Contents of this issue:
Senate passes graduation standards
Redford Union will cut teachers
Detroit schools still seeking security volunteers
Districts consider busing contracts
Bay City to close schools, cut staff
Mona Shores High eliminates public school choice enrollment
SENATE PASSES GRADUATION STANDARDS
LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate last week passed a bill requiring high school students to earn 16 specific credits to graduate, according to Booth Newspapers.
Senate Bill 1124, which passed unanimously, would take effect for the graduating class of 2011, Booth reported. It contains the same requirements as House Bill 5606, four years each of math and English, three years each of social studies and science, one year each of the arts and physical fitness, but also adds two years of foreign language. That requirement, starting for the class of 2013, can be taken any time between kindergarten and 12th grade. Both bills require students take an online course of some type.
The two chambers must work out a compromise before sending the bill to Gov. Jennifer Granholm to sign, Booth reported. The two bills also differ on class alternatives, especially in higher-level math and science courses, as well as when the new requirements begin.
Sen. Wayne Kuipers, R-Holland, and Rep. Brian Palmer, R-Romeo, chairmen of the Senate and House Education Committees, respectively, told a group of public school board members and superintendents they would prefer to avoid a conference committee, according to the Michigan Information & Research Service. The legislators told the officials and administrators they believe the difference between the two chambers can ironed out before spring break.
The people attending the Lansing conference overwhelmingly said public schools should get more money to implement the changes required by the legislation, MIRS reported.
"They don't need more money to do this," Kuipers told MIRS.
MichiganVotes.org, "2006 House Bill 5606 (Mandate high school graduation requirements)"
MichiganVotes.org, "2006 Senate Bill 1124 (Mandate high school graduation requirements)"
Booth Newspapers, "Graduation standards nearly complete," March 17, 2006
MIRS, "We Don't Want Conference," March 17, 2006 (subscription required)
Michigan Education Report, "Will a state-mandated high school curriculum of 18 credits ensure better-prepared students in the 21st century? Yes," March 7, 2006
Michigan Education Report, "Will a state-mandated high school curriculum of 18 credits ensure better-prepared students in the 21st century? No," March 7, 2006
REDFORD UNION WILL CUT TEACHERS
REDFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Redford Union schools will close three buildings and eliminate 40 jobs — including teachers — in an attempt to reduce a $3.7 million deficit, according to The Detroit News.
Some 41 layoffs will reduce next year's costs by $1.6 million, although more layoffs will come in future years, Superintendent Donna Rhodes told The News.
"For too many years, we've waited for things to happen and then responded," Rhodes said. The district of 4,400 students is being proactive regarding its financial condition, she told The News.
The three buildings slated to close are non-instructional buildings. Shuttering them will reduce utility costs by $67,000 a year, The News reported. The district hopes to balance its budget by the 2008-2009 school year.
The Detroit News, "Redford to cut teachers, buildings," March 14, 2006
The Detroit News, "School debt mindset," March 15, 2006
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Mackinac Center Guarantees $350,000 to Save Public School Teachers' Jobs," March 6, 2001
Michigan Education Report, "Redford could keep teachers," April 25, 2001
DETROIT SCHOOLS STILL SEEKING SECURITY VOLUNTEERS
DETROIT — An effort to recruit 2,000 security volunteers for Detroit Public Schools has fallen short thus far, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Fewer than 100 people have signed up to help assist the DPS security force, which includes 40 police officers and 300 security officers. Another 50 police officers laid off by the City of Detroit also have been hired by the district, the Free Press reported.
The Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit last month announced plans to recruit 2,000 volunteers after a string of crimes on or near DPS property, including stabbings, shootings and armed robberies, the Free Press reported.
Detroit Free Press, "Volunteer security patrols sparse for Detroit Public Schools," March 14, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Detroit seeks school security volunteers," Feb. 21, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "DPS still seeking solutions to school violence," Jan. 24, 2006
DISTRICTS CONSIDER BUSING CONTRACTS
YPSILANTI, Mich. — Three Washtenaw County school districts are considering combining and privatizing transportation as a way to help eliminate budget deficits, according to The Ann Arbor News.
The Ypsilanti, Willow Run and Lincoln districts are jointly pursuing a plan to consolidate busing and seek bids from private firms.
"We can't adopt a deficit budget," Ypsilanti Superintendent James Hawkins said during a meeting with bus drivers and mechanics, according to The News. "The state won't allow it."
All three districts are facing deficits of at least $3 million, The News reported. Lincoln Superintendent Fred Williams said his district spends $60,000 a year per bus for 65 buses, and has been told a private company can do it for $40,000 per bus.
"I think it's fair to say we're all very interested, but at the same time we'd like some real numbers," Williams told The News.
The plan has given rise to concerns about district employees losing jobs, but at least one district official said the best drivers need not worry.
"If they take over the three districts, they need to hire drivers," John Fulton, executive director of human resources for Ypsilanti schools, told The News. "So they're going to be looking at the three districts to hire the best drivers. They really don't care if you have 30 years or one year. If you have six months with the district and you're a good driver, you're going to be hired."
The Ann Arbor News, "Schools consider private busing," March 10, 2006
Mackinac Privatization Report, "Survey: School Outsourcing Grows," Oct. 27, 2005
Michigan Education Digest, "Muskegon ISD looking to privatize busing," March 7, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "GRPS private busing gets positive reviews," Sept. 6, 2005
BAY CITY TO CLOSE SCHOOLS, CUT STAFF
BAY CITY, Mich. — Bay City Public Schools will close two schools and cut $1 million from its transportation budget in an effort to erase a $7.4 million budget deficit, according to The Bay City Times.
Closing Jefferson Elementary and Eastside Middle schools will reduce costs by $1.4 million, The Times reported, but that hinges on the sale of two district buildings for $600,000, The Times reported. Transportation cuts could mean students who live within a mile of school, or public schools of choice students, will no longer receive busing service.
Students and parents alike spoke out against the decision.
"By closing Eastside, you are forcing kids to go to bigger schools," Myra Lowery, 12, said, according to The Times. "Most kids don't want to go to a bigger school."
Tim Elswick's three children attend the two schools slated to close. Elswick said he voted yes on a bond proposal last November, but will vote no on the next one, The Times reported.
The 29 employees at the two schools, including 20 teachers, will have to bid on other jobs using seniority, The Times said. Others could be laid off.
The Bay City Times, "Class dismissed," March 14, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Bay City could save $4 million with insurance change," Feb. 21, 2006
Michigan Education Report, "School districts wrestle high health care costs," March 7, 2006
MONA SHORES HIGH ELIMINATES PUBLIC SCHOOL CHOICE ENROLLMENT
NORTON SHORES, Mich. — For the first time in 10 years, Mona Shores High School will be closed to additional public schools of choice students next year, according to The Muskegon Chronicle.
Of the 4,200 students in the Mona Shores district, about 10 percent, or 420, are public schools of choice students, The Chronicle reported. State law allows schools to enroll students from neighboring districts within the same intermediate school district or from adjacent ISDs. The per-pupil foundation grant accompanies the student to the new school.
Although the Mona Shores board of education approved 135 new schools of choice slots for the 2006-2007 school year, none were at the high school, The Chronicle reported. More than 270 seniors are expected to graduate this spring, while the class of 2007 is projected at 345. Slots at the high school were capped because of overcrowding concerns, The Chronicle reported.
Mona Shores has enrolled almost 830 nonresident students since schools of choice was approved in 1997, according to The Chronicle, resulting in $17 million in additional revenue.
"We've tried to use choice as a management tool to maintain our enrollment numbers, and for the preservation of student programs and services," Superintendent Terry Babbitt told The Chronicle.
The Muskegon Chronicle, "High school closes to 'choice' students," March 14, 2006
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Case for Choice in Schooling: Restoring Parental Control of Education," Jan. 29, 2001
Michigan Education Report, "Give parents choices," Oct. 19, 1999
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Forging Consensus," April 30, 2004
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "With Clear Eyes, Sincere Hearts and Open Minds: A Second Look at Public Education in America," July 27, 2002
MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (http://www.educationreport.org), a quarterly newspaper with a circulation of nearly 150,000 published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (http://www.mackinac.org), a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.
Contact Managing Editor Ted O'Neil at
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