Contents of this issue:
  • Independent schools fundraise to keep tuition low
  • Detroit Public Schools restructures to save $1 million
  • GRPS wants to offer International Baccalaureate
  • Holton teachers union battles over insurance for four years
  • Huron teachers switch health insurance, get raises
  • Comment and win an iPod

GENESEE COUNTY, Mich. — Independent schools in Genesee County are seeing decreases in enrollment, but are fundraising in creative ways to keep tuition low for parents who want an alternative to state education, according to The Flint Journal. The 23 independent schools in Genesee County have a combined enrollment of 4,469 students, a drop of about 167 from last year. Tuition at Holy Rosary increased $100 from last year to $2,850. Ken Bachman, the school's principal and business manager, said the cost of educating each student is about $5,000. He also said that the school is always looking for ways to supplement that cost, The Journal reported.

"We are always fundraising," Bachman told The Journal. "If I had as much per-pupil payment (as) public schools receive, I could do a fine job for that amount of money."

Tuition costs for private schools within the county range from $2,500 to $8,950, The Journal reported. Private schools receive some financial aid from the federal government for free and reduced lunch programs, shared-time with public schools or for bus transportation. Many schools look to donations to keep running, and Catholic schools also receive some support from their parish. Additionally, private schools are almost continually looking to fundraise, according to The Journal.

Faith Baptist School has two large annual fundraisers. One is called, "Ed-U-Share," and raises about $25,000 to $30,000 each year for tuition assistance for widows and fathers who have lost their job. The school also receives about $50,000 to $60,000 a year through monthly pledges. At Holy Rosary, a group of staff and students run concessions during events at the Palace of Auburn Hills to raise money so teachers can send their students to the school at no charge, The Journal reported.

Teachers in private schools usually receive about two-thirds of what a typical public school teacher is paid, but many find it worth it, The Journal reported. Sue Griffin started teaching at Valley Christian directly out of college 25 years ago. She teaches civics, law, algebra and American history while also serving as the school's athletic director and volleyball coach.

"A lot of people see money as the most important thing in their lives," Griffin told The Journal. "I know money is necessary, but for me, it's helping teach kids in the best environment you can get."

The Flint Journal, "Costs squeezing private schools," Oct. 31, 2007 coll=5&thispage=1

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Private School Costs vs. Public School Costs," in "The Universal Tuition Tax Credit: A proposal to Advance Parental Choice in Education," Nov. 13, 1997

DETROIT — The Detroit Board of Education has approved a reorganization plan that will save the district $1 million, according to The Detroit News.

As a part of its state-mandated deficit elimination plan, DPS was supposed to reduce its central office staff. Superintendent Connie Calloway proposed collapsing positions and redefining job descriptions. The plan will result in salary savings of $939,391, The News reported.

The deputy superintendent for instruction and associate superintendent for curriculum and professional development became a single position, as did the general counsel and the deputy general counsel/acting director of risk management. In addition to eliminating positions, Calloway did create a spot for a director of accountability, according to The News.

The board approved the measure 7-3, with dissenters citing a lack of information about the restructuring. But Calloway thinks the plan will reduce a lot of the overlap found in these central administrative positions.

"What we really had to do is look at what moves this district forward and not protect positions or people," Calloway told The News. "What we saw was a lot of duplication."

The Detroit News, "Detroit schools board OKs reorganization touted to save $1M," Oct. 25, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Habit 1: Minimize Administrative Costs," in "The Six Habits of Fiscally Responsible Public School Districts," Dec. 3, 2002

Grand Rapids, Mich. — Grand Rapids Public Schools is working to bring the International Baccalaureate program to City High School, as well as develop a specialized curriculum around "economicology," according to The Grand Rapids Press.

Local philanthropist Peter Wedge donated $40,000 to fund the school's application for IB designation and to develop the economicology program, which is to be centered on the notion that a healthy economy and environment are compatible. Support for both programs came from 42 of the high school's 44 teachers, The Press reported.

There are currently 11 IB schools in Michigan. The program offers rigorous coursework and includes an international element. If the school is accepted by IB, faculty will start to be trained to teach the courses, according to The Press.

GRPS Superintendent Bernard Taylor said this is important to continue the strong reputation the high school holds, while also remaining competitive.

"Any school that is great wants to get even better," Taylor told The Press. "Because if you sit back and rest on your laurels, other people are going to catch up with you."

The Grand Rapids Press, "City High wants to go global," Oct. 25, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Dearborn: A Traditional Public School District Accepts the Charter School Challenge," in "The Impact of Limited School Choice on Public School Districts," June 24, 2000

MUSKEGON, Mich. — The Michigan Education Association has been at odds with the Holton board of education over insurance for more than four years, leaving teachers without a contract, according to The Muskegon Chronicle.

The board recently settled a deal with the district's support staff that included a 2 percent pay increase and a switch in insurance from the Michigan Education Special Services Association to Priority Health. This is expected to save the district $50,000 each year. Support staff will also receive a $250 bonus for agreeing, The Chronicle reported. MESSA is a third-party administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association school employees union.

The board is hoping its 70 teachers will follow the lead of the support staff and switch insurance plans. The lengthy negotiations have sparked the interest of the Education Action Group, which looks to increase public awareness of the health insurance issue and reach out to public school teachers. EAG has sent two 1,000-person mailings to "likely voters" in the district, according to The Chronicle. The first outlined the insurance options offered to teachers during bargaining. Insurance through MESSA Super Care currently costs the district $1,320 per employee each month. Insurance through Priority Health would cost $1,022 per month, resulting in savings of $250,000 for the district, The Chronicle reported. Other options include less expensive MESSA plans and SET SEG.

The second flier sent by EAG claimed that the Michigan Education Association Uniserv Director assigned to Holton teachers received a 7.7 salary increase, while teachers went without a contract. Kyle Olson, EAG's vice president for strategy, hopes this will inspire teachers to question the effectiveness of their union bargaining unit.

Kyle Olson is the brother of Ryan Olson, director of education policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. The Mackinac Center distributes Michigan Education Digest.

"I just want the teachers to think 'What are we getting for our dues?'" Kyle Olson told The Chronicle. "Here they've gone half a decade without a contract, without a raise."

Uniserv Director Kathleen Maka told The Chronicle her raise was 2.5 percent, and the additional money was paid to her for unused vacation time.

The Muskegon Chronicle, "Support personnel have new contract; teachers still don't," Oct. 19, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Selective Moral Outrage," Sept. 24, 2007

HURON, MI — The Huron Schools board of education voted unanimously to grant teachers a 2 percent pay increase for two years, while also making the switch to a less expensive health insurance plan, according to the Monroe News.

The contract will be retroactive from Sept. 1 and will run through Aug. 31, 2009. The board and teachers union agreed to switch health coverage to a less expensive Choices II plan through the Michigan Education Special Services Association, the News reported. MESSA is a third-party administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association school employees union.

As a result of the pay increase, a starting salary for a teacher with a bachelor's degree will be $37,687. An employee with those qualifications would be able to earn $67,085 after 25 years of employment, according to the News.

Monroe News, "Huron School board okays pacts with teachers, superintendent," Oct. 26, 2007

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

MIDLAND, Mich. — Go to and post a comment for a chance to win one of three iPods.

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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