Contents of this issue:
    • DPS cuts 1,700 jobs
    • West Ottawa Schools proceeds with tenure hearing
    • Resident concerned about Mesick contract ratification procedure
    • Northville unions agree to $1.2 million in concessions
    • Fruitport schools financially stable due to schools of choice

    DPS CUTS 1,700 JOBS
    DETROIT — The Detroit Public Schools avoided a shutdown by approving a budget that will eliminate 1,700 jobs, according to the Detroit Free Press.

    The budget proposal passed 9-2 and will include eliminating about 800 teaching positions and 900 other jobs. DPS will also eliminate 142 vacant administrative positions. Additionally, the district plans to cut $81 million in non-salary spending and negotiate $70 million in union concessions. However, no details on how those reductions will occur have been provided, the Free Press reported.

    The budget proposal leaves the district with a deficit of $112.8 million for this fiscal year and a deficit of $104.7 million for 2008-2009. DPS hopes to have a surplus of $2.6 million by 2009-2010, according to the Free Press.

    Detroit Free Press, "Detroit school officials OK budget, avoid shutdown," June 30, 2008 80630102/1003/NEWS

    Michigan Education Report, "Detroit not the only school district seeing red," June 30, 2008

    HOLLAND, Mich. — West Ottawa Public Schools is proceeding with its first tenure hearing in hopes of firing a teacher, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

    The district claims Karl Nadolsky, 58, gave students answers to a biology test to mask his poor performance. Nadolsky denies this and argues his actions were based on legitimate pedagogical theory. The board of education voted to remove him in January, and he has appealed the case to a state tenure judge, The Press reported.

    "We don't want him back in the classroom," school board President Randy Schippers, a Holland lawyer, told The Press.

    "Now, we have to follow the process the state devised to try to make that happen."

    Tenure hearings are rare because many districts decide to settle for a buyout, which usually costs less. There are about 50 tenure cases each year and they take an average of more than 10 months to resolve. The hearings are similar to an actual trial, with lawyers and witnesses presenting evidence. In this case, the district was not willing to settle on a buyout. Nadolsky could have retired with full benefits, according to The Press.

    Nadolsky was paid his full salary, $69,712, plus $16,198 worth of benefits, while awaiting a hearing, The Press reported. The district has also spent $17,915 in legal fees and $23,577 for a long-term substitute.

    The Grand Rapids Press, "West Ottawa Public Schools holds its first teacher tenure hearing," June 24, 2008

    Michigan Education Report, "Tenure law is impediment to reform," May 12, 2000

    MESICK, Mich. — A Mesick man was reportedly "baffled" by the lack of transparency during teacher contract ratification procedures, according to the Cadillac News. Greg Bailey asked for a copy of the contract being voted on at the June 9 school board meeting and was told there were no copies or any information available to the public, the News reported. "I objected to approving the teachers' contract without the public being able to comment (knowledgeably) on it," Bailey told the News.

    After the board meeting, Bailey requested a copy via the Freedom of Information Act, but was denied because the contract wasn't finalized at the time.

    "I'm very, very upset with the process," Bailey told the News.

    "This is a timely matter for completing these things and providing the information to the public."

    The major changes to the contract include a switch in health insurance coverage from the Michigan Education Special Services Association, a third-party administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association school employees union, to Blue Cross Blue Shield. Teachers will receive a $1,000 signing bonus in the fall for the switch, while also seeing pay increases of 1.75 percent, 2.3 percent and 2 percent over the next four years. The 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years will both include raises of 2 percent, according to the News.

    Cadillac News, "Man upset by Mesick school board ratifying teachers' contracts," June 25, 2008

    Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Michigan School Databases"

    NORTHVILLE, Mich. — Northville school support staff prevented the contracting of custodial, transportation and food services by accepting $1.2 million in concessions, according to the Northville Record.

    The union agreed to a three-year contract which will include a 2 percent pay reduction, a freeze on salary steps, annual payments of $390 for health care and a revised pay schedule for new employees. The new wage schedule is a 22 percent decrease from the current system, the Record reported.

    "The board is deeply grateful to the custodial, transportation and food service staff for their support in reaching this agreement," Board President Joan Wadsworth told the Record. "We recognize the sacrifice involved. We are delighted to be able to keep our terrific staff and know that the school community is delighted as well."

    Northville Record, "Privatization Dropped," June 26, 2008 806260596/1029

    Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Privatization Rolls on Despite Rhetorical Opposition," June 9, 2008

    FRUITPORT, Mich. — The Fruitport Community Schools have bucked the trend of district financial troubles, due largely to the number of schools of choice students it receives each year, according to The Muskegon Chronicle.

    The school board approved a final budget for the 2007-2008 school year with revenues of $29.3 million and expenditures of $29.8 million. Even with the slight deficit, the district maintains a fund balance of $4.7 million. The district was in the position to purchase new textbooks and offer summer school to grades 1-12 for the first time, The Chronicle reported.

    For the 2008-2009 school year, the district is estimating revenue of $29.7 million and expenditures of $30 million. This budget does not include estimates for increases in schools of choice students. The district has received about 50 new students over the past two years.

    "We've had more (schools of) choice numbers than ever, and each year we get more," Superintendent Nicholas Ceglarek told The Chronicle. "But we think it's important to budget conservatively in this economy."

    The Muskegon Chronicle, "Choice students help Fruitport schools finances," June 27, 2008 choice_students_help_fruitport.html

    Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Limited Educational Choice," in "The Case for Choice in Schooling," June 9, 2008

    MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (, an online 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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