Contents of this issue:
  • DPS hires new superintendent effective immediately
  • Ontonagon support staff receives pay increase
  • Accountability forces charter public school to close
  • Pfizer employees explore teaching career options
  • DPS suspends two administrators
  • New issue of Michigan Education Report; win an iPod

DETROIT — A divided Detroit Public Schools board voted late last Thursday night to hire a new superintendent and cancel its contract with William F. Coleman III, according to The Detroit News.

Connie Calloway, currently superintendent of the Normandy, Mo., schools, inherits a district facing a $200 million deficit and planning to close 52 schools this year, The News reported. The News also reported that Calloway's first superintendent job ended when the board of education in that district voted to terminate her contract early.

The News did not give specific information about when the termination occurred or what school district it was, but the Dayton Daily News reported that Calloway's contract with Trotwood-Madison City Schools in Ohio was terminated in 2003. Teachers in that district complained of low morale due to involuntary staffing changes, according to the Daily News. The Trotwood board placed Calloway on leave, then paid her $200,000 to buyout her remaining contract, the Daily News reported.

Detroit schools have lost more students per year — about 10,000 -for the past several years than the 5,700 students in the district Calloway oversaw in Missouri, The News reported.

"This candidate is not qualified to come to this district to handle the challenges this district is facing," DPS Board Member Jonathan Kinloch said, according to The News. Kinloch also said Calloway is a supporter of charter public schools, The News reported.

Wendell Wood, a former Detroit teacher, told The News Calloway is the right choice.

"They did a search and got qualified finalists," he told The News. "She is highly qualified in administration, finance and improving test scores."

The Detroit News, "Calloway picked to lead Detroit Public Schools," March 8, 2007

Dayton Daily News, "Former Trotwood superintendent to lead Detroit schools," March 12, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Former DPS CEO Grudgingly Testified to the Benefits of Educational Liberty," Aug. 10, 2005

Michigan Education Digest, "Sudden changes in DPS superintendent search," Dec. 19, 2006

Michigan Education Report, "DPS enrollment down by thousands," Feb. 23, 2007

ONTONAGON, Mich. — Support personnel in the Ontonagon Area Schools will receive a 2 percent pay increase in exchange for accepting a less costly version of health insurance purchased from the Michigan Education Special Services Association, according to The Daily Mining Gazette.

The Ontonagon Education Support Personnel Association, which represents 27 bus drivers, cooks, custodians and secretaries, will switch from SuperCare I to Choices II, The Gazette reported. The insurance is contracted through MESSA, a third-party administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association, a school employees union.

Teachers in the district agreed to the same switch last year, according to The Gazette.

"These are tough times so people are giving and everybody's doing what they can to make it work," Superintendent Matt Lukshaitis told The Gazette.

The Daily Mining Gazette, "Ontonagon school board approves support staff contract amendment," March 1, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "MESSA insists: 'we do not earn profits,'" March 6, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "Require MESSA data-sharing to let districts shop around," Dec. 15, 2005

Michigan Education Report, "Berrien ISD settles contract, rejects MESSA," Feb. 27, 2007

HART, Mich. — Lakeshore Public Academy will close at the end of this school year due to low test scores and declining enrollment, according to The Muskegon Chronicle.

"They just don't think it will continue to be viable financially with the number of students they have, and the responsibility to implement new (state) high school requirements," Edward Richardson, director of charter schools for Grand Valley State University, told The Chronicle. GVSU authorized the Lakeshore charter.

Richardson said GVSU was concerned with the school's test scores, particularly on the Michigan Educational Assessment Program, according to The Chronicle.

"We believe the board did take into consideration their finances and (students' academic) performance, and they made an appropriate decision for their students," Richardson told The Chronicle.

About 100 students attend the K-12 school, most of them of high school age, The Chronicle reported.

The Muskegon Chronicle, "Lakeshore Academy charter school to close," March 5, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "Charters make strides on MEAP tests," Feb. 23, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "Choice and Accountability in Public Schools," Oct. 16, 2006

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — About 175 Pfizer employees, many of them scientists who already hold doctorate degrees, would have to return to school for a year in order to be qualified to teach science and math to Michigan school students, according to The Detroit News.

About 175 employees attended a meeting at the University of Michigan, which offers a one-year program for professionals who wish to earn a master's degree in education and be certified to teach, The News reported. About 120 employees attended a similar meeting at Eastern Michigan University.

Pfizer announced it will close its Ann Arbor office in 2008, according to The News.

"This is going to be a big need for this state," University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman told The News in reference to new state-mandated high school graduation requirements that place an emphasis on math and science.

According to Michigan Education Report, several other states employ teachers who are certified through alternative programs that do not require additional degrees. These programs, such as the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence, are designed for working professionals with content expertise who wish to change careers.

The Detroit News, "Pfizer workers explore teaching prospects," March 9, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "Michigan lags behind some states; Alternative teacher certification," Nov. 21, 2006

Michigan Education Report, "Teacher shortage feared; many blame cumbersome certification rules of dubious value," Dec. 31, 2001

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Must Teachers be Certified to be Qualified?" Feb. 1, 1999

DETROIT — The chief financial officer and a cash manager for Detroit Public Schools were placed on leave last week as the district investigates wire transfers to contractors, according to The Detroit News.

CFO Dori Freelain and Delores Brown, cash manager, were placed on leave by Superintendent William Coleman III, The News reported. Joyce Hayes-Giles, school board vice president, told The News neither woman is suspected of doing anything wrong, but that employees had to be questioned without supervisors present.

The district is investigating whether millions of dollars have been transferred to vendors and contractors through its Office of Risk Management without proper bids or contracts, The News reported.

The Michigan Office of State Aid and School Finance requires districts to seek bids on any purchase more than $19,211, according to The News.

The Detroit News, "2 DPS execs suspended as payments tracked," March 6, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Six Habits of Fiscally Responsible Public School Districts," Dec. 3, 2002

Michigan Education Digest, "Detroit Public Schools spent $1 million on artwork," Feb. 27, 2007

MIDLAND, Mich. — The expanded spring issue of Michigan Education Report is available now, and can be accessed on the Web at

Michigan Education Report is offering readers a chance to win an iPod when they comment on articles in its spring 2007 issue.

Comments can be made via e-mail about stories on the U.S. House Fellows program (, school district health benefits savings (, whether private employees in public schools provide the same quality of service as public employees in public schools ( and, a community college cooperating with home-school students ( and the role of profit in public schools (

Please visit for more information.

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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