Contents of this issue:
  • High schools recruit charter students

  • Ravenna superintendent will retire rather than make cuts

  • Grosse Pointe schools could get foundation

  • Independent schools growing in Metro Detroit

  • Next Ann Arbor superintendent to start at $175,000

  • Censured teachers union president wants to keep office

  • Improper DPS tax collection unresolved

MUSKEGON, Mich. — Public and independent high schools are trying to recruit charter school students in eighth grade who are considering where to enroll as freshmen in the fall, according to The Muskegon Chronicle.

Timberland Charter Academy, a K-8 school, recently held its second annual open house, allowing area high schools the chance to show what they can offer to parents and prospective students, The Chronicle reported.

Timberland currently enrolls 52 eighth graders and 75 seventh graders. Orchard View and Muskegon public school districts, the Greater Muskegon Catholic Schools and Western Michigan Christian School were at the open house with booth displays, The Chronicle reported.

"I want my daughter to get information packets and choose where she wants to go," Patricia Lattimore told The Chronicle.

The Michigan Association of Public School Academies said 91 of the state's 220 charter schools offer a high school component, so students finishing eighth grade at charter schools without grades 9-12 must choose where to attend high school.

"There are a lot of choices in this area, and we want to help parents and students with that," Timberland Principal Juanita Preston told The Chronicle.

The Muskegon Chronicle, "High schools court upcoming grads of charter school," March 23, 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, "With Clear Eyes, Sincere Hearts and Open Minds: A Second Look at Public Education in America," July 27, 2002

RAVENNA, Mich. — The superintendent of Ravenna Public Schools will retire, rather than make nearly $800,000 in budget cuts, according to The Muskegon Chronicle.

Dave Paulsen, 58, told school board President Mike Pierson last month he is planning to retire, The Chronicle reported. The school board is to vote on his retirement April 17.

"Let's just say I don't have the will to do some of the things that have to be done because I don't think they're educationally sound," Paulsen told The Chronicle.

Paulsen's retirement coincides with the expiration of the current one-year contract between the district and teachers, which ends June 30, The Chronicle reported.

The school board has discussed a switch in health insurance plans, away from the Michigan Education Special Services Association to a Blue Cross Blue Shield plan featuring health savings accounts, The Chronicle reported. Such a move would save the district about $400,000, or half of the anticipated shortfall. MESSA is a third-party insurance administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association.

"A lot depends on the teachers' union," Pierson told The Chronicle.

Pierson said other cuts could include staff and administrative reductions and a "pay-to-play" program for sports, The Chronicle reported.

The Muskegon Chronicle, "School chief retires rather than make cuts," March 30, 2006

Michigan Education Report, "School districts wrestle with high health care costs," March 7, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "West Michigan schools try to save money by changing health insurance," Sept. 20, 2005

Michigan Education Digest, "New Mona Shores contract includes MESSA changes," March 7, 2006

GROSSE POINTE, Mich. — Grosse Pointe Public Schools might help establish a foundation to raise money for capital projects, according to The Detroit News.

The school board may approve a $750,000 loan to start the independent foundation, which they hope will raise $3 million in three years, The News reported.

"I don't think there's a question among any members of the board that we see an opportunity — that the foundation will provide flexibility and funding for our district," board President Jeffrey Broderick told The News.

Athletic boosters and PTO groups in the district already raise $300,000 to $500,000 a year, The News reported. Superintendent C. Suzanne Klein said the district may have to use part of its $10 million fund balance to eliminate a $3.5 million deficit next year.

The Detroit News, "Grosse Pointe board considers school foundation," March 7, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "School looks for donations," Jan. 3, 2006

DETROIT — Muslim and Jewish parents in the Detroit area are increasingly choosing to send their children to independent schools, rather than to the public schools to which they have been assigned, according to The Detroit News.

Crescent Academy International, which opened in 1991, has built a new $7 million school to handle increased enrollment, The News said. It now has 350 students. Enrollment at the American Islamic Academy has grown 40 percent, to 420 students, in the past year.

Two Orthodox Jewish schools in Southfield have experienced double-digit growth over the last five years, while Jewish Academy of Metro Detroit in West Bloomfield more than tripled its enrollment to 176 students in six years, The News reported.

Nationwide, Catholic schools constitute the largest group of independent schools, with more than 8,000 as of 2002, The News reported. The number of Jewish schools stood at 730 in 2002, while there were 188 Muslim schools the same year. The News obtained these data from the National Center for Education Statistics at the U.S. Department of Education.

The Detroit News, "Muslims, Jews pick private education," March 6, 2006

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "School Choice for Whom: Governments or Parents?" Nov. 2, 1998

Michigan Education Report, "Detroit Public Schools enrollment drops again," Nov. 29, 2005

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The next superintendent of the Ann Arbor Public Schools will make about $31,000 more than the incumbent, despite a district budget $6 million in debt, according to The Ann Arbor News.

The school board approved a base salary of $175,000 and plans to discuss additional compensation, including a car allowance, with whichever candidate ultimately is selected, The News reported. Current Superintendent George Fornero, who is leaving to take a job in Illinois, makes $144,200 in base salary and $155,700 overall.

"I think I can go to $175,000 because I need the best, and I need them now," board member Deb Mexicotte said, according to The News.

Trustee Susan Baskett was the only no vote in a 6-1 decision.

"My fear is that $175,000 is too high to start with," she said, according to The News. "A higher base salary does not necessarily get you a higher quality superintendent."

Ann Arbor must cut up to $8 million from its budget for next year, and will spend about $6 million from its savings to balance this year's budget, according to The News.

The Ann Arbor News, "Superintendent's pay set," March 23, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Ypsilanti schools could privatize top administrators," Jan. 17, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "More school construction problems in Ann Arbor," Mar. 14, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "New Ann Arbor high school $3 million over budget," Dec. 13, 2005

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The president of the Kalamazoo Education Association is seeking to retain the position, despite being censured and previously voted out, according to the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Millie Lambert was censured by the local union for "conduct unbecoming an officer of the association," a decision upheld by the state teachers union, the Gazette reported. The incident goes back to 2004, when Lambert received a check for nearly $5,000 in backdated mileage expenses from a union treasurer whose term had expired. The irregularity was discovered by new Treasurer Katie Pennington.

"It's a circus," Pennington told the Gazette. "Teachers are better people than this. It's hard to defend your career's professionalism when something like this occurs." Lambert was KEA president from 1986 to 1992, then had to step down due to term limits. She ran again and won in 2000, but lost in 2004, the Gazette reported. Lambert was appointed president when the winner was promoted to a building principal job and the vice president did not feel ready to serve as president.

Pennington told the Gazette she is not running for re-election as treasurer and feels "vilified" by union members.

"I'm doing my job, no more, no less," Pennington told the Gazette. "Two different boards saw what I saw."

Lambert returned the money in April 2005.

"The reality is, it was a mistake on my part not to file timely mileage statements," Lambert told the Gazette. "It was an error, and I paid for it."

The president of the KEA is paid a full teacher's salary by Kalamazoo Public Schools, half of which is reimbursed to the district by the union. Members pay $800 in dues annually, according to the Gazette.

Kalamazoo Gazette, "Censured teachers' union leader hopes for re-election," March 22, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Judicial board censures Kalamazoo union president for misusing funds," July 19, 2005

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Must Teachers Pay for Union Image Building?" July 5, 1994

DETROIT — A Wayne County Circuit Court judge recently ruled two companies should be allowed to proceed with part of a lawsuit against the Detroit Public Schools over the illegal collection of taxes, according to The Detroit News.

Judge Isidore B. Torres dismissed some claims by Briggs Tax Service and Kay Bee Kay Properties against DPS relating to the district's collection of $259 million in property taxes over three years, The News reported. Torres did say, however, the companies' claim that illegal collections in 2004 violated the state constitution should go forward, The News reported.

DPS continued to collect taxes on commercial property between 2002 and 2005 after the millage had expired, The News reported. Voters approved reinstating the 18-mill levy last November.

About 50 cases surrounding the issue are to be heard by the Michigan Tax Tribunal, according to The News.

The Detroit News, "Tribunal to hear school tax issue," March 23, 2006

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The $200 Million Question," Jan. 17, 2005

Michigan Education Report, "DPS' credit rating falls after $259 million tax error," Dec. 15, 2005

MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (, a quarterly newspaper with a circulation of nearly 150,000 published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (, a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Ted O'Neil at

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