Contents of this issue:
  • Georgia governor signs special needs voucher program into law
  • Detroit Public Schools establishes recruitment plan
  • Gladwin schools cuts staff, switches health insurance
  • Spring Lake union, school board finalize contract
  • Saline considers contracting, schools of choice
  • New issue of Michigan Education Report

ATLANTA, Ga. — Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue has signed a bill to create a scholarship program for students with disabilities. The Georgia Special Needs Scholarship will allow students with disabilities to attend a public or private school to meet their educational needs, according to the Alliance for School Choice.

Parents of students with special needs will be allowed to send their children to a public school outside of their assigned district or enroll them at a private school. The state will pay for the total cost of tuition at a private school or the amount used to pay for the child's education in the assigned district, whichever is less. Parents can pick a private school, as long as it meets the state's nondiscrimination and safety requirements, the Alliance for School Choice reported.

"I applaud Gov. Perdue and the Georgia General Assembly for recognizing that parents deserve the right to choose the best education for their children, particularly when those children have special needs," said Lori Drummer, director of state projects for the Alliance for School Choice. "It shouldn't matter where you live or how much money your parents make, every child deserves to go to a great school."

Alliance for School Choice, "Gov. Sonny Perdue signs Georgia Special Needs Scholarship into law," May 18, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "School vouchers in the news," May 24, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Thou Shalt Have No Other School System Before Me," June 16, 2005

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Sun Sets on 'Opportunity Scholarships' in the Sunshine State," Jan. 6, 2006

DETROIT — In response to the massive enrollment loss the Detroit Public Schools has seen over the past decade, school officials have announced the beginning of "Operation Gain and Retain," a plan to enroll new students as well as keep current students enrolled in the district, according to The Detroit News.

The plan will involve having community members walk door-to-door, having representatives from DPS present information at community gatherings, increasing the district's advertising budget, and using two buses as portable enrollment offices, The News reported.

School officials hope that this will ease the expected enrollment loss of 10,000 students for the upcoming school year. The parents of about 60,000 students assigned to DPS have chosen other education avenues for their students over the last decade, according to The News.

"The loss of one student is unacceptable," Interim Superintendent Lamont Satchel told The News. "To our critics I say, 'If you want it better, come work with us to make it better.'"

The Detroit News, "Detroit Public Schools launches plan to gain, retain students," May 23, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "Advertising for students: Schools use radio, TV, billboards to lure 'customers,'" May 24, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "Ypsilanti schools compete for Ann Arbor students," Jan. 16, 2007

GLADWIN, Mich. — Officials from the Gladwin Community Schools are expecting to cut staff and freshman sports, and switch administrators from the Michigan Education Special Services Association to Flexible Blue Insurance, according to the Gladwin County Record. MESSA is a third-party administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association school employees union.

Specifically, the district is looking to cut 8.4 full time equivalent positions, including teachers and social workers. Additionally, one custodial and one maintenance position will be eliminated, building secretaries will have their time reduced, and three paraprofessional positions will be cut, the County Record reported.

"The reality is that I have to balance the budget," Superintendent Rick Seebeck told the County Record. "I was told to stop deficit spending and increase the fund balance. I have to listen to the community."

The district expects to save about $800,000, the County Record reported.

Gladwin County Record, "Gladwin schools to cut staff, freshman sports," May 22, 2007§ion_id=1&story_id=47859

Michigan Education Digest, "Shelby schools pink slip 20 teachers," April 24, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "Detroit Public Schools to lay off 555 teachers," May 1, 2007

SPRING LAKE, Mich. — The Spring Lake Education Association union and the Spring Lake Board of Education agreed to a 3-year contract which includes pay increases in exchange for a less-expensive health plan, according to the Grand Haven Tribune.

Teachers will receive a 1.5 percent pay increase for the current school year and an additional 2 percent pay increase for the next two school years, the Tribune reported.

"I think it is a reasonable contract, given the financial situation in our district specifically and the state in general," Superintendent Larry Mason told the Tribune.

The district will also see savings of between $175,000 and $180,000 annually — or at least $72 per pupil — after switching to a less expensive health plan from the Michigan Education Special Services Association. MESSA is a third-party administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association school employees union.

Under the new plan, teachers will pay more of a share of the cost for their own prescription drugs, according to the Tribune.

"I'm certainly glad it's over," Mason told the Tribune. "We have some repair work to do as a district to get back to where we were, but we can do that and I know that we will do that."

Grand Haven Tribune, "Teachers, SLPS agree to 3-year contract," May 25, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Potential Per-Pupil savings Resulting from Health Benefits Changes Made in Michigan School Districts," March 6, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "Spring Lake board, union at impasse over health benefits," March 27, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "A Collective Bargaining Primer For Michigan School Board Members," Feb. 28, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "Growing number of districts seek solutions to costly health insurance," Dec. 15, 2005

SALINE, Mich. — Saline Public Schools needs to cut $700,000 from next year's budget and is considering an array of options to reach that goal, including contracting for noninstructional services and opening the district's enrollment through the Schools of Choice program, according to The Ann Arbor News.

The board has not finalized budget cuts, but the majority of cost-saving suggestions will be investigated, The News reported. These include participating in the Schools of Choice program, contracting for services and increasing pay-to-participate fees for extra-curricular activities.

The Ann Arbor News, "Saline board considers schools of choice to help budget," May 23, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "Goodrich schools to expand Schools of Choice program," May 1, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "Profit has a role in public schools," Feb. 23, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "Map: School contracting continues to grow," Feb. 23, 2007

MIDLAND, Mich. — As reported in the new issue of Michigan Education Report, education in Detroit is not defined by Detroit Public Schools, said Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. In talks this spring with charter school students and the media, Kilpatrick made it clear he would welcome more schools like Detroit's University Preparatory Academy, a public school academy with a 90 percent graduation rate. University Prep Superintendent Doug Ross talks about his first graduating class in an article in the summer 2007 edition of Michigan Education Report, published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Also in this issue, readers will find articles about:

  • a new study finds that consolidating school districts is not the best way to save money in education;

  • the first year at one of Michigan's newest private schools, Trinitas Classical School in Grand Rapids;

  • incentive pay programs for teachers in Michigan districts;

  • how schools are using radio, television and billboards to market themselves;

  • an update on the country's first statewide school voucher program, in Utah.

In this issue's commentary section, two Michigan career technical education advisers explain why a four-year college degree is not the best choice for every student, while two more educators take opposite sides in responding to the question, "Should Michigan raise the compulsory school attendance age from 16 to 18?"

Michigan Education Report is available online at

Also with this issue, Michigan Education Report introduces a new online forum dedicated to discussing Michigan education issues. Available at, the site features timely news about Michigan schools, a variety of open forums, and the chance to participate in an opinion survey on a current education issue.

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

Contact Managing Editor Sarah Grether at

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