resume after Detroit teachers end illegal strike," Sept. 19, 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

SAGINAW, Mich. — The president of the Saginaw schools board of education said the next teacher contract talks should include a discussion of merit pay, according to The Saginaw News.

A recently approved contract gives teachers a 1 percent raise, with pay increases based on seniority and education level.

"I'm sure there's people who deserve more (than 1 percent)," board President Norman C. Braddock told The News. "I don't believe in giving people raises just to give them a raise. You have to earn it."

Mary Ann Dupuis, president of the Saginaw teachers union, said she will listen to ideas, but does not think the members will be supportive. Dupuis told The News that teachers already have to meet state and federal standards, thereby proving themselves before entering the classroom.

The Saginaw News, "School board president floats merit pay increases, Sept. 15, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Teachers accept incentives in new contracts," Aug. 15, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Grand Rapids administrators could get incentive-based raises," July 19, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Grand Rapids teachers agree to incentive-based pay," June 27, 2006

FLINT, Mich. — Parents of almost 6,000 students in the Flint area have chosen to send their children to charter public schools, rather than the conventional public schools to which they have been assigned, according to The Flint Journal.

Some 5,900 students are enrolled in 12 Flint-area charter public schools, up from 5,682 last year, The Journal reported. One of the biggest increases was seen at International Academy of Flint, which has more than 150 new students, and about 875 overall.

Many parents are choosing charters because they are unhappy with Flint schools, including a plan to move ninth graders out of one high school, according to The Journal.

"That whole ninth-grade thing is just a fiasco," parent Tameka Thompson told The Journal. "They really don't have a home for these kids, and I don't know if this plan is solid."

Thompson decided to send two of her three children to the International Academy. A third child will remain in Flint Public Schools because she did not meet the academic standards for the charter school, The Journal reported.

Flint Superintendent Walter Milton Jr. told The Journal the district expects enrollment to be down less than the 800 students originally projected.

Dan Quisenberry, president of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies, told The Journal that charter school enrollment has been growing 9 to 12 percent a year statewide. Total enrollment across Michigan is expected to top 100,000 this year, with about 12,000 students on waiting lists.

The Flint Journal, "Charters grow," Sept. 14, 2006

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Public Schools Can Provide a Choice to Every Parent," Sept. 12, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Flint schools prepare for enrollment drop," May 2, 2006

SAGINAW, Mich. — A home-schooled student has received an Award of Excellence Scholarship at Saginaw Valley State University, which covers all of her tuition and some costs for four years, according to The Saginaw News.

Jillian Bourbina, home-schooled since seventh grade, maintained a 3.9 grade point average during her high school years and scored a 29 on the ACT, The News reported.

Bourbina's older sister, Bethany, also received the scholarship, according to The News. She is now a third-year nursing student at SVSU.

"We welcome home-schoolers to the university," Jim Dwyer, assistant vice president of enrollment and admission at SVSU, told The News. "They have been good stewards."

The Saginaw News, "Home school grad nets tuition award," Aug. 31, 2006

Michigan Education Report, "Pioneering new methods in education; Jackson home schoolers share resources, knowledge," Sept. 6, 2006

Michigan Education Report, "Home schooling in Detroit; responsibility and unique preparation," Dec. 15, 2005

COOPERSVILLE, Mich. — A $41 million school bond in Coopersville is in question as residents accuse school officials of misleading voters, according to The Muskegon Chronicle.

Ottawa County Circuit Court Judge Jon Van Allsburg scheduled a Sept. 27 trial after finding there are "disputed facts" in the case, The Chronicle reported. Resident Shirley Draft has accused the district of misleading voters through a newsletter and other statements.

Van Allsburg dismissed other counts, including claims of misleading ballot language and an improper recount, according to The Chronicle. The bond originally passed by three votes in May, and was up by four votes after a partial recount.

Draft has alleged that school officials misled voters by saying the bond would cost 0.54 mill over 30 years, but did not fully explain that the new debt would be combined with older debt, The Chronicle reported. Stephen Corwin, Draft's attorney, said the bond itself would carry a 4.5 mill levy for 30 years.

Kirk Herald, the district's attorney, denies the claims, and told The Chronicle that school officials set up a hotline to help answer voters' questions.

The district planned to use the bond to build a middle school and bus garage.

The Muskegon Chronicle, "Lawsuit puts school improvements on hold," Sept. 12, 2006

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Current Problems in School Bonding," May 1, 1998

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Bonded to Privatization," March 1, 1998

HOWELL, Mich. — A bus driver and bus aide who work for the Livingston Educational Service Agency have been suspended without pay for three days after a student was dropped off at the wrong location, according to the Livingston Daily Press & Argus.

A 6-year-old nonverbal student could not tell the two school employees he was at the wrong stop, and the mistake was not discovered until after the bus had left, the Press & Argus reported.

"Essentially, it was a matter of not performing their functions in the way they should have," Mike Hubert, assistant superintendent for LESA, told the Press & Argus. "They're definitely caring people, well intentioned, but in that instance they did not perform the job the way it should have been done." The union representing the bus driver has 10 days to file a grievance against the suspension, according to the Press & Argus.

Livingston Daily Press & Argus, "Bus driver, aide suspended," Sept. 20, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Driver fired for abandoning students," June 13, 2006

Michigan Education Report, "Competitive contracting grows despite myths," Sept. 6, 2006

MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (, a quarterly newspaper with a circulation of 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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