Contents of this issue:
  • Swartz Creek considers creating charter school
  • Grand Rapids contracts for custodial services
  • Genesee County voters approve school taxes
  • Flint schools pink slip another 28 employees
  • Romulus expands schools of choice policy

SWARTZ CREEK, Mich. — The Swartz Creek school district is considering establishing a charter public school for its alternative education students, according to The Flint Journal.

The earliest the school would open is the fall of 2009, and it would be the first charter public school authorized by a conventional school district in Genesee County, the Journal reported.

"As a school district and board we've made a decision to be prescriptive in education for each child," school board member Dallas Gatlin, who chairs the academic achievement committee, told The Journal. "We can't pick and choose which students we're going to do that for."

By establishing a charter, the district will grant the school autonomy and allow it to experiment with different educational methods. The school may also have flexible learning schedules, which could include three sessions over 12 hours daily and a year-round program. The school would serve students in grades 9-12 and the goal would be to get them on track to graduate by age 18, according to The Journal.

"It's pretty obvious the system that was in place didn't work for these kids," Superintendent Jeff Pratt told The Journal. "By chartering, it allows us as a school district to focus attention on specific populations in a way different from the majority of students we have."

The Flint Journal, "Swartz Creek School District will investigate creation of charter school for next school year," May 9, 2008

Michigan Education Report, "District hires company to provide alternative education," Nov. 14, 2007

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Grand Rapids board of education has hired a company to fill vacant part-time custodial positions, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

The board unanimously approved a deal with CSM Services through the end of the school year, which will cost the district $55,000. The recommendation has been made to sign a three-year contract with the company. The deal was a result of a high turnover rate among part-time custodians working for the district. During the 2006-2007 school year, the district had 55 custodial positions and by the end of the year, 22 of those employees left. Under the contract, current employees will keep their jobs, but any new hires will be made by CSM, The Press reported.

"When we're talking about school safety, that also means keeping the buildings clean to keep people from getting sick," Grand Rapids Education Association union President Paul Helder told The Press. "They haven't been filling these jobs, and then the buildings are dirty, and you have problems like roaches."

Board member David Allen still backs the plan.

"One of the things people bring up when they hear 'the p word' — privatization — is that we won't be able to control who is coming into our schools," Allen told The Press. "But this plan doesn't eliminate any jobs and is more to deal with the incredible turnover in these positions."

The Grand Rapids Press, "Private service to clean Grand Rapids Schools," May 6, 2008 91930.xml&coll=6

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Custodial Contracting," in "A School Privatization Primer," June 26, 2007

FLINT, Mich. — Voters in Beecher, Fenton and Goodrich agreed to local school taxes, according to The Flint Journal.

In Beecher, 75 percent of voters approved an 18-mill levy on nonhomestead property. If the measure had failed, the district would have lost $931,000 in revenue. Parent Karen Spiller voted for the proposal so the schools can remain on par with other districts, The Journal reported.

"I voted for the millage because Beecher students should have the same opportunities as other schools," Spiller, the parent of a high school senior, told The Journal.

Sixty-eight percent of Fenton voters approved the district's 18-mill levy on nonhomestead property. Residents also voted in favor of a 3-mill increase to be used if there is a "Headlee rollback." The measures provide the district with $5.2 million in additional general fund revenues, according to The Journal.

Goodrich voters also approved a 3-mill Headlee override, giving the district an additional $239,000.

The Flint Journal, "Despite struggling economy nonhomestead renewals approved in Beecher and Fenton schools; Goodrich voters pass Headlee override proposal," May 7, 2008

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Local Government," in "A Michigan School Money Primer," May 30, 2007

FLINT, Mich. — The Flint board of education voted to send 28 more lay-off notices to employees, according to The Flint Journal.

Superintendent Linda Thompson said the pink slips — sent to parent facilitators and behavioral specialists — are precautionary and, more than likely, temporary. The layoffs go into effect on June 13, but will be rescinded before next school year when the district receives $16 million in federal Title I aid, The Journal reported.

Community member Belinda Mack isn't too worried about the layoffs.

"It's sad some people don't see the big picture of what's going on," Mack told The Journal. "We don't have the money and we have to do what we can to keep the children we have. Everyone should take a business class to understand."

The 28 pink slips are in addition to the 240 layoff notices sent to teachers and administrators in April. The district will also close four schools to help alleviate budgeted spending that is $12 million over expected revenues, according to The Journal.

The Flint Journal, "Flint schools send 28 more lay-off notices, hope to bring staff back," May 7, 2008

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "School District Budgeting," in "A Michigan School Money Primer," May 30, 2007

ROMULUS, Mich. — The Romulus Community Schools has revised its schools of choice policy and will now allow students assigned to other districts, in grades kindergarten through eighth grade, to enroll in its schools, according to The Romulus Roman.

The district first experimented with schools of choice two years ago and only opened enrollment in one of its elementary schools. Last year the district expanded its policy by creating schools of choice slots in two elementary schools. Now, there will be 10 schools of choice spots per grade at each of the four elementary schools, as well as at the middle school, The Roman reported.

"What happened last year is that we had too many students at the facilities we advertised," Superintendent Carl Weiss told The Roman. "This strategically is a little different — we can place the students at any building where we have the room."

Last year, 38 students from outside the district chose to attend Romulus schools. District officials hope to fill all of the available schools of choice slots through an advertising campaign this summer. If the district fills all available slots, it will receive about $700,000 in additional revenue.

"I think everyone knows that all of the schools around us are doing this," Weiss told The Roman. "We haven't had any complaints since we started taking students, so we have a lot of support."

The Romulus Roman, "School of Choice plan is expanded," May 8, 2008

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Conclusion: Competition Is Improving Public Schools for Michigan Children," in "The Impact of Limited School Choice on Public School Districts," July 24, 2000

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Foundation Allowance: General Education," in "A Michigan School Money Primer," May 30, 2007

MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (, an online 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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