Contents of this issue:
  • Monroe schools begins firing process for math teacher
  • Jackson-area schools save with private energy conservation plan
  • Schools end mandatory volunteer requirements
  • Montessori school seeks charter status
  • Project seeks to enlarge ranks of scientists, engineers

MONROE, Mich. — The Monroe Board of Education voted 6-0 to begin the tenure hearing process for a teacher who is accused of having sexual contact with a student, according to the Monroe News.

Kelly Anne Bussell has been on paid leave since late May and is also under investigation by the Monroe County Sheriff's Office. An internal investigation by the district accuses Bussell of "engaging in sexual acts with male students," according to a district document, the News reported.

"She absolutely denies all charges," local teachers union President Nikki Klonaris told the News. "What if no formal charges are filed? It seems Kelly has not been allowed due process. It's unfair to Kelly. It's frustrating."

State law requires a teacher to respond to tenure charges within 20 days. If Bussell appeals the charge, the Michigan Education Association school employees union will give her an attorney and will proceed with a hearing. The process could take anywhere from nine months to a year. Bussell is being paid her full salary of more than $44,000 while on administrative leave, according to the News.

Monroe News, "Monroe moves to fire embattled teacher," July 10, 2008 361656193

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

JACKSON, Mich. — Jackson-area school districts have seen significant savings from contracting with private companies to manage energy consumption, according to The Jackson Citizen Patriot.

Northwest school district implemented a Trane energy program and has saved more than $840,000 over four years. That is about $300,000 more than Trane estimated. The district has used the savings to invest in more energy efficient furnaces and lighting, according to The Citizen Patriot.

Both Western and Jackson Public Schools have saved with programs through Texas-based Energy Education Inc. Western is at the end of its second year under the program and estimates about $100,000 in savings. The Jackson Public Schools has been working with the company since 2000 and has saved more than $2 million in utility costs.

"(Energy consumption) is an area we have some control over," Steve Bartels, energy manager for the districts, told The Citizen Patriot. "That's why it's so important that each school be able to do something to reduce consumption. To me, it's a no-brainer."

The Jackson Citizen Patriot, "Energy plans save schools big cash," July 9, 2008

Michigan Education Digest, "Districts could save money with private energy consultant," Dec. 12, 2006

HOLLAND, Mich. — Citing increased demands on students, West Ottawa Public Schools is eliminating mandatory volunteer work, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

The change will affect students in the class of 2010 and beyond. Four years ago, the state attempted to require 40 hours of community service for students to receive Michigan Merit award money. The attorney general's office overruled the requirement, The Press reported.

Other schools have decided to keep a service requirement in place. Northview and Grandville public schools require service during high school, as do Black River charter public school and many parochial schools. Black River requires 60 hours of community service for high school students, while Grandville requires 20 hours, according to The Press.

The Grand Rapids Press, "Schools feel pressure to end mandatory service," July 14, 2008

Michigan Education Report, "Should students be required to complete 40 hours of community service to qualify for the Michigan Merit Award? No" Aug. 16, 2005

Michigan Education Report, "Should students be required to complete 40 hours of community service to qualify for the Michigan Merit Award? Yes" Aug. 16, 2005

NORTON SHORES, Mich. — A Norton Shores Montessori school has filed an application to become a charter public school authorized by Central Michigan University, according to The Muskegon Chronicle.

Enrollment has been declining at Michigan Dunes Montessori due to the weakening economy. The school once served students in grades pre-K through sixth, but now only serves students up until first grade.

"Our primary grades haven't been functioning because people just can't afford it, so they choose to go to public schools," School Director Claire Chiasson told the Chronicle. "The charter would really fill up our school."

CMU officials say that it was the only application received from the west Michigan area and that they should choose a school to authorize by Aug. 15.

Muskegon Chronicle, "Montessori files to become charter school," July 14, 2008 66220.xml&coll=8

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Full Educational Choice (Vouchers, Private Scholarships, Tax Credits and Universal Tuition Tax Credits)," in "The Case for Choice in Schooling," Jan. 29, 2001

LAKE FENTON, Mich. — Students at Lake Fenton Middle School are building traffic signals, designing wooden toys and testing aviation models as part of a new effort to interest middle-schoolers in engineering and related fields.

Project Lead the Way is a national, nonprofit educational program working to increase the number and diversity of students in science, math, engineering and technology, so-called STEM fields. With corporate partners, the organization has developed a curriculum package for middle and high school classrooms with courses ranging from robotics to civil engineering to architecture.

About 80 Michigan schools will have all or part of the Lead the Way curriculum in place by this fall, and about 75 teachers are spending part of this summer learning how to implement the program in their classrooms.

"This was designed because kids weren't taking classes to become engineers," said Bill Rae, a Lake Fenton Middle School teacher and master teacher for the project.

Michigan Education Report, "It's hard, but it's fun: Project seeks to enlarge ranks of scientists, engineers," July 15, 2008

Michigan Education Digest, "Huron County teachers win DTE Energy grants," March 11, 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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