detroit public schools

From the John and Leni Sinclair papers / UM Bentley Historical Library

Next week, Sarah Alvarez from our State of Opportunity team will explore the long shadow of a busing and integration case 40 years ago, and the way the outcome fundamentally altered the notion of a neighborhood school for students in Detroit and many communities throughout the metro area.

Check out this post by Kimberly Springer that shows how some Detroit parents were notified that their kids were going to be bused to another school.

The series “Abandoning the neighborhood school” will focus on these topics:

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Detroit Public Schools is reporting a 14 percent increase in enrollment for students in grades 9-12. Overall enrollment is still down by two percent, but that's a smaller decrease than previous years.

According to numbers collected by the district on count day, nine of DPS's 19  high schools saw an increase in students.

DPS launched an enrollment campaign over the summer in an effort to meet projections included in the district's budget. Despite enrollment increases in some high schools, DPS still didn't meet those goals.

User Motown31 / Creative Commons

Tomorrow is count day for Michigan's public schools.

The more students a school has in attendance on count day, the more money they get from the state.

It's a make or break day for Detroit Public Schools.

After months of sales pitches, finding out how many students enrolled

The district has spent months trying to recruit kids away from charter schools and private academies.

The Detroit Public Schools is tightening up its district-wide attendance policy this school year.

The policy is centered around what the district calls a “3-6-9 approach

Superintendent of academics Karen Ridgeway says the idea is pretty simple.

“There’s a reason for absences. Our whole initiative around 3-6-9 is to find out what that reason is, and to deal with that reason.”

Ridgeway says interventions begin when a child has a third unexcused absence from school.

user kconnors / morgueFile

DETROIT (AP) — Detroit schools are stepping up efforts to improve attendance, including working with prosecutors on cases involving students with many unexcused absences.

The Detroit Public Schools district announced the policy Friday.

The district says that three times of arriving more than 15 minutes after the start of class will equal one unexcused absence. After three unexcused absences, a phone call will be made to the student's home and an attendance agent will be notified.

With the sixth unexcused absence, the student will be referred to an attendance agent and intervention may include home visits by the state Department of Human Services. More than nine per school year will bring a truancy referral to Wayne County prosecutors.

In Michigan, parents can face fines or jail time if children don't go to school.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

 This week, Rina Miller and Jack Lessenberry discuss the Detroit Public Schools student quota, Washtenaw County’s identification card plan that includes undocumented immigrants, and the continuing campaigns of Detroit mayoral candidates Benny Napoleon and Mike Duggan.

Detroit Public Schools trying to meet enrollment goal

The Detroit Public School district is depending on enrolling 5,000 more students for the 2013-2014 school year.  If the district doesn’t meet its goal, they will lose millions of dollars in funding from the per-pupil-allowance from the state.  Jack Lessenberry says that Detroit used to enroll almost 200,000 students thirteen years ago.  They now only enroll 46,000.  Lessenberry says “they’ve been going door-to-door trying various gimmicks, of course those are sort of dubious too, to get kids to come back.  But it’s all about how many bodies they have in seats on Count Day.”

User Motown31 / Creative Commons

The clock’s running out for the Detroit Public School district.

School starts Tuesday, and DPS officials went into the summer with the hefty goal of recruiting 5,000 new students.

That's an awful lot of new kids, especially given that demographers predict just the opposite. They think DPS will lose students this year, like they have in the past.

It's an important goal for DPS, because even if they have the same number of students as last year, they’ll have to cut $38 million from the budget. 

user BES Photos / Flickr

That's the question raised in a guest column in Bridge Magazine by my next guest.

Margaret Trimer Hartley is superintendent of the University Prep Science & Math Academy in Detroit . She's also the former head of communications for the Michigan Education Association. She was also an education reporter at the Detroit Free Press.

Hartley joined us today.

Listen to the audio above.

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Governor Snyder pushes to expedite Medicaid expansion

A bill to expand Medicaid in Michigan passed the state Senate by a narrow vote earlier this week. But a vote to make those changes by January 1, 2014 failed.  This means that thousands of people will have to wait until spring to receive health coverage.  Michigan Radio’s Rick Pluta reports that Governor Rick Snyder hopes the Senate will revisit the issue as soon as Tuesday.

Deadline approaches for Detroit Public Schools recruitment

As the school year quickly approaches, Detroit Public Schools are running out of time to recruit new students.  Michigan Radio’s Kate Wells reports that the district’s summer goal was to gain 5,000 new students. If DPS does not meet this goal it may lose millions, resulting in possible layoffs and program cuts.  The district is currently retaining 93% of their students.

Detroit mayoral candidates continue campaign

Detroit mayoral candidates Mike Duggan and Benny Napoleon are continuing their campaigns while primary election drama settles out.  Michigan Radio’s Sarah Cwiek  reports  that both candidates “are trying to position themselves as champions of Detroit neighborhoods.” Duggan is rolling out a neighborhood plan to reduce blight, while Napoleon is accusing him of being tied to “downtown corporate interests.”

Thornberg Investment Management

The opportunity to buy bonds from a troubled school district run by an emergency manager, in a city that's just filed for bankruptcy, may seem akin to the opportunity to get your hands on some great snake oil, or a big lot in a Florida swamp, cheap.

But one municipal bond portfolio manager thinks Detroit Public Schools' bond offering, expected tomorrow, could actually be a good deal.

"There's an extraordinary amount of interest in buying short maturity bonds with high yield," says Josh Gonze of Thornberg Investment Management based in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Public Schools’ emergency manager was out knocking on doors Friday.

Jack Martin canvassed the neighborhood near Thurgood Marshall elementary school—his own alma mater--in an ongoing effort to boost the district’s enrollment.

Martin says the only way to “sustain” the district—still burdened with a $76 million deficit after more than 5 years of emergency financial managers-- is to lure more Detroit students back to traditional public schools.

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

City of Flint to recover tax money

The city of Flint has found a new source of income in the effort to balance the budget. Michigan Radio’s Steve Carmody reports that around six thousand Flint residents paid their federal income taxes, but did not pay city income taxes. This may allow the Flint to collect around a million dollars in back taxes.

Michigan ACLU sues Ann Arbor Public Schools

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a suit against Ann Arbor Public Schools because of its intent to charge tuition for a seventh class.  With the current plan, Ann Arbor high school students must pay $100 for a seventh-period elective class.  Kary Moss of the ACLU says “it creates a two-tiered system of education. Not only for students who qualify for free and reduced lunch, but many other students won't be able to afford the seventh hour."

Detroit Schools get annual report card

Excellent Schools Detroit has released its annual report card for the school system.  Out of more than two hundred schools, twenty-five percent scored a C+ or better.  Many of these higher-ranked schools are new and “fresh-start” schools, which has officials optimistic about the future of the district.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Catherine Ferguson Academy, a Detroit school for pregnant teens and their children, will open under a new charter this fall.

CFA was run by Detroit Public Schools until 2011. Blanche Kelso Bruce Academy and Wayne RESA  took over the school when it was at risk of being shut down. Blanche Kelso operates mostly strict-discipline schools for students who have been expelled. 

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Detroit Public Schools get new emergency manager

Governor Rick Snyder has named Jack Martin as the new emergency manager for Detroit Public Schools. Martin replaces Roy Roberts, who is retiring after two years in the position. Martin is leaving his position as Detroit’s chief financial officer.  Roberts says DPS still has a long way to go, but conditions are noticeably better than when he started; the current budget deficit is more than $70 million.

Retiree health care coverage suspended in Pontiac

Pontiac’s emergency manager Louis Schimmel has proposed the Emergency Loan Board address an expected $6 million general fund shortfall in the current budget year. The board approved a plan to suspend health care coverage for retirees from the city of Pontiac and increase their monthly pension payments. The city's roughly 1,000 pensioners will get an extra $400 a month to buy their own health care, the Associated Press reports.

EPA now accepting Great Lakes grant applications

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has $9.5 million to distribute for Great Lakes projects and is looking for takers. The money comes from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, an Obama administration program to clean up and protect the lakes from a variety of threats. A webinar explaining the application process will be held July 30.

U.S Department of Education

After two years as emergency manager of Detroit Public Schools, Roy Roberts has officially left the position. Yesterday, Governor Rick Snyder named current Detroit Chief Financial Officer Jack Martin to replace him.

Martin has also served as emergency manager of Highland Park Schools, and as CFO of the U.S. Department of Education.

Governor Snyder says he expects the transition between Roberts and Martin to be seamless.

DPS

Consider this some free advertising.

Right now, Detroit Public Schools is proposing its most optimistic budget in years:

  • No teacher layoffs
  • The return of after-school programming, at least in some schools
  • Minimal increases in class sizes
  • New parenting resources
  • A little more money for instruction: about $2 million in total 

But it’s all riding on whether the district can lure 5,000 students away from competitors.

That’s a big bet to make.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Some students and staff at Detroit’s Catherine Ferguson Academy say their education is so lackluster, it violates their civil rights.

The Detroit Public Schools handed the school for pregnant and parenting girls over to a charter operator in 2011, after students and teachers fought to keep it from closing.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Students in Michigan’s state-run district for the lowest-performing schools are making “impressive” strides.

At least, that’s how officials with the Education Achievement Authority are interpreting new test data.

The third set of online Scantron Performance Series tests administered to EAA students this year show what Chancellor John Covington calls “phenomenal” progress in reading and math.

District officials say 56% of all students demonstrated at least a year’s worth of progress in reading, and 65% did so in math.

Covington says most EAA students start out way behind, so it makes sense to measure growth rather than specific benchmarks.

He says these scores prove the district’s philosophy of “student –centered learning” and “meeting students where they’re at” is yielding results.

“Children aren’t able to move from one level to the next until they have clearly demonstrated they have mastered those standards and those requisite skills they need to move to the next level,” Covington says.

The district for the lowest-performing 5% of schools is only operating in 15 former Detroit Public Schools right now.

Governor Snyder is pushing to take the EAA statewide. But it’s faced considerable questions and opposition from Democrats and other critics, as legislation to codify the district in state law recently stalled in the State Senate.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

US education secretary to visit Detroit schools

"President Obama's education secretary will be in Detroit on Monday for a town hall meeting on education issues and visits to three area schools," the Associated Press reports.

Palisades nuclear power plant shut down after water leak

"Operators of the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant in southwestern Michigan removed it from service Sunday because of a repeat water leak from a tank that caused seepage into the control room last year. The plant has been under extra Nuclear Regulatory Commission scrutiny after numerous safety issues. There were four shutdowns last year and at least two this year," the Associated Press reports.

Michigan voters head to the polls Tuesday

Many Michigan communities will be voting in local elections on Tuesday. Local elections including filling the vacant mayor's seat in Troy, choosing a new state senator in Genesee County, and in many parts of the state, residents can vote on school board issues.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

This "week in review," Rina Miller and Jack Lessenberry discuss the U.S. Senate race, allowing health coverage for live-in partners and the retirement of the emergency manager for Detroit Public Schools.

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