public schools

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
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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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Politics & Government
10:47 am
Mon April 29, 2013

Pontiac schools headed for an emergency manager?

City of Pontiac.

Will Michigan's next emergency manager operate the Pontiac School District?

More from the Associated Press:

Officials plan to wrap up a review by next month of the Pontiac School District's finances that could lead to the appointment of an emergency manager or other measures.

District officials recently were notified by state Superintendent Mike Flanagan of the preliminary financial review, which is to begin Monday and end by May 24.

In a letter, Flanagan describes the public school district's situation as "critical and alarming."

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Education
9:41 am
Thu April 25, 2013

After it was outed, secret education group will now meet in public

Richard McLellan of the Oxford Foundation helped develop a plan to make sweeping changes to the way education in Michigan is funded.
Richard D. McLellan Wikipedia

Chad Livengood of the Detroit News revealed the group that met in secret, which dubbed itself a "skunk works" last week:

A secret work group that includes top aides to Gov. Rick Snyder has been meeting since December to develop a lower-cost model for K-12 public education with a funding mechanism that resembles school vouchers.

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Stateside
4:23 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

Fixing the budget by keeping kids from dropping out of school

TeachingWorks aims develop a nationwide system for all teaching programs, so that teachers are prepared the minute they walk into the classroom.
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

From Maine, to California - from Alaska to Hawaii - one of the biggest challenges facing governors and state lawmakers is how to plug the gaping holes in their budgets.

Certainly, Michigan is right in the thick of that challenge.
 
There are plenty of belt-tightening measures that have been taken - cost-cutting steps that can leave the quality of life for citizens somehow diminished.
 
But a new report offers another way to plug those holes in struggling state budgets: keep our kids from dropping out of high school. Increase the graduation rates.

The education advocates who put this report together find that high school dropouts cost our nation some $1.8 billion in lost tax revenue.
 
Today we took a closer look at the cost of high school dropouts, and we found out how one Michigan school district has successfully managed to raise its graduation rate.
 
We were joined by Michigan State University economist Charley Ballard and the Superintendent of Dearborn Public Schools, Brian Whiston.
 
Listen to the full interview above.

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Offbeat
10:34 am
Tue March 5, 2013

Schools shut down after man appears in camouflage

Credit Google Maps

Just in case you were thinking about it, you might want to reconsider walking into a school at 6 a.m. dressed in camouflage, a flak jacket, and a holster.

When a 21-year-old airman from the Selfridge Air National Guard appeared at L'Anse Creuse High School in Harrison Twp. this morning, he caused several schools to shutdown.

From the Port Huron Times Herald:

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Education
3:50 pm
Tue January 8, 2013

Additional Staff Cuts for Ypsilanti Schools

Dedrick Martin, Superintendent of Ypsilanti Schools
Ypsilanti Schools

Ypsilanti’s Public Schools continue to battle red ink before consolidating with Willow Run Community Schools this summer.

Dedrick Martin is Superintendent of Ypsilanti schools and says his job may even go away as part of the consolidation process this summer. 

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Education
5:43 pm
Wed January 2, 2013

Birmingham Schools Face Lawsuit Over Fees

A lawsuit challenges fees for items like padlocks
OliviaBurns MorgueFile.com

A lawsuit filed against Birmingham Public Schools says the district is violating state policy which bars mandatory special fees.  

Gym clothes, combination locks, and student planners are all common purchases for back to school shoppers.

But the lawsuit, brought by parents of a sixth grader in Birmingham, says the district cannot require these annual purchases. 

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Education
5:16 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

How social media closed down more than 100 Michigan schools

Tweets from students help spread the rumors.
Elaine Ezekiel Michigan Radio

You might have heard how Genesee and Lapeer counties closed down all their schools today and tomorrow due to rumors spreading across Facebook, Twitter, and texts.

But how could a rumor close so many schools?

Below is a Storify narrative of how one text message prompted a social media wildfire in southeast Michigan.

You can click on any of the linked text or images to follow the story further.

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Education
5:29 pm
Wed December 5, 2012

Debate heating up over expansion of state's school 'turnaround' district

Civics teacher Jonathan Hui, like 25 percent of teachers at Denby, is from the Teach For America program.
Jake Neher MPRN

State lawmakers are mulling over a number of bills that would overhaul public education in Michigan.

One measure would expand a new state-run district meant to turn-around schools with test scores in the bottom five-percent.

The idea has many public school officials pitted against each other.

Schools like Detroit's Denby High school are at the center of the debate.

Last year, it was one of the lowest-performing schools in the Detroit Public Schools system. Now, it’s one of 15 Detroit schools the state oversees through its Education Achievement Authority.

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Education
4:21 pm
Fri November 30, 2012

Michigan PTA writes Obama to reject new district as Race to the Top finalist

Shaton Berry speaking about the PSTA in Comcast announcement
Michigan PTSA Youtube.com

For the first time, Michigan could get a piece of President Obama’s Race to the Top prize money for education.

But not everyone’s celebrating.

The Education Achievement Authority was the only Michigan district to qualify as a Race to the Top finalist.

The new authority runs 15 of Michigan’s lowest performing schools in Detroit, but legislation at the state Capitol would expand the district statewide and cement it into law.

More than 100 Parent Teacher Association administrators, teachers and parents signed a letter this week asking Mr. Obama to reconsider his choice.

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Politics & Government
1:02 pm
Wed October 10, 2012

Teachers and school employees face pension plan deadline

Michigan’s 250,000 teachers and state school employees face a  deadline of October 26th to choose a new retirement plan. But some groups are asking the State Supreme Court to extend that deadline.

State legislators passed a law changing the pension system in August. Ellen Hoekstra represents the Michigan Federation of Teachers.

"We’re advising people to get as much information as they can and at least fix in their own mind what option they think would be best for themselves and their own family – prior to the 26th – in case that ends up being the deadline," said Hoekstra.

School employees will have four options.

One would require them to pay more than they pay now, to get the same pension.

Another option would allow people to pay the same amount they pay now, but get a smaller pension when they retire.

Education
10:25 am
Wed October 3, 2012

Today is 'Count Day' at Michigan's public schools

TeachingWorks aims develop a nationwide system for all teaching programs, so that teachers are prepared the minute they walk into the classroom.
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

It's count day at public school districts across Michigan.

This is the first year that "Fall Count Day" determines 90 percent of per-student funding for the 2012-2013 academic year (in prior years it was 75 percent).

A winter count day in February makes up the remaining 10 percent.

Many schools hold special events to make sure students come to class.

The Michigan Department of Education requires that students receive instruction in all classes on count day.

See more about the requirements here.

Politics & Government
2:13 pm
Wed September 26, 2012

Starting next week, welfare benefits will be linked to school attendance in Michigan

A new Michigan policy links welfare benefits to student attendance.
Mercedes Mejia Michigan Radio

New policy from Michigan’s Department of Human Services would strip welfare benefits from families with truant students.

Starting Monday, families will have to provide proof of student attendance in order to qualify for benefits.

Jennifer Chambers of The Detroit News reports families would become ineligible for benefits if they have a child between the ages 6-15 who is not attending school full time.

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Politics & Government
5:11 pm
Tue September 4, 2012

First day of classes in Michigan marked by new teacher retirement law

user kconnors morgueFile

The first day of classes was also the day Governor Rick Snyder made some big changes to how teachers and other public school employees will save for retirement.

The new law will require teachers to pay more for retirement benefits. New employees will no longer get retirement health care coverage, but a savings account to help them buy insurance.
    
Teachers unions are already in court to challenge the law, but Governor Snyder said he's not worried about the lawsuit. He said he expects to be sued when his administration makes big changes.

"So I sort of take that as part of the course of action, but we feel good about our litigation position in these matters. These are good things to do. We are doing them in good faith in partnership with the Legislature passing good statute," said Snyder.

The governor and many school administrators say the teacher pension system is over-burdened with debt, and the changes will ensure teachers' benefits will be there when they retire.

Education
10:23 am
Thu August 23, 2012

Teacher evaluation models to be tested in Michigan

(courtesy of KQED)

In 2011, a new teacher tenure law was put in place by the Michigan Legislature and Gov. Snyder. It called for teacher evaluations, but it didn't specify how these evaluations should be done.

Now the panel put in charge of figuring that out will test 4 national teacher evaluation models in 14 Michigan school districts.

More from Lori Higgins of the Detroit Free Press:

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