Contents of this issue:
  • CMU closes Lansing charter school
  • Hazel Park community members look to recall board members
  • Mason-Lake ISD drops MESSA, gives raises
  • Howell teachers contribute more for MESSA premiums
  • Bridgeport-Spaulding district ends schools of choice
  • Win a gift certificate

LANSING, Mich. — Central Michigan University has decided not to renew its charter for the Sankofa Shule Academy, a charter public school located in Lansing, according to the Lansing State Journal.

The school has been operating for 12 years and has a specialized Afrocentric curriculum. Enrollment at Sankofa Shule dropped from 200 students to 80 students this past school year and its financial situation and management have faced public scrutiny.

The charter expires on June 30, the Journal reported. CMU officials have found no way to justify keeping it open.

"They are no longer financially viable," James Goenner, executive director of the Center for Charter Schools at CMU, told the Journal. "We want them to be successful, but we also have a role to ensure their accountability on behalf of the public."

Unlike conventional public schools, charter public schools face accountability standards that can lead to their closure based on enrollment drops or fiscal mismanagement.

A high teacher turnover rate as well as an investigation five years ago into money handling problems were all issues taken into consideration as the contract came up for renewal, the Journal reported.

Sankofa Shule is the 28th Michigan charter school to close in 14 years, the Journal reported. But the school's closing can be beneficial, according to Dan Quisenberry, president of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies, because CMU will now have a competitive application process and possibly open another charter school by fall 2008, according to the Journal.

Lansing State Journal, "Sankofa Shule likely to close," June 9, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "'You have to be a one-woman army': Long-time educator praises parental choice," May 25, 2006

Michigan Education Report, "Governor's letter on charter schools stirs controversy among authorities," Dec. 15, 2005

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Charter Schools Don't Need More Michigan Department of Education 'Oversight,' Aug. 12, 2003

HAZEL PARK, Mich. — Two members of the Hazel Park school board are being targeted for recall after voting to close two schools, add sixth grade to the existing junior high school and continue the Schools of Choice program, according to the Royal Oak Daily Tribune.

The two members being targeted are Melvin Rasmusson and Ricky D. Nagy. Supporters of the recall are in the process of having the recall ballot language approved. If it is approved by the Oakland County probate judge, supporters will have 180 days to gather more than 1,600 petition signatures to see the proposal on the ballot, the Daily Tribune reported.

Two other members who supported the closings, Harold R. Brenizer and Terry A. Troutt, were voted out of office during the May school board election. Laura LaForme also supported the closings, but is not targeted in the recall, according to city activist Ed Bullock, because she has only been a board member since November, the Daily Tribune reported.

Rasmusson said it was predictable and expected, according to the Daily Tribune.

"They certainly have a right to do it," Rasmusson told the Daily Tribune. "This is fairly typical in closings of schools. It's very predictable. But I really think I would like to see the good people unite and show the self-serving people on the fringe that's not the way we want to run the school district." School Board President Clinton Adkins supports Rasmusson and Nagy, even though their votes on the three issues differed.

"I disapprove of the recall," Adkins told the Daily Tribune. "They haven't done anything to be recalled for. They just voted the way they felt they should vote on an important issue."

Royal Oak Daily Tribune, "Recall petition targets school board members," June 10, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "Labor struggles continue for SCS Lakeview district," March 7, 2006

Michigan Privatization Report, "School Board Members Survive Recall Attempt," July 26, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "Board member may face recall for moving kids to new school," Jan. 4, 2006

AMBER TWP., Mich. — The Mason-Lake Intermediate School District and Mason-Lake Education Association agreed to a three-year contract which includes a switch in health plans and salary increases, according to the Ludington Daily News.

The 42-members of the MLEA will receive 2.5 percent pay increases for each of the three years and move away from health coverage administered by the Michigan Education Special Services Association, a third-party administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association school employees union. The ISD will switch to a health insurance plan provided by Blue Cross Blue Shield, the Daily News reported.

"We have a very good relationship with our education association group and we're pleased with the outcome," ISD Human Resources Director Cindy Gleason told the Daily News. "It's a good contract for both sides."

Ludington Daily News, "ISD, teachers agree to three-year contract," June 12, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "Jackson teachers vote to contribute more to health care," June 12, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "A Collective Bargaining Primer For Michigan School Board Members," Feb. 28, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "Growing number of districts seek solutions to costly health insurance," Dec. 15, 2005

HOWELL, Mich. — The Howell school board voted in favor of a contract that could add $1 million to the district's budget. The contract includes pay increases for teachers as well as union affiliated health insurance plans, according to the Livingston Daily Press & Argus.

Teachers will receive a retroactive pay increase of 0.5 percent for the 2006-2007 school year and a 2.25 percent raise for both the 2007-2008 and the 2008-2009 school years, the Daily Press & Argus reported.

Howell Education Association members will keep their health insurance administered by the Michigan Education Special Services Association, but will contribute $600 towards premiums for the 2007-2008 school year and $750 the following year. MESSA is a third-party administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association school employees union. Health coverage in the third year of the contract will depend on MESSA premium increases, according to the Daily Press & Argus. If premiums increase by six percent or less, teachers will continue to contribute $750. If premiums increase by 6.1 to 14.99 percent, the district will switch health plans and cover the entire cost. If premiums increase by 15 percent or more, the district will switch health plans and teachers will contribute $750 toward their own health insurance, the Daily Press & Argus reported.

The board approved the contract 6-1. The dissenting vote was cast by Trustee Wendy Day who said the board was placing too much hope in state funding increases, according to the Daily Press & Argus.

Livingston Daily Press & Argus, "Teachers' contract approved," June 12, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "Cedar Springs teachers voluntarily give up pay increase," June 12, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "Royal Oak teachers protest at board meeting, want to keep MESSA," May 1, 2007

BRIDGEPORT, Mich. — The Bridgeport-Spaulding school district voted 4-3 to end their participation in the Schools of Choice program and will close enrollment to those students not assigned to the district, The Saginaw News reported. Students who are currently enrolled in the district through Schools of Choice will not be affected, but no new students will be allowed to enroll for the 2007-2008 school year. Board member Michael A. Tate voted against participation in the program because it would allow Bridgeport to come together as a community, The News reported.

"We're better off as a smaller, leaner fighting machine," Tate said, according to The News.

Board member Marvin L. Morris supports participation in Schools of Choice because well-performing school districts are often appealing to outside students, The News reported.

"I like to think of us in a growth mode," Morris said. "If we're in that mode, we should be open to students."

The Saginaw News, "District ends schools of choice," June 12, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "Goodrich schools to expand Schools of Choice program," May 1, 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

MIDLAND, Mich. — Michigan Education Report introduces a new online forum dedicated to discussing Michigan education issues.

Available at, the site features timely news about Michigan schools, a variety of open forums and the chance to participate in an opinion survey on a current education issue. Those who register and comment on stories will be entered in a drawing for a $50 gift certificate.

The summer 2007 edition of Michigan Education Report readers will find articles about: - research concluding that consolidating school districts is not the best way to save money in education; - the first year at one of Michigan's newest private schools, Trinitas Classical School in Grand Rapids; - incentive pay programs for teachers in Michigan districts; - schools using radio, television and billboards to market themselves; - an update on the country's first statewide school voucher program in Utah. Michigan Education Report is available online at

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