school funding

Education
6:30 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

State Board of Education tries to make school funding a central election issue

The debate over school funding is ramping up.
Thomas Favre-Bulle Flickr

The Michigan State Board of Education hopes public school funding will be a top priority for voters when they head to the polls in November.

The board on Tuesday kicked off a series of discussions meant to publicly critique the way the state pays for public education. The talks will continue at its monthly meetings until November.

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Education
11:49 am
Wed November 6, 2013

What kind of education do you get if you spend $12,000 per student?

Nathan Cohen teaches 5th grade at Pierce Elementary in Birmingham
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

Our State of Opportunity team has been diving into the issue school funding over the past couple months.

The vast majority of Michigan K-12 schools get between $7,000 - $8,000 per pupil every year. But there are some schools that get more…a lot more. We're talking about roughly a $5,000 difference between the richest schools in the state and the poorest schools.

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Education
11:13 am
Fri July 5, 2013

Benton Harbor student population down 45% in a decade, schools work to reverse decline

Benton Harbor High School
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Benton Harbor Area Schools is already campaigning to get students enrolled in the fall. That’s because the district hopes to dig out of a major budget deficit by attracting more students.

Benton Harbor schools narrowly avoided a state appointed emergency manager a couple of years ago.

Superintendent Leonard Seawood says since then, they’ve balanced the budget for two years in a row.

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Education
10:22 pm
Thu June 20, 2013

Lansing school board approves a lean budget for the upcoming school year

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Lansing school board last night approved the district's budget for next year.

The $142 million spending plan is $25 million smaller than the current year budget.    The district is tightening its belt, including laying off between 90 and 100 employees.

Yvonne Caamal Canul is Lansing’s school superintendent. She describes the budget plan as setting a baseline for the district, one the district can grow from in the future.

Right now, it’s about preparing for this fall. 

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Politics & Culture
4:54 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Stateside for Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

It took an intense campaign in Michigan in 2008 to get voters to approve proposal 2, allowing embryonic stem-cell research.

On today's show we talk to a neurologist leading the nation’s first clinical trial of stem cell injections in patients with the deadly degenerative disease ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

And, there is no shortage of articles, quotes, and news stories telling us what politicians, business titans and other leaders think of Michigan and its future.

But what about what tomorrow’s leaders think?

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Stateside
4:44 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

New unified school district superintendent in Ypsilanti speaks

Scott Menzel
annarbor.com

An interview with Scott Menzel, superintendent of the new unified district Ypsilanti Community Schools.

The litany of school districts in serious money trouble is long and growing longer: Buena Vista, Benton Harbor, Detroit, Pontiac, Albion.

Now we hear that Hazel Park schools are broke, according to the Superintendent, who blames an "unexpected drop" in student enrollment.

Close to fifty public school districts across our state are facing deep deficits. Buena Vista actually closed down for two weeks while scrambling to find enough money to keep things running.

Other districts have implemented layoffs and program cuts.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. And some say Michigan has too many school districts, and that consolidating some of these districts is a prudent choice.

Last year, the state encouraged Ypsilanti and nearby Willow Run schools to consolidate.

After tough decisions regarding layoffs, staff restructuring and closing buildings, the consolidation will happen July 1.

Scott Menzel is the superintendent of the Washtenaw Intermediate School District and, come July 1, he will be the superintendent of the new unified district: Ypsilanti Community Schools.

He joined us today in the studio.

Listen to the full interview above.

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.

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Education
3:34 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

Former charter school director gets probation for lying about student enrollment

A charter school in Muskegon County will have to repay the state close to $30,000 that, technically, the school shouldn’t have gotten in the first place.

The more students a school has the more money it receives from the state.

Barbara Stellard, who directed Waypoint Academy from 2002 to 2010, was charged in October with multiple criminal charges for reporting more students than actually attended the charter school.

Michigan Attorney General’s office spokeswoman Joy Yearout says another employee at Waypoint told tipped the state off to the scam.

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Education
12:50 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

Grand Rapids schools sends out first round of pink slips in “transformation plan”

The Grand Rapids school board voted to send out the notices Monday night.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

About 200 administrators at Grand Rapids Public Schools are getting notice that they could potentially be laid off this summer. The school board voted Monday night to send out the notices, as part of a “transformation plan” it adopted in December.

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Education
4:15 pm
Mon January 7, 2013

Private donors pay for new public school building at Grand Rapids nature preserve

6th graders at Blandford School wait patiently for school leaders to hold a ribbon cutting ceremony Monday morning.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Walk up to the new school inside the Blandford Nature Center and a flock of brown hens will quietly greet you. The hens are part of a business lesson about entrepreneurs at the Blandford School.

On Monday students and staff gathered to open the new school building paid for through mostly private funds.

Jennifer Brandstatter wipes tears from her cheek during the celebration. She moved her oldest of two daughters from a Catholic school to attend  6th grade at Blandford and she “loves it”.

“I just, I cry when I think about it. It’ just she’s having the best time of her life. The teachers are amazing. I mean it’s just such a unique experience,” Brandstatter explained.

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Education
12:09 am
Fri November 2, 2012

Grand Rapids students and neighbors push back on new “transformation plan” for schools

2012 Creston grad Angelique Long, Senior Saryane Ward, and Freshman Toni Cortazar (left to right) speak out against closing Creston High School Thursday night.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

On Thursday night hundreds of parents and students got their first chance to respond to a "transformation plan" for the Grand Rapids Public School district. The plan unveiled Monday includes closing ten schools.

There was a lot of push back, even tears at times in the auditorium at Creston High School; the only high school slated to be shut down.

“Honestly, it feels like the board is giving up on us,” Creston High School freshman Toni Cortazar said.

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Education
2:24 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

Superintendent: School funding reform should include early childhood, college

Mike Flanagan
Mike Flanagan Twitter.com

The state’s education chief says money for early childhood education and community colleges needs to be part of fixing Michigan’s school funding system. Mike Flanagan is the Michigan Superintendent of Public Instruction and leads the state Department of Education.

He spoke today at the first public hearing held by Governor Rick Snyder’s workgroup that’s devising a school funding proposal. The governor wants a system that rewards proficiency.
    
Flanagan says that won’t happen if the state doesn’t find a way to offer universal early childhood learning.

"We spend a billion dollars per grade and we spend nothing on early childhood, and we wonder why the results are exactly the same, and we blame the teachers, we blame the state superintendent, we blame the parent for not reading to them enough, and the bottom line is, we should blame the system first and foremost," he said.

Flanagan says every student should also be guaranteed a year or two of community college or its equivalent.  
    
The school funding workgroup will spend the summer working on its recommendations.

Education
4:19 pm
Mon July 16, 2012

School funding overhaul could be on the way

Richard D. McLellan
Richard D. McLellan Wikimedia Commons

An overhaul of how Michigan pays for public schools could be on the way. Gov. Rick Snyder wants that to be a big part of his budget proposal in early 2013.  The governor has named Lansing attorney Richard McLellan to lead the process.
    
McLellan says the state’s funding system is overdue for a shakeup.

“This is a 1979 law. It’s quite out of date," he said. "It’s a school district-centric model that doesn’t necessarily provide the flexibility for parents and for students that people are now demanding."

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Politics
8:38 am
Tue May 8, 2012

In this morning's news...

Romney in Michigan today

Mitt Romney is making his first visit to Michigan today since he narrowly won the Republican Presidential primary here last February. He's going to deliver a policy address at Lansing Community College. More from the Michigan Public Radio Network's Rick Pluta:

Romney’s expected to focus on the economy in his speech, and suggest President Obama’s policies have slowed the pace of the nation’s, and Michigan’s, economic recovery.

The appearance certainly suggests the Romney campaign considers Michigan an attainable prize. Michigan has not gone for the Republican presidential nominee since 1988.

Yesterday, Romney gave a speech in Ohio in which he took credit for the revival of the auto industry.

Rethinking Detroit's neighborhoods

The Detroit Works project is the name of Mayor Bing's revitalization plan. The Detroit Free Press reports the team is getting closer to putting forward a set of recommendations for the city. The recommendations could include urban farms, gardens, and reforestation in parts of a city with a little more than 20 square miles of vacant land:

The team is expected to produce a final report by late summer, offering options for residents and civic leaders to consider rather than strict recommendations about what should happen where.

"There is room for a broad spectrum of interventions to be played out," said Toni Griffin, a City College of New York professor of urban planning who co-chairs the Detroit Works technical team developing the list of options.

Karla Henderson, Bing's group executive for planning and facilities, said the mayor and his aides are looking forward to receiving the report from the planning team.

Michigan voters head to the polls today

Voters will head to the polls today to decide a variety of issues for their communities. Many communities will decide whether or not to tax themselves more to pay for school improvements, or, as Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reported, to help pay for a "sludge dryer":

Not everything on the ballots involves schools. The issue in Delhi Township, near Lansing, is sludge. Or more accurately, what to do with it. The township is asking voters to approve a surcharge on their water bills to pay for a sludge dryer.   Supporters say the dryer would turn human waste into bio-fuel. Opponents say it’s just a waste of money.

Education
1:30 am
Thu March 8, 2012

Parents question lawmakers on cyber and charter schools, funding changes

Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Five state lawmakers took tough questions from parents in East Grand Rapids Wednesday night. The legislative committee of the schools' PTA hosted the lawmakers; four republicans and one democrat. Hot issues included a proposed bill on cyber schools and the governor’s proposed k-12 budget for next school year.

Cyber charter schools

Last year Michigan lifted the cap on how many charter schools public universities can run. Now, there’s a bill proposed that would allow more cyber charter schools to operate.

Many parents asked the lawmakers why cyber schools get the same amount of state money per child as brick and morter ones. State Representative Peter MacGregor (R-Rockford) said cyber schools shouldn’t get as much, saying the savings should be passed on to the taxpayers. Cyber charters can be run by national for-profit companies.

Tina Murua has two kids enrolled in East Grand Rapids schools. “I fear that they’ve couched the whole thing in terms of parental choice because…who can argue with that? It’s a brilliant strategy but it was a false choice,” Murua said. She worries companies are pushing states to allow more cyber schools just to make money.  

The state senate already approved the cyber charter school bill. It passed the State House Education Committee in late February.

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Education
6:00 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Collaboration calling on lawmakers for more education dollars

A statewide group launched a campaign Thursday demanding state lawmakers invest more money in public education.

Victoria Kovari is the lead organizer at the Michigan Organizing Collaborative. It’s a network of faith-based, community and labor leaders. Kovari says they want lawmakers to significantly reverse the trend of education cuts in Michigan over the past decade.

“This is a statewide problem. It affects rich and poor districts, city and suburban and rural districts all across the state. And it affects the lives of real people; young people and parents and teachers,” Kovari said.

The collaborative is asking people to sign an online petition to lawmakers. She hopes the request will make a difference as lawmakers craft the state budget over the next few months.

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Education
5:33 pm
Mon January 30, 2012

Michigan schools may offer more full day kindergarten this fall

user kakisky morgueFile

Full day kindergarten may be in store for more Michigan children, due to changes in the school aid budget.

Schools currently get the same amount of per pupil funding whether they offer half day kindergarten or full day kindergarten. But starting this fall, schools that offer half day kindergarten will see their per pupil funding for those students cut in half.

The state legislature approved the school budget funding change last year.

Here are several different school districts' takes on the changes:

One size does not fit all

Livingston County's Brighton Public Schools currently get the full $7,000 per pupil for half day kindergarten students. They’ll get $3,500 for half day kindergarten students beginning with the 2012 school year.

Greg Gary is superintendent for Brighton area schools. He says the drop in funding is going to hurt his budget, but he refuses to cut half day kindergarten from the schedule:

"Not every kid is going to excel in a full day program. I have two children, and I would have put one in full day kindergarten, and one in half day kindergarten, because kids are different."

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Education
1:55 pm
Fri December 2, 2011

Southwest Michigan school district lays off all teachers; most support staff

Galien closed its elementary building in 2004. The school district hopes to sell it for $290,000 to help pay off debt.
Galien Township Schools

This week a small school district in southwest Michigan laid off all but four employees because of major budget problems. 122 students at Galien Township Schools will have to enroll at new schools next semester. Included in the layoffs were 10 teachers, 10 support staff, 4 bus drivers, and 2 kitchen workers. The only ones who remain are the superintendent, the business manager, a secretary and a custodian.

The Galien district consists mostly of farmland 3 miles away from the Michigan-Indiana border in Berrien County. The number of students there has gone down for several years. The school board closed the high school in 2004. Those students transferred to other districts. In January, kindergarteners through eighth graders will do the same.

“I’m sad for this community,” Superintendet Tim Allard said, “I’m sad for these employees who have been here so much longer than I have." Allard just came on as the district’s superintendent in September. 

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Education
6:01 pm
Mon September 19, 2011

Campaign to pass school millage in Grand Rapids kicks off today

Grand Rapids School board trustee Jon O'Conor (left) and resident Michael Tuffelmire talk about the campaign following a press conference this afternoon.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

A group of parents and school leaders in Grand Rapids is kicking off a campaign to pass a property tax increase to pay for improvements at more than 30 school buildings.

The proposed increase would cost an owner of a home worth $100,000, $54.20 a year. It would pay to replace worn-out roofs, heating systems, and windows. It would also pay to get rid of asbestos and replace old fire alarms.

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Education
2:16 pm
Mon June 27, 2011

Democrats calling on Snyder to send more money to K-12 schools

State Representative Roy Schmidt (D-Grand Rapids) joins parents, teachers, and school board members Monday. Other democrats held similar news conferences across Michigan today.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Kids still enjoy the playground at Stocking Elementary School. The school in Grand Rapids was closed last year to save money. State Representative Roy Schmidt used the shuttered school as a backdrop while telling people Michigan’s fund for K-through-12 schools had a surplus this year.

“We had the money, it just got switched somewhere else.”

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