education

Education
1:22 pm
Fri May 17, 2013

The 15 Michigan schools running the biggest deficits

Carstens Elementary-Middle School in Detroit.
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

Bake sales, magazine subscriptions and car washes ... it seems school systems are perennially low on money.

But with one Michigan school system closing its doors before the school year ends, others consolidating to save money, and still another giving up on its high school; Michigan schools seem to be in an especially bad spot.

Blame gets spread around.

It's the economy - mismanagement - declining enrollment - excessive funding cuts - high retiree costs - or cumbersome union contracts.

Pick whatever reason you like best, it doesn't change the fact that many Michigan schools are in trouble.

The State's Deputy Superintendent of Schools wrote this in a recent memo to local school officials:

"... we have seen a marked increase in the number of districts that have experienced a deficit fund balance. The magnitude of some of these districts seems almost insurmountable."

Let's give it a little perspective.

Over the last decade, here are the number of schools that ran a deficit in a given school year.

Michigan had 742 school districts in 2002-2003. Today, the state has 805 districts.

Of the 805 districts today, as the chart shows, 49 are running deficits.

Here are the fifteen schools in Michigan with the biggest projected budget deficits as a percentage of their expected overall revenue. It should be noted that these numbers could change as the school year advances.

Read more
Stateside
5:38 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

The Living Room: Memories from a high school dance

Looking good on prom night.
Aaron Alexander Flickr

In May's segment of The Living Room, Allison Downey tells the story of a high school dance she went to that ended a little differently than she expected. 

The Living Room is a monthly series produced by Zak Rosen and Allison Downey. 

In today's segment, we hear Allison's song 'All that Matters.'

It was produced & engineered by Michael Crittenden at Mackinaw Harvest Studios in Grand Rapids

John Austin: Electric bass

Rod Capps: Lead guitar

Brian Morril: Percussion

Annie Capps: Harmony vocals

Allison: Lead vocals and rhythm guitar

To hear the story, click the link above.

Education
12:15 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

'Massive' teacher layoffs planned in Pontiac, Flint

A school in Flint, Mich.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

The Flint School District is planning over one hundred layoffs, the Flint Journal reported.

139 teachers and faculty in Flint will receive pink slips, with the staff cuts going into effect the day after school gets out on June 10.

While the interim superintendent emphasized the possible rehiring of many of these teachers at the end of June, the school district’s deficit reduction plan calls for firing 150 teachers over the next three years.

The Flint School District has three years to chop away at a $15.6-million deficit. If the deficit isn’t eliminated by their 2015 deadline, the district could lose state funding.

Read more
Education
4:34 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

Mid-year public school closings rare nationwide

The Buena Vista School Board meets.
Sarah Alvarez Michigan Radio

A public school in Michigan closing before the year ends isn't just a state story.

The Washington Post picked up on the troubles of the Buena Vista school district in a piece by Lyndsey Layton today.

Layton looks at how often these kinds of closings happen around the country:

Read more
Education
12:02 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

Buena Vista schools get aid from state, doors will open today

Parents and children embrace during a Buena Vista School Board meeting.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Students at Saginaw County's Buena Vista school district may be back in the classroom soon. The state has approved the district's plan to bring itself out of debt.

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan has approved the release of state aid funds to the Buena Vista school district.

The district hasn't held class since May 3 because it ran out of money to pay its teachers. Last night the Buena Vista board of education approved a deficit elimination plan.

Flanagan says he is now encouraging the local school board and administration to reopen the doors as soon as possible. The state will release state aid to Buena Vista on May 20th, allowing the district to make payroll on May 24th.

The aid will put an end to any discussion of a “Plan B” that was developed earlier this week to have Buena Vista students use federal money to attend a skills camp over the summer.

The schools will be open today for those students who qualify for free meals.

Education
11:19 am
Wed May 15, 2013

Emergency manager for Detroit schools extends his stay

Roy Roberts
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Roy Roberts was supposed to leave his post tomorrow. 

Today, he announced he will stay on the job for another six months.

In a letter to the staff at Detroit Public Schools, Roberts said Gov. Rick Snyder agreed to extend his contract.

Many of you are probably asking yourselves why I requested this contract extension. My answer is really quite simple, and is the reason I took this job in the first place – it’s about educating the children of Detroit.

DPS is on a good trajectory, with improved test scores and graduation rates, a balanced budget, and a solid
strategic plan, developed by all of us, that focuses on neighborhood-centered, quality schools. I want to do everything I can to ensure that we complete this school year in keeping with this trajectory – and help begin the preparation for an even more successful 2013-14 academic and fiscal year.

The Detroit News reports that Roberts will work on a budget for the coming school year for the district "which educates about 53,000 students and grapples with a graduation rate of less than 70 percent."

Read more
Education
1:01 am
Wed May 15, 2013

Budget deficit forcing school officials to close Albion High School

Some students cried when the vote to close the high school was taken at last night's Albion School Board meeting.
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Albion School Board voted last night to close the district’s high school.

Beginning this fall, the mid-Michigan district will only serve students in grades K through eight.

Some students cried.  Others just shook their heads, after the school board voted 5 to 1, with one abstention, to close Albion High School.

School board members said repeatedly they didn’t want to close the school, but a projected million dollar budget deficit could not be ignored.

Read more
Education
12:59 am
Wed May 15, 2013

There's more money in Michigan's school aid fund, but should it be spent on schools on the brink?

(file photo)
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Battle Creek State Senator Mike Nofs says he doesn’t think higher than expected revenue in the school aid fund should be used to bail out struggling school districts.

Nofs says at today’s revenue estimating conference, state officials will announce the school aid fund has nearly $100 million more than predicted.

Nofs expects there will be push to use that money to help the struggling Pontiac and Buena Vista school districts. But he says that’s not a good idea.

Read more
Education
12:51 am
Wed May 15, 2013

Buena Vista schools approve plan, await state action

Buena Vista Superintendent Deborah Hunter-Harvill and School Board President Randy Jackson at Tuesday night's tension-filled emergency meeting.
Sarah Alvarez Michigan Radio

The Buena Vista School District unceremoniously shut down ten days ago, sending staff and students home for the year after the district ran out of money.

At Tuesday night’s emergency school board meeting there was almost universal confusion about what happens next. 

The school board unanimously approved a deficit elimination plan they hope will allow state aid payments to start up again so students can get back in the classroom. 

If that doesn't work, the board grudgingly approved a plan for a summer "skills building camp," in lieu of traditional classroom time.

Nobody at the meeting seemed very happy about that option.

Read more
Education
3:47 pm
Tue May 14, 2013

Buena Vista's school year could be saved under a new plan

Parents and children embrace during a Buena Vista School Board meeting.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

An entire school district closing before the school year ends is a bit of a black eye for public education in Michigan.

Just on perception alone, you would think politicians and administrators would jump to fix the problem. Instead, as Michigan Radio's Sarah Hulett pointed out, many just put up their hands.

Now, some news of movement.

Read more
Education
4:46 pm
Mon May 13, 2013

Buena Vista school district to use federal funds for 'summer camps'

Student artwork given to Buena Vista kindergarten teacher Marci Karwat.
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

The Buena Vista school district will try to run summer camps to help students affected by the sudden cancelation of classes for the balance of the school year.

That's one of the decisions today from a meeting of state and local education officials.

The shut-down will not stop eligible seniors from graduating, or other students from advancing to the next grade. The district in Saginaw County will try to run four- to six-week camps over the summer break to help students make up what they missed, and prepare for the coming school year.

The money for those camps will not come from the state, but from federal funds.

The Buena Vista district abruptly ceased operations earlier this month. That was after the state cut off aid payments because of debts owed by the district.

Law
12:15 pm
Mon May 13, 2013

Understanding the new ruling on teachers' union dues

In the classroom.
Mercedes Mejia Michigan Radio

This past Thursday, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the State of Michigan can proceed with Public Act 53, a law prohibiting school districts from deducting union dues from teachers’ paychecks.

The 2-1 ruling overturned a Detroit federal court preliminary injunction that ruled in favor of the unions. In June of 2012, U.S. District Judge Denise Page Hood issued the preliminary injunction against Public Act 53.

With the new ruling, public schools are no longer required to deduct the union dues from the paychecks of teachers and other school employees.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Thursday's opinion read: “The act merely directs one kind of public employer to use its resources for its core mission, rather than the collection of union dues.” 

Read more
Education
4:49 pm
Sat May 11, 2013

State signs plan to help ailing Pontiac schools

Credit pontiac.k12.mi.us / Pontiac School District

Michigan's top education official has signed off on a plan to help the beleaguered Pontiac School District.

Read more
Education
12:50 pm
Fri May 10, 2013

2 Michigan schools could close early; in 1993 Kalkaska did it on purpose

Outside Kalkaska High School
Kalkaska schools

No doubt, public schools in Michigan are struggling.

Around 400 students in the Buena Vista school district in Saginaw have been shut out after the district announced they couldn't make payroll.

And it was revealed yesterday that Pontiac schools are close to running out of money and might have to close their doors early.

Read more
Education
12:43 am
Fri May 10, 2013

Buena Vista school district could be headed down the path to an emergency manager

Parents and children embrace during last night's Buena Vista School Board meeting
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

A Saginaw area school district that's closed its doors has now asked the state to review its finances.

That's the first step toward a state appointed emergency manager.

But the move does not guarantee the District's 400 students will be back in class anytime soon.

The Buena Vista school board heard from parents and students last night, angry about the abrupt and apparent early end of the school year.

“If we don’t get these kids back in school…we’re going to be the ones who destroyed their lives,” one upset father told the school board. 

Read more
Education
1:35 pm
Thu May 9, 2013

After four days of no classes, Saginaw district prepares for financial emergency

An empty school hallway.
Christopher Webb Flickr

It’s day four of no school for Saginaw-based Buena Vista School District, as the district prepares to declare a financial emergency.

As Mark Brush reported on Tuesday, the school district canceled classes earlier this week after teachers were laid off. The layoffs come after the district of about 450 students learned the state was withholding funding for April, May and June.

Read more
Politics & Culture
5:21 pm
Wed May 8, 2013

Stateside for Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

On today's program, we explore the idea of secret work groups crafting public policy in Lansing, and how transparent Michigan's government should be.

And we look at whether expanding the lottery to the internet is a good idea.

We'll also hear how new technology being developed here in Michigan might be able to help authorities identify potential threats in airports or in large crowds.

Read more
Education
9:11 am
Wed May 8, 2013

The top 10 high schools in Michigan (according to two magazines)

U.S. News released its rankings for top Michigan High Schools
User Motown31 Creative Commons

Seven Michigan high schools received "gold medals" from the U.S. News Best High Schools 2013 rankings. 68 high schools received "silver medals," and 131 received "bronze medals."

Here's their top ten:

Read more
Education
11:14 am
Tue May 7, 2013

Michigan school district out of money, closes doors today

School closed today. The announcment on the Buena Vista School District's website.
screen grab

The financial storm has been brewing at the Buena Vista School District outside of Saginaw for some time, but it came to a head today.

The Buena Vista School District announced that the school is closed today and that teachers will be laid off.

A community meeting is expected to be held at 6 p.m tonight.

The District has faced declining enrollment at a time when public education funds are being cut in the state.

Read more
Education
5:05 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

U.S. education secretary, Snyder tour EAA and DPS schools

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Governor Rick Snyder read to preschoolers at Thirkell Elementary School in Detroit Monday.
Jake Neher MPRN

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan says public schools in Detroit have improved in the last four years. Duncan was in Detroit today with Governor Rick Snyder. They toured a traditional public school and a school in the state’s Education Achievement Authority.

The EAA is a controversial state-run authority meant to turn around failing schools. Based on his tour today, Duncan says the EAA shows promise.

“Obviously, long long way to go, and there’ll be bumps in the road and hurdles. But my only goal is to see every child be successful,” said Duncan. “I think the only way we get there is if, again, the EAA is successful, the Detroit public schools are successful, charters are successful. We just need great public schools across the state and across the country.”

Read more

Pages