Contents of this issue:
  • Some MEAP scores up, others down
  • Kent County school officials examine school choice policy
  • Children flee Detroit Public Schools
  • Montrose school payroll clerk charged with embezzlement
  • Kalamazoo-area schools use competitive contracting
  • Metro Detroit schools move elections to fall

LANSING, Mich. — Elementary and middle school students statewide improved scores on the math and reading portions of the Michigan Educational Assessment Program, but had lower scores in social studies, according to the Detroit Free Press.

MEAP results showed a 1 to 5 percentage point gain in math and a 2 to 4 percentage point increase in reading, the Free Press reported. Writing and science performances improved at some grade levels and were flat or decreased in other grades, according to the Free Press.

The state for two years has used Grade Level Content Expectations in teaching math and science in kindergarten through eighth grade, according to the Free Press.

"It's all about clarity," State Superintendent Mike Flanagan told the Free Press. "The teachers are great once they have a sense of what's expected."

Detroit Free Press, "MEAP math, reading scores improve," Jan. 22, 2007

Detroit Free Press, "Wayne Co. kids gain on MEAP," Jan. 23, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "MEAP scores down for grads," July 25, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "MEAP scores show mixed results," March 14, 2006

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — School administrators in Kent County have formed a committee to re-examine parts of their current public school choice practices, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

Although the committee discussed many alterations to the program, including allowing administrators to deny transfer applications and to request that parents specify to the assigned district the reasons they want their children to enroll in another district, there are likely to be few changes to the current policy, The Press reported.

Rockford Superintendent Michael Shibler opposes the proposed ways to limit public school choice.

"That's not choice," he told The Press. "I won't support something like that, and I don't think my school board would, either."

The group of students that could potentially be impacted by a countywide policy change would be students attending parochial and charter public schools. The group of administrators is looking to crack down on those students who can leave a private or charter school any time during the year to attend a conventional public school district other than the one to which they are assigned, The Press reported.

The Grand Rapid Press, "School choice plan faces changes," Jan. 13, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "Birmingham cracks down on residency fraud," Jan. 9, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "Thousands of parents exercise limited school choice rights," July 5, 2006

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Case for Choice in Schooling: Restoring Parental Control of Education," Jan. 29, 2001

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Impact of Limited School Choice on Public School Districts," July 24, 2000

DETROIT — About 51,000 school-aged children who live in Detroit attend other public school districts or charter public schools, according to The Detroit News.

Detroit Public Schools has seen enrollment drops of 10,000 students each year for the past few years, and saw an additional 5,000 students leave this fall, according to The News. The Detroit Federation of Teachers held an illegal strike that denied instruction to students for several days in September.

Because so many students opt out of Detroit schools, the district is no longer ranked as one of the 20 largest school districts in the country, The News reported.

Parents are leaving DPS for charter schools and districts in Warren, Clinton Township, Ecorse and Oak Park to seek better educational opportunities for their children, The News reported.

"Parents are expecting quality schools, and it is incumbent upon all of us to provide those schools," Dan Quisenberry, president of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies, told The News.

The Detroit News, "51,000 opt out of Detroit Schools," Jan. 15, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "Detroit Public Schools announces school closings," Jan. 9, 2007

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

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "School Budgets: A Crisis of Management, Not Finance," Feb. 11, 2005

MONTROSE, Mich. — A former Montrose school district payroll clerk is charged with embezzling $1.1 million over 10 years, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Dana Bacon, 42, allegedly wrote duplicate checks, falsified billing documents and made unauthorized payments to herself from 1996 until she was fired in December 2005, the Free Press reported. Last year, the district laid off 29 teachers and seven administrators in response to an $858,000 deficit, according to the Free Press.

"I put any layoffs or cutbacks squarely on (Bacon)," Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said, according to the Free Press. "The children of the school district suffered for this crime."

Bacon, who was arraigned Jan. 18, is facing one count of embezzlement over $20,000, five counts of using a computer to commit a crime and four counts of uttering and publishing, the Free Press reported. If convicted, she would face up to 24 years in prison, according to the Free Press.

Detroit Free Press, "Montrose school payroll clerk accused of embezzling $1.1 million" Jan. 19, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "Former MEA union employee sentenced in embezzlement case," Nov. 17, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Former MEA union employee pleads guilty," July 11, 2006

Michigan Education Report, "Financial scandals exposed in Michigan school districts," Nov. 17, 2002

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Approximately half of the Kalamazoo-area school districts have signed competitive contracts for their janitorial, food or transportation services, according to The Kalamazoo Gazette.

In the southwestern part of the state, 17 of 35 districts have contracted for at least one of these services. Comstock Public Schools Business Manager Todd Mora believes that the trend will continue, The Gazette reported.

"I predict it will increase, because districts are looking to save money on employee benefit costs, especially retirement," he told The Gazette.

A 2006 survey by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy found that 38 percent of Michigan school districts competitively contract for one or more non-instructional service, The Gazette reported.

The Kalamazoo Gazette, "Going private: Schools looking to contractors to save money on employee benefits," Jan. 14, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Brandywine schools pleased with new janitorial service," Jan. 16, 2007

Michigan Privatization Report, "Survey 2006: School Outsourcing Continues to Grow," Dec. 21, 2006

Michigan Education Report, "Beyond brooms, burgers and buses," Nov. 21, 2006

DETROIT — Seven districts in metro Detroit have moved elections to the fall, and others are considering it, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Avondale, Berkley, Birmingham, Rochester, Royal Oak, Waterford and Lake Shore school districts have aligned their elections with those of other local units of government as costs have increased for districts that hold stand-alone elections in May. Bloomfield Hills is currently considering a switch, according to the Free Press.

Opponents of the switch claim moving elections will put education issues on the back burner on an already full ballot. Proponents claim that districts will not only see cost savings, but will see an increase in voter turnout as well, according to the Free Press.

"It saves a lot of taxpayer money. It provides more money for education. It makes it easier for the voter," Oakland County Clerk Ruth Johnson told the Free Press.

For many districts, the cost of holding elections in May has increased significantly. The Huron Valley Schools has seen its costs increase by more than $30,000, the Free Press reported.

Johnson said that districts in Oakland County could save a combined $1 million by moving all of their elections to November, according to the Free Press.

Detroit Free Press, "School election shift to fall," Jan. 14, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "Lansing area school districts could move election dates," Jan. 9, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "Avondale moves elections to November," Dec. 12, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Rochester moves school board elections, lengthens terms," Nov. 14, 2006

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Secret Ballot?" May 22, 2006

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

Contact Managing Editor Sarah Grether at

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