Contents of this issue:
  • Detroit school board votes to close 34 schools
  • Plans for Macomb County Catholic school moving forward
  • Schools privatize substitutes, consider service consolidation
  • South Lyon adopts schools of choice program
  • Online Chinese courses to be offered to high school students
  • Win an iPod; Map: Does your district competitively contract?

DETROIT — The Detroit Public Schools board of education voted 6-5 to save the district $18.6 million a year by closing 34 of its schools, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The plan also calls for the establishment of 23 themed schools that will focus on areas of study such as college preparation and science and technology. The district also will create an all-girls and an all-boys high school. The school closings are a result of a state-mandated deficit elimination plan, which calls for the closure of 95 schools from 2005-2009, the Free Press reported.

District officials have reported that DPS currently has an enrollment of 119,000 students but has enough classroom space for 180,000, according to the Free Press.

The decision to close schools has been met with strong opposition and one member of the audience was arrested at a previous board meeting for throwing a grape at board Vice President Joyce Hayes-Giles, the Free Press reported.

Other parents have said they will leave DPS.

"They are closing a high academic school. I've made up my mind already. If they close my son's school, I will put my son in a charter school," parent Clarissa Meriwether told the Free Press.

Detroit Free Press, "34 Detroit schools to close," April 5, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "Detroit school board votes down school closure plan," March 27, 2007

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

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

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

MACOMB, Mich.- The plans for a Catholic high school in Macomb Township have been submitted and the Austin Catholic Academy Building Committee is making progress on its goal of opening only the second school of its kind in Macomb County, according to The Macomb Daily.

The committee has raised $11 million of its $30 million goal to fund the construction of the private school. School officials are expecting the building to hold between 800 and 1,000 students in grades 9-12 and offer a college preparatory curriculum, The Macomb Daily reported.

Macomb Township clerk and planning commission member Michael Koehs told The Macomb Daily that although public schools are not required to go through screening by a planning commission, private schools are.

"Public schools don't have to go through the process," he told The Macomb Daily. "Private schools are not afforded that luxury."

Austin Catholic Academy President Leonard Brillati hopes the school's presence will draw parents to a Catholic education, The Macomb Daily reported.

"The Catholic school system has prepared great minds to do great things for the church and for the nation," he told The Macomb Daily. "We hope to inspire people to make Catholic education a personal priority."

The Macomb Daily, "Catholic school site plan turned in," April 2, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "Detroit-area Catholic schools look to future," Nov. 21, 2006

Michigan Education Report, "Catholic schools and the common good," Aug. 16, 2005

Michigan Education Report, "Detroit Catholic high school "sees God in the challenges," Aug. 16, 2005

TRENTON, Mich. — Trenton Public Schools will save $30,000 this year after privatizing its substitute teachers with two of its neighboring districts, the Free Press Reported.

Trenton contracted with Professional Education Services Group, of Caledonia, which Superintendent John Savel said is a good move on the part of the district.

"We've had to cut well over a million from our budget each year," Savel told the Free Press. "This is one way we can save a substantial amount of money and not have to directly impact kids and programs."

Many other districts are picking up on the state's push for service consolidation, the Free Press reported. In Oakland County, 15 districts have consolidated their special education busing programs, resulting in savings of more than $1 million for each district, according to the Free Press.

Detroit Free Press, "Schools getting creative to save cash," April 3, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "West Michigan schools contract for substitute teachers," Nov. 21, 2006

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

Michigan Education Digest, "State Superintendent calls for service consolidation," March 6, 2007

SOUTH LYON, Mich. — The South Lyon Community Schools board of education voted 6-1 in favor of participating in the Schools of Choice program, according to the South Lyon Herald.

The decision to open the schools to students assigned to other districts was done to make money, the Herald reported.

"Given the financial challenges facing everyone it is important we try to do things we can prudently do to attract some students," Trustee George Ehlert told the Herald. "Let's face it, if we can get 20, 30 students, it could be the difference between cutting a program or keeping it."

The resolution passed by the board will open enrollment to students in Washtenaw, Livingston and Oakland counties. One parent, Rita Huhdanpaa of Whitmore Lake, already is planning on taking advantage of the opportunity, according to the Herald.

"It gives people who don't have a lot of choice within their existing school district a different choice," she told the Herald. "For us it is important."

South Lyon Herald, "Schools allow students from other districts," April 5, 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

EAST LANSING, Mich. — A Michigan State University language institute is partnering with Michigan Virtual University to offer an online Chinese language and culture class to every high school student in the state next year, according to The Kalamazoo Gazette.

The course will be offered to up to 750 students per school, and additional students can be added to the class for a fee of $275 per semester, The Gazette reported.

The class will run for one hour, four days a week and students will participate in teleconferences to interact with a small group of other students. Michigan is the first state to offer online Chinese instruction for high school students. Yong Zhao, an education professor and executive director of the Confucius Institute at MSU, hopes that this will draw people to the state, according to The Gazette.

"We want to attract businesses and tourists. This gives the gesture that we care about another place, that we're open to a different kind of people." He told The Gazette.

The Kalamazoo Gazette, "Online Chinese comes to high schools," March 26, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Asian Food for Thought," Dec. 10, 2004

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Undereducated Today, Outsourced Tomorrow?" Nov. 16, 2004

MIDLAND, Mich. — The spring issue of Michigan Education Report offers a map illustrating which districts have taken advantage of competitive contracting. It can be accessed here:

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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