Contents of this issue:


  • School leaders float ideas on saving money
  • Applying economics to ed research
  • DPS, Doug Ross talk partnership
  • Whiteford expands food privatization
  • MEA wants ISD to turn over fund equity

SCHOOL LEADERS FLOAT IDEAS ON SAVING MONEY


LANSING, Mich. - Regional labor contracts, a statewide teacher pay scale and consolidated administration are among the proposals that a group of Michigan school leaders want the state to consider, according to an article in the Lansing State Journal.

Fourteen school superintendents and finance chiefs from districts of varying sizes put together the proposals and now are circulating them as potential ways to address school funding problems, the Journal reported.

"The idea was to sit down and say, 'What are the problems that we have? What are some solutions?'" J. Thomas Goodwin, chief financial officer for Grand Ledge Public Schools, told the Journal.

Michigan's per-pupil funding system, combined with a dwindling state population, is putting pressure on school budgets, the article said.

Among their ideas are statewide or regional labor contracts; statewide payroll systems; a statewide health insurance pool and competitive bidding for insurance; and changes in the process of allocating certain state funds to align with the districts' varying costs, the Journal reported.

SOURCE:
Lansing State Journal, "Educators searching for answers to money woes," June 22, 2009

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


APPLYING ECONOMICS TO ED RESEARCH


EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State University has received a $5 million grant to train education researchers in economics, according to a press release from the university and Education Week magazine.

The doctoral program will focus on methods of studying longitudinal data to show whether and how school funding, class size, teachers' educational training and other factors relate to student performance, the release said.

"There is a need to improve these methods so the educational community can get better estimates of the associations between policy variables and student outcomes," Robert Floden, a professor in the College of Education, said in the release. The program will bring together faculty with expertise in K-12 education, economics, labor, quantitative measurement and teacher education.

SOURCES:
Michigan State University, "MSU trains scholars to tackle educational issues - with economics," June 16, 2009

Education Week, "Michigan State to train ed researchers in economics," June 19, 2009

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Special Effects: Flawed Report on Film Incentives Provides Distorted Lens," June 12, 2009


DPS, DOUG ROSS TALK PARTNERSHIP


DETROIT - The emergency manager of Detroit Public Schools and the head of some of the city's most successful charter schools are talking about a joint project at DPS' Mumford High School, The Detroit News reported.

The News said that Robert Bobb, DPS emergency financial manager, and Doug Ross, founder of the University Prep Schools, raised the possibility at "Education 911," a panel presentation hosted by the Michigan Chronicle.

Ross is superintendent of University Prep High School, a charter public school that promises to graduate 90 percent of its students and send 90 percent to college, according to the report. He also is a Mumford High graduate.

"The good news is that we're both at the table," Bobb said, according to The News. "We're committed."

Keith Johnson, president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers and also a panelist, declined comment because he was unaware of the talks, The News said. He did say that the teachers in any joint venture would have to be represented by the union, The News reported.

SOURCE:
The Detroit News, "DPS looks at partnership with charter school founder," June 18, 2009

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Digest, "Another U Prep charter to open," May 22, 2009


WHITEFORD EXPANDS FOOD PRIVATIZATION


OTTAWA LAKE, Mich. - Four cafeteria workers employed by Whiteford Agricultural Schools in Monroe County will be transferred to the company that manages the district's food services, but a union official predicted a lawsuit over the move, according to The Toledo Blade.

The district budget calls for $6.5 million in spending in 2009- 2010, but only $5.9 million in revenue, The Blade reported. The district will close the gap by laying off staff, privatizing the food service workers and spending down fund equity.

"All Michigan schools are in the same boat," said Herb Gabehart, interim superintendent of the 740-student district, according to The Blade.

Mike Baumann, a Michigan Education Association representative, said the decision breaks a promise made to food service employees in 2006 which guaranteed them employment until they quit or retired, The Blade reported.

The transfer of the cafeteria workers to Sodexo will affect their retirement plan, according to The Blade.

SOURCE:
The Toledo Blade, "Whiteford Agricultural district trims staff, cuts hours," June 17, 2009

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "Privatization numbers up again," Aug. 19, 2008


MEA WANTS ISD TO TURN OVER FUND EQUITY


WATERFORD, Mich. - School employee groups and Michigan Education Association leaders want Oakland Schools to turn over more of its fund equity to local districts, according to a report in The Oakland Press.

Union representatives said at a budget hearing recently that Oakland Schools should send more money to local schools for direct instruction, rather than save it for emergencies or improvement projects, The Press reported.

But Oakland trustees said they already cut the intermediate district's general operating fund reserve from 10 percent to 5 percent of the budget on behalf of local districts, according to the report. They also said that intermediate-level programs and services help local districts save money.

Robert Moore, deputy superintendent of finance, said Oakland Schools will receive about $240 million less in property taxes during the next five years, according to The Press.

MEA Secretary Treasurer Peggy McClellan told the board, "We are here for one simple reason, to urge you to use the resources you have so our students don't suffer cuts to programs and services they so desperately need," The Press reported.

SOURCE:
The Oakland Press, "Struggling school districts ask for cut of rainy day funds," June 16, 2009

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "Intermediate School Districts: Innovations that are Past Their Prime," July 9, 2007


MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (http://www.educationreport.org), an online newspaper published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (http://www.mackinac.org), a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Lorie Shane at
mailto:med@educationreport.org

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