Contents of this issue:

  • ‘Best practice’ money headed to schools
  • 20 schools ‘beating the odds’
  • No summer unemployment benefits for third-party hires
  • School election bill would mean extra year for some trustees
  • ‘Recovery’ school district may go statewide in first year

‘Best Practice’ Money Headed to Schools

DETROIT — A total of 177 school districts statewide are receiving payments of $100 per student for successfully enacting “best practices” as outlined in the state’s 2012 budget, The Detroit News reported.

To qualify for the funding, districts had to implement four of these five practices, The News reported: Charge employees at least 10 percent of health care premiums; become the policyholder of medical benefit plans; seek competitive bids for noninstructional services; publish a “dashboard” of district effectiveness; or save money by consolidating services with other entities.

The state anticipates distributing $154 million through the incentive program, The News reported.

School officials were quick to tell The News that they do not consider the money “additional funding,” given the reduction in per-pupil funding that the Legislature adopted this year.

“This is not extra money because we've already taken an 8.1 percent pay cut and lost close to $20 million over the past two years,” said Dearborn Public Schools spokesman David Mustonen.

However, newly hired teacher Terra Fields told The News that she is grateful that the incentive funding made it possible for Dearborn to give her a job as a kindergarten teacher.

Districts have until June to apply for the funds, The News reported.


The Detroit News, “Michigan schools reap ‘best practices’ windfall,” Nov. 7, 2011


Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “School Funding Testimony” (video), Feb. 16, 2011

20 Schools ‘Beating the Odds’

DETROIT — Twenty schools were named as “beating the odds” by the Michigan Department of Education recently, a term used to point out schools whose students are performing better than predicted, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The schools were chosen based on two studies, the Free Press reported. One study compared actual performance to predicted performance among schools with such risk factors as high poverty levels and large numbers of minority students, while the second study identified schools that outperformed a comparison group with similar demographics.

Combined, the studies identified 123 schools, but only 20 schools showed up on both lists, the Free Press reported.

Four schools made both the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 lists: the MLK Academy in Detroit, Winn Elementary in Shepherd Public Schools, North Godwin Elementary in Godwin Heights Public Schools and Glenwood Elementary in Kentwood Public Schools, the Free Press reported.


Detroit Free Press, “4 metro Detroit schools ID'd as beating the odds by state,” Nov. 8, 2011

Michigan Department of Education, “Michigan Schools ‘Beating the Odds


Michigan Education Report, “Dove Academy: The end goal is a college degree,” March 3, 2010 

No Summer Unemployment Benefits for Third-Party Hires

LANSING, Mich. — School or university employees hired through a third-party contractor are not eligible to receive unemployment benefits during the summer recess under the terms of a new state law, according to a report posted at

It already is illegal for individuals hired directly by a school district to collect unemployment during summer or winter breaks, and the new measure extends that ban to individuals hired through contractors, reported.

The ban refers only to employees who have a “reasonable belief” that they will be employed during the next school term, according to

State Rep. Ken Yonker, R-Caledonia, proposed the measure in response to the growing number of third-party contractors working with schools, reported. A House Fiscal Agency analysis said the law would reduce benefit payouts from the unemployment trust fund, but not by a significant amount, the report said.

SOURCE:, “Snyder signs law making it illegal for education employees to collect unemployment during the summer,” Nov. 13, 2011


Michigan Votes, “2011 House Bill 4452: Revise school unemployment benefits detail

School Election Bill Would Mean Extra Year for Some Trustees

CANTON, Mich. — Supporters say that requiring all school board elections to take place in November of even years would save money and increase turnout,  the Canton Observer reported, but it also will keep some current board members around for an extra year.

Legislation that would shift the elections to even-year Novembers is awaiting Gov. Rick Snyder’s signature, according to the Observer.

If approved, then the next election in Plymouth-Canton Community Schools would shift from 2013 to 2014, the Observer reported. That means that trustees like Judy Mardigian, who did not intend to run again after her term expires in 2013, now will remain on the board until 2014.

“I’m not thrilled,” Mardigian told the Observer. Mardigian has served on the board since 1998 and said, “I would like to go out the way I was supposed to. ... I don’t like having that decision taken out of my hands.”

Currently, school boards can choose from any of five election dates in the two-year election cycle, the Observer reported. Two local government clerks told the Observer that they support the shift because school districts will pay less to share the cost of a general election than to host their own elections.


Canton Observer, “School election bills headed to governor,” Nov. 13, 2011


Michigan Votes, “House Bill 4005: Require school board elections to be in November

‘Recovery’ School District May Go Statewide in First Year

YPSILANTI, Mich. — Low-performing schools across Michigan may find themselves part of the new statewide “recovery” district sooner than they expected, according to The Detroit News.

Rather than start with Detroit Public Schools only, the organization charged with turning around Michigan’s failing schools says it will encompass some rural and suburban districts statewide when it begins operations next fall, according to The Detroit News.

Chancellor John Covington, head of the new Education Achievement Authority, did not specify which schools would be included in the new district, but said it would not be solely the 38 DPS schools in the original plan, The News reported.

Currently, there are 98 “persistently low-achieving” schools in Michigan that enroll a combined 66,400 students, The News reported.

In related news, Covington has appointed three former colleagues from the Kansas City Public Schools to key staff positions in the new organization, The News reported, as well as the former superintendent of Seattle Public Schools, the former president of the Detroit Board of Education and a former United Auto Workers executive secretary.


The Detroit News, “District for failing schools should go statewide next year, chancellor says,” Nov. 10, 2011


Michigan Education Digest, “Private donors pay start-up costs of statewide district,” Oct. 29, 2011

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 Lorie Shane at

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