Education

11:04 am
Thu May 16, 2013

Former President George W. Bush helps to raise $400,000 for GR school

Lead in text: 
Former President George W. Bush spoke Wednesday to a crowd of roughly 900 during the second annual Leaders of Tomorrow Gala in Grand Rapids. The event raised $400,000 to support the West Michigan Aviation Academy, a school founded by Dick DeVos.
GRAND RAPIDS, MI - Former President George W. Bush Wednesday charmed a crowd of 900 attending the second annual West Michigan Aviation Academy's Leaders of Tomorrow Gala with his candor and trademark wit.
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
2:42 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

Michigan economy in 4th year of recovery, housing up

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Economists say Michigan's economy is turning around for the fourth straight year in part because the housing sector is on the mend.

University of Michigan experts told state lawmakers Wednesday that employment grew significantly faster in the past two years than previously estimated.

Michigan's unemployment rate dropped 1.3 percentage points in 2012 and is expected to continue gradually declining.

The downside is the state's jobless rate is high, above where it was before the national downturn in the economy in 2008.

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.

Stateside
3:34 pm
Mon May 13, 2013

What's happening with school funding in Michigan

After Buena Vista closed, what's next for Michigan education?
courtesy: Mott High School

An interview with Tom Watkins and Rick Pluta.

With reports of Buena Vista Schools closing a month early due to a lack of funding, we talked about education in Michigan on today's show.

How did Buena Vista find itself in this position? And, could this happen to other schools soon?

As we picked apart what's going on in school districts across Michigan, we were joined by Tom Watkins, Michigan's former State Superintendent and Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network.

To listen to the full discussion, click the link above.

Education
6:00 am
Mon May 13, 2013

In Buena Vista, a school district's future hangs in limbo

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

State officials announced over the weekend that they will lend money to Pontiac schools, and avert a payless payday there this week.

But there’s still no resolution in Buena Vista Township, where the school system abruptly shut down after running out of money a month before the end of the school year. So teachers, parents and students in the tiny school district near Saginaw are trying to figure out what to do next.      

“I hope the school district can work something out there,” Gov. Rick Snyder said late last week about a plan to educate Buena Vista’s 400 students.

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
2:38 pm
Fri May 10, 2013

EMU Board gives President two year contract extension

EMU President Susan Martin
Eastern Michigan University

EMU's Board of Regents unanimously approved a two-year contract extension for the university's president, Susan Martin, at a special meeting on Friday.

Last fall, the Board reprimanded Martin for problem drinking, and told her to seek counseling or lose her job.

There was no mention of the issue during the Board meeting, in which Martin was praised for leading Eastern "during a five-year period of significant growth in enrollment, academic success, and major upgrades to campus buildings and the University's infrasture," said Board chair Francine Parker.

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
Breaking
3:17 pm
Thu May 9, 2013

A second Michigan school district could close its doors

The city of Pontiac.
Dave Garvin Flickr

There's no re-open in sight for the Buena Vista school district.

Now, Pontiac schools could be next to close its doors.

The district could be forced to shut down operations before the end of its school year.

A letter sent this week by state Superintendent Mike Flanagan warns Pontiac schools the district won’t be able to make its Friday, May 17, payroll.

It’s been almost a week since the tiny Buena Vista school district in Saginaw County abruptly closed its doors.

There is still no plan to get the roughly 400 displaced students into classrooms for the balance of the school year.

Governor Rick Snyder says a financial bailout by the state is very unlikely.

“Well, I hope there’s solutions that could be short of that, and that’s what we’re having discussions on, the community coming together, other districts working with the state, all of us coming together to say, let’s solve this problem.”  

Buena Vista ran out of cash because the state is withholding payments to make up for a grant the district should not have received.

The district’s finances and academic performance were already in poor shape. Buena Vista and Pontiac are both on the state’s “watch” list.

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
Education
5:43 pm
Wed May 8, 2013

Bill would link Michigan teachers' pay to student growth

Credit clarita / MorgueFile

New teachers in Michigan would be paid based primarily on student growth under a bill in Lansing.

But some lawmakers question whether now is the right time to take up the issue.

The state Legislature is still waiting on a report that will recommend a state-wide teacher evaluation system.

Lawmakers like Rep. David Knezek (D-Dearborn Heights) say they should wait to see what the report says before they switch to a merit-pay system for teachers.

“I don’t know why we’re jumping the gun on this. We should be waiting for what the commission comes back and says to us is the proper course of action," Knezek says.  “I don’t think the two necessarily, one has to be before the other.”

Bill sponsor Pete Lund (R-Shelby Township) says the commission’s recommendation could be more useful if they already have a system in place. Lund says tying educators’ pay to their performance in the classroom would promote student growth and weed out bad teachers.

“We no longer say you are a better teacher just because you’ve been teaching for a long time," Lund says. "If teaching a long time has helped you, your students will grow, they will be better students, they will learn more, and you’ll be properly compensated properly for it.”

Read more
Stateside
5:01 pm
Wed May 8, 2013

EAA progress report: how 15 failing Detroit schools fared this year

How do we rescue and turn around schools that are failing?

That's one of the biggest challenges concerning the education system in Michigan. Governor Snyder and many in the Legislature - especially Republicans - favor the EAA as a solution.

The education Achievement Authority is a new school system for Michigan's worst-performing public schools. Since last fall, 15 Detroit schools have been run under the EAA, changing the educational experience for nearly 10,000 students and 400 teachers.

Read more

Pages