Contents of this issue:
  • DPS loses fewer students
  • Hartland "very" pleased with contract custodians
  • Police stations inside Detroit schools
  • Legislation attempts to ease health care costs
  • Catholic school offers guarantee
  • Comment and enter to win an iPod

DETROIT — Detroit Public Schools estimates its enrollment is about 1,000 students lower than 2006, according to The Detroit News.

DPS enrollment had been dropping by about 10,000 students a year for several years, The News reported. The 2007 estimate is based on registration data provided by each building principal.

"That has been higher than anticipated," Superintendent Connie Calloway told The News. "Every principal says it has been higher. We are very happy about that."

DPS estimates about 115,000 students are enrolled, according to The News.

"We do need to stay above 100,000 in order to have a choice about whether charter schools can establish themselves," Calloway told The News.

The Detroit News, "Superintendent: More students than expected enrolled in Detroit schools this year," Sept. 4, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "DPS enrollment down by thousands," Feb. 23, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "Detroit school board votes to close 34 schools," April 10, 2007

HARTLAND, Mich. — Hartland Consolidated Schools expects to save more than $3 million over three years with a private custodial firm, according to the Livingston Daily Press & Argus.

Hartland saved $580,000 last year, and expects to save $877,000 this year and $1.6 million next year, the Press & Argus reported. The district contracts for custodial services with Grand Rapids Building Services Inc. This means the district realized an effective funding increase of about $103 per full-time-equivalent pupil last year, and it likely will see an effective funding increase of $156 per pupil this year and $285 per pupil next year.

GRBS also recently was hired by Howell Public Schools, which projects saving $1.7 million over three years, according to the Press & Argus. This is an effective funding increase of about $165 per pupil.

Those who are opposed to privatization, such as the Michigan Education Association school employees union, claim that contracting with a private firm can lead to low standards and a loss of control by the school district, the Press & Argus reported.

"It's absolutely not true that our facilities have spiraled downward," Hartland Superintendent Janet Sifferman told the Press & Argus. "We are very pleased with what has occurred with GRBS. Any requests we have made, they have complied with. They are very easy to work with."

Livingston Daily Press & Argus, "Privatization on upswing in schools," Sept. 4, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Effective Funding Increase from Competitive Contracting in Selected Michigan School Districts," Sept. 10, 2007

Michigan Privatization Report, "Custodial privatization comes to Hartland," July 26, 2006

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "A School Privatization Primer for Michigan School Officials, Media and Residents," June 26, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Survey 2007: More Growth in School Support Service Privatization," Aug. 16, 2007

DETROIT — Five police "mini-stations" will be located in Detroit Public Schools, primarily due to the merging of students from several high schools on the city's west side, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Armed police officers from the district's Office of Public Safety will patrol the hallways of high schools where students who used to be assigned to rival schools are now enrolled, the Free Press reported. There were 39,318 disciplinary referrals and 5,500 crime reports — not including truancy or property damage — in DPS buildings during the 2005-2006 school year, according to the Free Press.

The Free Press said that Kimberly Bishop's daughter, Meshia, cited Ford High School's main problems as "gangs, gambling and marijuana trafficking."

"It's a shame when you have to put a police station in a school," Bishop told the Free Press. "But now we're going to see just how far these DPS police are going to go to keep our children safe so they can get an education."

Student safety concerns have expanded outside the classroom, too. Deputies from the Wayne County Sheriff's Office are riding on city buses that transport students to and from school, according to The Detroit News. The Detroit Department of Transportation has a three-year contract with the county that includes uniformed and undercover deputies riding on buses.

"One of the most important aspects of our new DDOT bus patrol will be keeping an eye on the children to make sure they have safe passage to and from school every day," Sheriff Warren Evans told The News. "Children can be exposed to a lot of different types of people on public buses than they are on a yellow school bus, so it's important to have some additional sets of eyes to look out for them."

Detroit Free Press, "Keeping students safe: Police mini-stations put in some schools," Sept. 1, 2007

The Detroit News, "Wayne County deputies protect students on Detroit buses," Sept. 11, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "Detroit school janitor shot," Feb. 28, 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

Michigan Education Digest, "Two students stabbed at Detroit high school; shots fired," Jan. 17, 2006

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate recently approved bills that would allow school districts and local units of government to pool employee health insurance, according to Booth Newspapers.

Senate Bills 419, 420 and 421 would allow for health insurance pooling and require public employers to seek competitive bids for health insurance, according to Michigan Votes. Booth reported that such a change could save taxpayers millions of dollars, but is opposed by the Michigan Education Association school employee union. The Michigan Education Special Services Association, which privately contracts for health benefits and then acts as a third `party to administrate them to school districts, does not want to release claims data that districts usually would need in order to seek bids, according to Booth.

An editorial in The Grand Rapids Press said a 2004 Standard and Poor's analysis found school employee benefits in Michigan are 42 percent higher than the national average.

Booth reported that the Senate Fiscal Agency found that almost one-quarter of the money schools receive to educate students goes toward employee benefits.

Booth Newspapers, "Senate approves changes aimed at saving school health costs," Sept. 4, 2007 8270700.xml&storylist=newsmichigan

The Grand Rapids Press, "Serious about reform?" Sept. 9, 2007

Michigan Votes, "2007 Senate Bill 419"

Michigan Votes, "2007 Senate Bill 420"

Michigan Votes, "2007 Senate Bill 421"

Michigan Education Digest, "School employee benefits divert per pupil funding," Sept. 4, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "MESSA reports $65 million revenue gain in one year," May 24, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "School districts report saving money in insurance pool," Feb. 23, 2007

BERKLEY, Mich. — Our Lady of La Sallette Catholic School is offering parents of first graders a money-back guarantee if their children are not reading at a second-grade level by next spring, according to the Royal Oak Daily Tribune.

Tuition at the K-8 school is $5,080 a year, the Daily Tribune reported. Principal Carol Smith said she got the idea after seeing a billboard offering a guarantee for home mortgages.

"I guess I was a little nervous at first, or hesitant about how we were going to put it out there," first-grade teacher Ann Kolley told the Daily Tribune. "I feel very confident in the way I teach reading. I think with smaller classes it's easier for me to give kids the one-on-one attention they need."

Tresa Zumsteg, deputy superintendent for Oakland Schools, said she doesn't think public schools will do the same.

"Our guarantee is ... making sure kids make annual yearly progress," she told the Daily Tribune. "Obviously we can't guarantee a tuition refund, but there are sanctions if we don't make AYP."

Royal Oak Daily Tribune, "School offers money-back guarantee," Sept. 10, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "Kent County ISD to "guarantee" diplomas," March 7, 2006

Michigan Education Report, "Catholic schools and the common good," April 16, 2005

MIDLAND, Mich. — Go to and post a comment for a chance to win one of three iPods.

MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (, a quarterly newspaper 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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