Contents of this issue:
  • Mona Shores schools consider competitive contracting
  • Teachers accept incentives in new contracts
  • Report: Michigan plan fails to address minority students
  • Flint Promise?
  • Gwinn schools will contract custodial work, add jobs

NORTON SHORES, Mich. — Mona Shores Public Schools could seek competitive contracts for custodial and transportation services as a way to save money, according to The Muskegon Chronicle.

The district ended the 2005-2006 school year with a $1 million deficit, The Chronicle reported. One secretary and one custodian were cut, while five teaching positions were reduced by attrition.

"We're still looking at much more significant cuts next year for the 2007-08 year," Finance Director Michael Schluentz told The Chronicle.

The Chronicle reported that Mona Shores is considering competitive contracting because it saves money on "salaries, retirement expenses and union-sponsored health benefits." Locally, Reeths-Puffer, Fremont and North Muskegon all contract for janitorial work.

The Muskegon Chronicle, "Privatization could be in school district's future," Aug. 9, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Competitive contracting getting more popular," Aug. 8, 2006

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Schools continue to privatize," July 26, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Hartland schools to save $5 million with competitive contract," May 16, 2006

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Recent contract agreements in three western Michigan school districts show teachers are willing to agree to incentive-based raises and bonuses, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

Unions in the Byron Center, Grand Rapids and Holland districts recently approved contracts that could give teachers more money if certain requirements are met, particularly student enrollment levels.

"Word of mouth is the most powerful form of advertising," Ronald Koeholer, assistant superintendent for the Kent Intermediate School District, told The Press. "I think the goal of an incentive like this is to establish better relationships with their customers and link that to the financial health of the district."

State funding of schools is tied to individual students, and with limited schools of choice in Michigan, parents have some options to choose which school their child attends. Higher student enrollment means more money for a district.

Byron Center teachers can get bonuses if enrollment in the district goes up by 100 or more students, The Press reported. Other criteria the district must meet deal with budgets and school performance on the state's report card.

Holland teachers can get more money if enrollment grows by 35 students, while Grand Rapids teachers and staff could see raises if the district simply doesn't lose as many students as it anticipates, The Press reported.

Margaret Trimer-Hartley, spokeswoman for the Michigan Education Association union, said the agreements should not be called incentives, but says they have more to do with districts not being able to accurately predict enrollment, according to The Press.

Charles Bullard, president of the Holland teachers union, disagrees. Teachers in his district who receive the National Board of Teaching certification will get a $5,000 stipend.

"This came from our side of the table," he told The Press. "It rewards teachers who complete this very extensive process, but it also benefits the district, which could incorporate NBT certification into its marketing plan."

The Grand Rapids Press, "Incentives show shift in teacher contracts," Aug. 9, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Grand Rapids administrators could get incentive-based raises," July 19, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Grand Rapids teachers agree to incentive-based pay," June 27, 2006

LANSING, Mich. — A national education group says Michigan's plan to meet federal requirements for teacher proficiency fails to address the impact of unqualified teachers on minority students, according to Booth Newspapers.

The Education Trust looked at state plans filed with the U.S. Department of Education recently that detail how each state will meet the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind act that says core subjects must be taught by "highly qualified" teachers, Booth reported. Highly qualified, according to the law, applies to teachers who earned a college degree in that subject and have passed a certification test.

The Education Trust report said 40 states, including Michigan, did not take into account how minority students will be affected in the process, according to Booth.

"States really have not seized this opportunity to acknowledge inequality," Ross Weiner, policy director of The Education Trust, said in the report, according to Booth.

The federal government did not require states to address the issue of minority students impacted by unqualified or inexperienced teachers, Frank Ciloski of the Michigan Department of Education told Booth. Michigan looked at the Adequate Yearly Progress of schools to gather information for its report.

"AYP is a better measure, because AYP does not take into account the racial makeup of a building," Ciloski told Booth. "All it says is that these kids are learning what they're trying to learn."

As of last December, the state was reporting that 92 percent of all teachers were considered "highly qualified" as per NCLB requirements.

Booth Newspapers, "Education group: Michigan plan for qualified teachers falls short," Aug. 13, 2006

Michigan Education Report, "Does the No Child Left Behind Act help black students? Yes, test scores prove it," May 25, 2006

Michigan Education Report, "Does the No Child Left Behind Act help black students? No, it will lead to a resegregation of schools," May 25, 2006

FLINT, Mich. — Community leaders in Flint are talking about developing a program similar to the "Kalamazoo Promise" aimed at increasing the number of high school students who attend college, according to The Flint Journal.

"We are just in the preliminary stages of exploring," Kathi Horton, president of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, told The Journal. "Feasibility is the big question. The one thing we're anxious about is raising expectations prematurely."

Announced last fall, the Kalamazoo Promise is funded by anonymous donors and will provide up to 100 percent of tuition costs for Kalamazoo Public Schools students who meet certain residency requirements, The Journal reported.

"We're not looking to replicate Kalamazoo," Horton told The Journal. "We want to design something that makes sense for our community."

The group, comprised of representatives from local colleges and philanthropic agencies, has discussed establishing a needs-based program that could be applied on a regional basis, rather than limited to one school district, according to The Journal.

The Flint Journal, "Promise on Flint horizon?" Aug. 8, 2006

Michigan Education Report, "K-Promise: A whole new environment for Kalamazoo," March 7, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Charters, independent schools not worried about K-Promise," Nov. 29, 2005

GWINN, Mich. — A competitive contract for janitorial work in the Gwinn schools will save the district $716,000 over the next three years while adding three new jobs, according to The Marquette Mining Journal. The savings will help eliminate almost all of the district's projected $740,000 budget deficit.

Superintendent Steven Peffers told The Journal that most of the current 14 custodians will be able to "bump" into other jobs in the district. Bumping is a process whereby one union member fills another union job, often times based on seniority rather than performance.

The new contract calls for 17 custodians, which Peffers said would be filled locally if possible, according to The Journal.

"We will actually have our buildings staffed for more hours with custodial services," Peffers told The Journal.

The Marquette Mining Journal, "District to go private with custodial work," Aug. 7, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Competitive contracting getting more popular," Aug. 8, 2006

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Schools continue to privatize," July 26, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Hartland schools to save $5 million with competitive contract," May 16, 2006

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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