Contents of this issue:
  • Columbia schools contracts for substitutes, coaches
  • Charter public school expanding
  • Ishpeming teachers union rejects cost savings
  • Saginaw loss of students a "victory"
  • DPS enrollment could fall 10,000 again
  • Comment and enter to win an iPod

BROOKLYN, Mich. — Columbia Public Schools will save about $30,000 a year after voting to contract for substitute teachers and athletic coaches, according to The Jackson Citizen Patriot.

The district's board of education voted to hire Professional Contract Management Inc. to oversee the payroll for substitutes and coaches, The Citizen Patriot reported. The district will realize the savings because it will no longer have to contribute to retirement funds for those employees.

Since those employees are not full-time, they would not be able to accumulate enough years of service to ever collect on the retirement benefits, Superintendent Brent Beamish told The Citizen Patriot. The contract employees will get 4 percent more pay because of the savings.

"I think it's a win-win situation for everyone involved," Beamish told The Citizen Patriot, adding that the savings will go toward new books for students.

"There's some forethought, considering that (Gov. Jennifer) Granholm wants (schools) to consolidate services," board Secretary Jeff Arnett told The Citizen Patriot. "That's what we're doing already."

The Jackson Citizen Patriot, "Board approves plan that may save $30,000," Sept. 11, 2007

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

Michigan Education Report, "Beyond brooms, burgers and buses," Nov. 21, 2006

FLINT, Mich. — International Academy of Flint will double in size with a 52,000-square-foot addition costing $17 million, according to The Flint Journal.

International Academy, the Flint area's largest charter public school, will get 23 new classrooms, a testing hall, science lab, auditorium and gym, The Journal reported. Parents of about 925 students chose to enroll their children at International Academy this year, and enrollment could reach 1,200 by 2009, The Journal reported.

Proceeds from the sale of tax-free bonds will pay for the project, according to The Journal.

"It's pretty incredible a public school academy ... would be expanding their facility at the level we're doing," school Director Traci Cormier told The Journal.

The Flint Journal, "Project to add gym, labs, more to Int'l Academy," Sept. 11, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "A charter challenge: Finding an affordable building can be a hurdle," Aug. 15, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "Privately managed public school raises achievement for minority students," May 30, 2002

ISHPEMING, Mich. — The Ishpeming teachers union voted down a contract that would have saved the district $200,000 a year, according to The Marquette Mining Journal.

The contract offer would have required teachers to pay up to a $20 co-pay for their own prescription medicine, The Journal reported, and would have given teachers pay raises reaching 2.5 percent in the final year.

Union President Robert Fox told The Journal the offer was unfair.

"The district is still profiting," Fox said. "We're conceding a lot here."

The Marquette Mining Journal, "Ishpeming district, teachers continue talks," Sept. 11, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "Districts look to cut insurance bills through health savings accounts," Aug. 15, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "MEA attempts to reduce health care costs," Sept. 4, 2007

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

SAGINAW, Mich. — Enrollment in the Saginaw School District is below 10,000 for the first time in 50 years, according to The Saginaw News.

About 9,950 students are attending classes, a drop of about 560 compared to last year, The News reported. The district had anticipated a drop of about 600 students.

"I'd call (this) a victory; at least we haven't lost any more than 600," school board President Norman Braddock told The News. "We feel confident that we did everything we could."

The district would not tell The News how much money was spent on a marketing campaign that included billboards and media advertising aimed at keeping students assigned to the district enrolled, according to The News.

"It confirms for us that this community supports its public schools," Superintendent Gerald Dawkins told The News. "It's too early to call it a moral victory, but we like our chances."

Enrollment for 2006 was about 840 students lower than 2005, and an additional 230 students left the district last spring, The News reported.

The Saginaw News, "When a loss is a win," Sept. 13, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "Saginaw public charter school working to open on time," Aug. 28, 2007

Michigan Education Digest, "Saginaw County schools face competition from new charter," July 24, 2007

DETROIT — Enrollment for Detroit Public Schools could drop by 10,000 students again, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Currently, about 106,000 students assigned to the district are enrolled, which is 5,000 fewer than expected, the Free Press reported. DPS ended the 2006-2007 school year with about 116,000 students. The Detroit News in early September, however, reported that Superintendent Connie Calloway said building principals had told her about 115,000 students were enrolled.

The discrepancy in enrollment figures could mean DPS is over budget by about $37 million, the Free Press reported. If the district falls below 100,000 students, it would lose its "first-class" status under state law, according to the Free Press, meaning more charter public schools could open in the district to serve the needs of parents and students.

Detroit Free Press, "Schools may have to cut $37 million," Sept. 14, 2007

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

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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