Contents of this issue:
  • Charter school gets building permits, still faces legal battles
  • New technology hits Metro Detroit classrooms
  • New Traverse City charter up and running
  • Ann Arbor Schools receives $4.8 million from state
  • Westwood expands alternative education company's program
  • Comment and win an iPod

MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. — A Macomb County Circuit Court Judge has ruled in favor of granting a charter public school permits to build in Warren, according to The Detroit News.

Conner Creek Academy East filed a lawsuit against Michigan's Bureau of Construction Codes, a part of the Department of Labor and Economic Growth, for failing to issue building permits it said it would provide. Conner Creek plans to build an $11 million, 61,000-square-foot school. Macomb Circuit Judge David Viviano also ruled that the city of Warren may join the state as a defendant in any remaining legal battles, The News reported. Jeff Schroeder, assistant city attorney for Warren, told The News the city plans to fight the new public school, claiming it will damage Warren's neighborhoods and roads.

Robert Davis, Conner Creek's attorney, said the school has fulfilled all legal requirements for the project, and that the city should not be involved in the case, The News reported.

"The city of Warren has intervened in a case which only sought to have the state do its job and issue the necessary permits as approved by the state superintendent," Davis told The News. "The city has a well-known history of bullying when the law does not accommodate their thought of the day. This is calculated delay tactics and bordering on harassment, for which my client will seek damages."

The Detroit News, "Charter school wins permit battle, but Warren continues the fight," Nov. 21, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "Charter students growing up," Nov. 14, 2007

DETROIT — Many Metro Detroit schools are taking steps to make cutting edge technology available to students in ways to keep them engaged and to hopefully boost academic performance, according to the Detroit Free Press.

In Bloomfield Township, some classrooms are utilizing "interactive blackboards" that serve as a projector screen and computer and allow students to participate in the lessons with small voting devices. The district is planning to install one of these boards in each classroom by the start of next school year. Additionally, in New Baltimore, fifth grade students create podcasts of lessons and put them on the Web, the Free Press reported.

The Mandarin Chinese language program in the South Redford Schools utilizes a webcam to communicate with a teacher at a school in China, while also interacting with Chinese pen pals.

Schools are incorporating technology in an effort to match the learning styles of a generation brought up using technology.

"If we deliver information like we used to do in the traditional way, kids are bored in the classroom," Ledong Li, an assistant professor of education at Oakland University, told the Free Press. "They don't feel they are engaged."

Detroit Free Press, "Technology Clicks with Kids: Computers transform classrooms," Nov. 26, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Freedom to Learn: Rebooted," April 4, 2005

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — A new charter public school is having a tough start in Traverse City after facing zoning regulation problems, but school officials, students and parents are confident in what it has to offer, according to the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

The Traverse City College Preparatory Academy is chartered by Bay Mills Community College and run by the Leona Group LLC. The school focuses on a college prep curriculum and leadership training. The school currently enrolls 50 students, but expected about twice that number, the Record Eagle reported.

"We have a mission and a vision," said Cameron Owens, the school's administrator. "But we believe people are in a wait and see mode. We underestimated how difficult this would be."

Organizers faced trouble with zoning regulations because of plans to transform a previously existing church into the school. The school wasn't completed in time to attract as many students as it would have liked, but families with students enrolled in the school are happy with what they have seen so far, according to the Record-Eagle.

Parent Sheri Wallace home-schooled her son, Geoffrey, currently a sophomore, and was looking for a school with small class sizes and dedicated staff members.

"His excitement is about the staff here — their enthusiasm and creativity is what drew us in," she said. "We were also looking for a small, safe environment."

Traverse City Record-Eagle, "Parents, students are 'pioneers' in start of new charter high school," Nov. 20, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Impact of Limited School Choice on Public School Districts," July 24, 2000

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The Ann Arbor Public Schools is working to decide where it can use the $4.8 million it will receive from the state after clearing up a bookkeeping dispute stemming from the passage of Proposal A in 1994, according to The Ann Arbor News.

After the passage of Proposal A, Scio Township in Washtenaw County continued to send tax revenue to the Ann Arbor Public Schools instead of forwarding it onto the state. In 2004-2005, state officials began deducting a portion of the $13 million the district received in revenue that should have initially been sent to Lansing. It appears, however, that the state deducted $4.8 million too much and will return it to the district, The News reported.

The district already has a fund balance equal to about 15 percent of the total budget, and is considering putting the money into its capital needs account, according to The News.

The Ann Arbor News, "Schools face challenge: What to do with extra $4.8M," Nov. 25, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "School Funding, Proposal A, and Property Taxes," Nov. 5, 2001

DEARBORN HEIGHTS, Mich. — The Westwood Community School district is expanding the role of an alternative education company in order to serve more at-risk students, according to the Dearborn Press and Guide.

Ombudsman Educational Services, an affiliate of Educational Services of America, is based in Nashville, Tenn., and manages more than 120 schools and programs throughout the country.

After relocating, the program will be able to accommodate about 90 at-risk high school students, an increase of 30 students from its previous capacity. Ombudsman serves students with issues such as truancy, learning or behavioral disabilities and academic skill deficiencies. The company reports an 85 percent success rate nationally, with those students graduating from the program or their assigned school district, or earning academic credits.

Dearborn Press and Guide, "Ombudsman expands to serve more at-risk students," Nov. 25, 2007

Michigan Education Report, "District hires company to provide alternative education," Nov. 14, 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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