University of Detroit Jesuit, Detroit, Michigan
Orchard Lake St. Mary's Preparatory, Orchard Lake, Michigan
Novi Detroit Catholic Central, Novi, Michigan
Brother Rice High School, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
Birmingham Public Schools, Birmingham, Michigan
Westwood Community School District, Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Inkster, Michigan
The Roeper School, Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
Cranbrook Schools, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
Marian High School, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
Academy of the Sacred Heart, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
Mercy High School, Farmington Hills, Michigan
Notre Dame Preparatory, Pontiac, Michigan
Regina High School, Warren, Michigan
Lincoln Consolidated Schools, Ypsilanti, Michigan
Grosse Pointe Public School System, Grosse Pointe, Michigan
Oakland Accelerated College Experience, Oakland County, Michigan
Oakland Opportunity Academy, Oakland County, Michigan
Oakland Schools Technical Campuses, Oakland County, Michigan
Virtual Learning Academy Consortium, Michigan
Bloomfield Hills Schools, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Comprehensive education at its finest.
Everest Collegiate High School and Academy. Clarkston, Michigan. An Authentic Catholic School of Distinction.
Oakland Christian School, Auburn Hills, Michigan. Oakland Christian School engages students in a rigorous and relevant education
Greenhills School, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Academic foundation for success.
Utica Community Schools, Image the Potential.
Lake Orion Community Schools, Lake Orion, Michigan. Providing an exemplary education for all learners
Shrine Catholic Schools, Royal Oak, Michigan. Faith. Family. Future.
Berkley School District, Berkley, Huntington Woods, Oak Park, Michigan. Engage. Inspire. Achieve.
AIM High School, Farmington Hills, Michigan. Aim High is a 6th-12th grade, tuition-based private school that provides an educational alternative
Parkway Christian School, Sterling Heights, Michigan. Challenging Minds. Capturing Hearts. Cultivating Gifts.
Franklin Road Christian School, Novi, Michigan. a K-12, coeducational, college-preparatory school with a nondenominational Christian philosophy.
Southfield Christian, Southfield, Michigan. Pursuing Excellence for the Glory of God.
Plymouth Christian, Canton, Michigan. A non-denominational, college preparatory Christian school

Michigan's reading, math scores flat on national assessment

Michigan's scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, given to a sample of fourth- and eighth-graders nationwide in math and reading, were largely flat in 2017, according to new data released Tuesday. About a third of the state's students were proficient in fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade math. Scores were also largely flat in Detroit, which ranked dead last among 27 large districts that received their own scores on the assessment. With the exception of fourth-grade math, which declined by 5 points, the results in Michigan's largest school district were mostly unchanged from 2015, the last time students took the assessment. (MLive)

Related stories:

> Chalkbeat: On nation’s report card, Michigan students remain in back of class

> Bridge: On nation’s report card, Michigan students remain in back of class

> Bridge: How Michigan schools are suffering, shown in 10 slides

 

Michigan lacks much-needed mental-health support for K-12 students

GRANDVILLE, MI - In a dimly lit classroom, seven kids struggling with mental-health conditions sit in a circle on the carpet. The discussion among the students inside the Grandville elementary classroom is focused on coping with feeling overwhelmed. "I went outside because I wasn't feeling good because of my anxiety and took my blanket,'' a fidgeting fifth-grade girl, struggling with social anxiety disorder and depression, told her classmates. "I watched the clouds and looked for shapes in them. It made me feel better.” (MLive)

Related story:

> MLive: 10 warning signs your child needs mental help

 

Michigan’s top court hearing cases over guns, schools

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – A gun openly carried by a spectator at a school concert in 2015 has turned into a major legal case as the Michigan Supreme Court considers whether the state’s public schools can trump the Legislature and adopt their own restrictions on firearms. The case from Ann Arbor has been on the court’s docket for more than a year. But arguments set for Wednesday are getting extra attention in the wake of a Florida school shooting in February that killed 17. There’s no dispute that Michigan law bars people from possessing a gun inside a weapon-free school zone. But there’s a wrinkle: Someone with a concealed pistol permit can enter school property with a gun that’s openly holstered. (Battle Creek Enquirer)

 

See the 60 Michigan high schools that produce the most college graduates

International Academy, an Oakland County magnet program with an Internationale Baccalaureate curriculum, is the Michigan public high school that produces the most college graduates, based on MLive's analysis of state data. Collectively, about 76% of International Academy graduates in the Classes of 2009, 2010 and 2011 had at least a bachelor's degree by summer 2017. It goes up to 77% when including those with an associate's degree or who completed a post-secondary certificate program, according to data from the state's Center for Educational Performance and Information. (MLive)

 

Flint students to be assessed for lead impact

Attorneys for Flint’s schoolchildren reached a historic agreement with state, county and Flint education officials to establish a program to provide universal screenings for learning disabilities to all Flint children impacted by the city’s water crisis. A proposed settlement agreement between the Michigan Department of Education, Flint Community Schools and the Genesee Intermediate School District was reached on Monday and is expected to be filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit. It calls for the state of Michigan to pay $4 million to create a program that will: Identify all Flint schoolchildren — from birth through age 25 — and place them on the existing Flint Health Registry for universal health screenings. Michigan special education services extend to that age group. (Detroit News)

 

10 things families should know about applying for Schools of Choice

In Michigan, students can attend a school district outside of their home district to pursue other opportunities through Schools of Choice. The vast majority of Kent County students attend their neighborhood schools. During the 2017-18 school year, 2,278 kids crossed district lines for various reasons, including to attend theme schools.  Applications can be submitted to the Kent ISD for school of choice from April 9 through May 11 at 4 p.m. All 20 school districts are participating. In 2016-17, about 69 percent Michigan students were enrolled in their home district and 12 percent crossed district lines to enroll in another district through Schools of Choice or another program. (MLive)

 

Another school study for the dustbin?

Opinion: At a wonderful seminar recently called Solutions Summit: an Educated Michigan, the brand new report from Business Leaders for Michigan covering recommendations to fix our broken K-12 system was highlighted. There was a great cast of presenters. A real bonus was the inclusion of leaders from Massachusetts and Tennessee, both of whom are kicking our butt in education. First, there is proof Michigan is a bottom-10 state in K-12 education. Second, providing a good education to all our kids should be the most important task for our state, even over roads. Third, we know what to do. Finally, we choose not to do it. (Detroit News)

 

Model program offers second chance

Opinion: Michael Minton, 20, can boast a turnaround story that took him from high school dropout to gainful employment, and he’s a prime example of the 54 young adults who have found success in a model program in Muskegon. “I had no plan for my future, and now I have a diploma and a job I really like,” Minton says. Linked Muskegon made the difference for Minton, who enrolled in the free, 18-week, adult education and training program that helps employers fill entry level positions with qualified workers in welding, machining and health. (Detroit News)

 

Results of Michigan's new school rating system released

On a scale of 0-100, where does your child's school rank? You can find out on state's news school index system, which has been rolled out for the first time by the Michigan Department of Education and is being used to determine which schools must improve moving forward or face consequences. The system provides a rating for nearly all Michigan public schools based upon performance in up to six categories. They include student growth and proficiency, graduation rates, progress of students with a limited grasp of English, school quality and student success - a category that can include everything from chronic absenteeism to student access to arts and physical education - and assessment participation. (MLive)

Related stories:

> Detroit Free Press: Is your school among the top-rated in Michigan? The state has a new way to gauge quality

 

State pursuing 'partnership agreements' with 24 low-performing schools

The Michigan Department of Education is seeking to enter into partnership agreements with a host of low-performing schools across the state with the goal of boosting academic performance, officials announced Friday morning. That includes 16 charter schools -- half of which are in Detroit -- and eight schools from five traditional, public school districts. Those districts are: Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Ecorse, Flint and Baldwin. In addition, two districts already operating under partnership agreements with MDE will add additional schools to their agreements. Detroit Public Schools Community District will add 15 schools to its agreement, and River Rouge School District will add one school to its agreement. (MLive)

Related stories:

> MLive: Low-performing Grand Rapids schools offered state partnership

> Chalkbeat: Three more Detroit schools added to state’s partnership agreement list

> Detroit Free Press: More Michigan schools are failing: Most are charters

 

SmartZone Authority approves Grand Rapids schools tech initiative

GRAND RAPIDS, MI - The city's SmartZone Local Development Finance Authority has approved a new initiative that would fund a state-of-the-art engineering lab at Grand Rapids' Innovation Central High School. Officials say the lab will enhance the skills of the around 160 students served by the Academy of Modern Engineering annually and help close the talent gap for in-demand, high-technology, skilled jobs. The authority still has to complete a contract with Grand Rapids Public Schools to secure the $384,306 for the three-year project called the "Innovation Central Advanced Technology Educational Initiative. (MLive)

 

In Betsy DeVos’ home state, a program that steers public dollars to private school students is under fire from the governor

Roughly once a week for much of the school year, 14 children have been gathering at the Spring Creek Equestrian Center in the western Michigan town of Three Oaks to learn about caring for horses. “They clean the stalls, groom them, feed them … they learn the mechanics of the horse, how you care for them,” said stable owner Alison Grosse. “It’s not just a fun activity. It’s a whole experience.” And the best part? Aside from a $40 riding fee that families contribute, the program is completely free for participants, paid by the state of Michigan through a program called “shared time” that allows private school and homeschool students to take free classes through their local school district. (Chalkbeat)

 

These kids have been accused of Michigan school threats

More than 100 false threats have been made to schools across southeast Michigan since the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., authorities said Tuesday. State and federal law officials says they're going to be aggressive about prosecuting anyone who falsely threatens schools. While many of the cases involve minors, those convicted still could face harsh consequences — fines, prison or both. (Detroit Free Press)

 

Majority of Muskegon area schools plan deficit spending for 2017-18

MUSKEGON COUNTY, MI - From declining student counts to increased maintenance costs, the reasons for deficits at nine school districts in Muskegon County run the gamut. Nine of 12 districts within the Muskegon Area Intermediate School district adopted budgets amendments between December 2017 and March 2018 with projected deficit spending. Three districts are planning surpluses. Deficit spending comes out of the districts' fund balance accounts, and any surpluses are added to those accounts. (MLive)

 

Hudsonville School Board appoints next superintendent

HUDSONVILLE, MI - The Hudsonville School Board named Rockford Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Douglas VanderJagt as its next superintendent, officials announced Tuesday, March 27. "We are excited to have Dr. VanderJagt lead our students, staff, and community in its tradition of educational excellence,'' said school board president Ken Hall, about the fast growing 6,733-student district. Effective July 1, VanderJagt will replace Superintendent Nicholas Ceglarek, who announced in November he was leaving after eight years to become superintendent of the Traverse Bay Intermediate School District. (MLive)

 

Hundreds of Michigan schools don’t have a gym teacher. Does yours?

For tens of thousands of Michigan school children, regular gym class is something they know exists, but haven’t experienced themselves. Across the state about 500 schools — roughly 1 in 5 — do not have certified gym teachers. It’s a severe problem in Detroit where almost half the schools are without gym teachers, but the issue is not limited to the city or to traditional school districts. An analysis from Chalkbeat, a Bridge Magazine reporting partner, compared data on physical education teachers to other state data. The records show that gym teachers are missing from suburban, rural, and urban districts as well as from charter schools. (Bridge)

 

Is Michigan business leaders' small step toward education reform enough?

Opinion: We never learn. Just as many people immediately pointed to southeast Michigan’s lack of a mass transit system as the main reason Amazon chose elsewhere to build a second headquarters, a new business report on the state of the state’s schools still refused to recognize what really ails our schools: Many business leaders refuse to invest where the state won't - in the education of poor children. Not just black children, but all children of all races whose families cannot supplement their educations the way wealthier parents can. Everyone calls for more investment, but not enough actually invest. And we keep claiming that we have an equal education system. (Detroit Free Press)

 

How can Michigan schools stop skinned knees and conflict? Use playtime to teach students kindness

Kindergartners play four square, jump rope and line up in two rows with outstretched arms to bump a ball during recess. What’s unusual is that the four- and five-year-olds don’t fight over balls or toys, and when one child gets upset and crosses her arms, a fifth-grade helper comes over to talk to her. This is a different picture from last spring, when the students at the Macomb Montessori school in Warren played during recess on a parking lot outside. The skinned knees and broken equipment were piling up, and school administrators knew something needed to change. “Recess was pretty chaotic, and it wasn’t very safe,” Principal Ashley Ogonowski said. (Chalkbeat)

 

Getting past politics to give Michigan the schools it deserves

It’s no secret that when it comes to education achievement, Michigan students of all races and income levels are near the bottom of the pack, when compared with their peers in other states. Of equal concern, there appears to be no sense of urgency in Lansing to help solve the problem. Prioritizing real education reform is the first, critical step to solving Michigan’s education crisis, experts from leading education states told a crowd gathered for a solution-based summit on education in Detroit on Thursday. (Bridge)

 

Michigan teacher's union loses appeal on case involving when members can quit

A Michigan Supreme Court decision Friday closes out a case that challenged the Michigan Education Association's decades-long practice of only allowing members to withdraw from the union during the month of August. The state high court denied a request for appeals of lower court rulings that said the union — which represents about 130,000 teachers and other school employees — was violating right-to-work rules enacted in 2012. Those rules make it illegal to require dues payment to a union as a condition of employment. (Detroit Free Press)

 

Snyder seeks AG opinion on 529 plans for private K-12

Gov. Rick Snyder is seeking an opinion from the Attorney General Bill Schuette on whether the recent federal expansion of tax savings to help pay for K-12 private school expenses would violate the state constitution if put to use in Michigan. The congressional overhaul of the tax code allows parents to use tax-deductible savings plans to help cover tuition not only at colleges and universities, but now also at public, private and religious elementary and high schools. The savings plans are often called 529 plans, after Section 529 of the federal Internal Revenue Code that authorized them. (Detroit News)

 

5 ways Gov. Rick Snyder wants Michigan to change its thinking about education

Michigan's shortage of employees to fill thousands of open, high-paying jobs "is the single greatest threat to the state's continued economic recovery," according to officials in Gov. Rick Snyder's administration. Solving that, Snyder says, now is among his top goals as he winds down his 8th year in leading the state. He's now urging officials across education and employment systems to consider how his new Marshall Plan will offer a blueprint for coordinating and expanding existing programs through 2024. "We need to reinvent our talent system," Snyder said in an interview with MLive.com. "... The challenge is that large." (MLive)

 

Michigan's 58 high schools with 1,500 students or more in fall 2017

There are  58 public high schools in Michigan with at least 1,500 students. Thirty-seven of the schools are in metro Detroit: 14 in Oakland County, 13 in Wayne County and  10 in Macomb. The list also includes schools in Washtenaw, Livingston, Genesee, Kalamazoo, Saginaw, Ingham, Eaton and  Grand Traverse counties. The entire list is below, and is drawn from state enrollment data for fall 2017. (MLive)

 

Michigan business leaders unveil plan for improving K-12 education

To improve Michigan's lagging educational outcomes, policy makers must commit to maintaining an assessment tied to high student standards, improve teacher professional development and ensure that schools spend their money effectively. Those are among a host of recommendations laid out in a new report released today by Business Leaders for Michigan that details the challenges facing Michigan's K-12 schools and offers strategies to drive improvement. Key to turning those strategies into real, sustained action: Showing parents that students of all demographic groups across Michigan - and not just a few urban communities like Detroit - are struggling when compared to their peers in top-performing states like Massachusetts and Tennessee. (MLive)

Related stories:

> Detroit Free Press: What's causing Michigan academic crisis? 4 myths, how to move forward

> Detroit News: Business leaders urge changes to K-12 education

 

National School Walkout: Michigan students rally to end gun violence

Freshman Allison Weiner asked her classmates to close their eyes. Envision their three closest friends. Envision their closest family members. Then imagine gunshots being fired at them. “This could be us,” she said. That’s how the National School Walkout — a nationwide event protesting gun violence and marking the one-month anniversary of the Florida school shooting that left 17 students and adults dead — launched at  North Farmington High School Wednesday morning. About 80% of the school’s 1,278 students filed into a school gym after walking out of their classes. “We’re here to ensure this doesn’t ever happen again … We demand action now,” Weiner said. (Detroit Free Press)

Related stories:

> MLive: Walkouts expected at dozens of Michigan schools in protest of gun violence

> MLive: Flint-area districts holding events to honor Florida school shooting victims

> MLive: Muskegon-area students to participate in National Student Walkout

> Detroit Free Press: Stop attacking students waging war against guns

> Lansing State Journal: Lansing-area students walk out to protest gun violence, honor Parkland shooting victims

> Port Huron Times Herald: Student-led walkouts to honor shooting victims today

> Detroit News: Mich. students protest gun deaths: ‘I can change this’

 

Wyoming Public Schools superintendent retiring

WYOMING, MI - Wyoming Public Schools Superintendent Thomas Reeder is retiring at the end of this school year, officials announced Tuesday, March 13. Reeder, who has been at the helm for seven seven years, has been with the district of 4,300-students for 27 years. He began his career as a math specialist and coach in 1991 and steadily moved through the ranks. "I have been extremely fortunate to work with staff who not only shared in an endless list of joys and proud moments, but worked tirelessly to make a difference in the Wyoming community,'' said Reeder, in a press release. (MLive)

 

East Grand Rapids Public Schools superintendent retiring after 12 years

EAST GRAND RAPIDS, MI - After 12 years at the helm, East Grand Rapids Public Schools Superintendent Sara Shubel is retiring at the end of this school year. Shubel said she's had the professional and personal privilege of serving the district of 2,910 students, giving her full dedication to their students, educators, staff, families, community, and the 20 board members she's been privileged to work with during her tenure. "I am confident that East Grand Rapids Public Schools will remain rich in traditions while continuing to focus on the future,'' said Shubel, in a press release following the Monday, March 12, school board meeting. (MLive)

 

Teacher awarded $388,000 in 'whistleblower' lawsuit against Jackson schools

JACKSON, MI - A longtime teacher has won a lawsuit saying Jackson Public Schools retaliated against her when she talked to police instead of letting school officials handle her claims she was allegedly assaulted in a classroom. After more than a week of trial proceedings before Circuit Judge John McBain, a jury on March 7, awarded Pennie Davis $388,485 in damages from her employer, Jackson Public Schools. The school district has 30 days to file an appeal. "Filing a lawsuit was an act of last resort," Davis's attorney Megan Bonanni said. "What the school was doing to her was wrong and the jury agreed they were wrong." (MLive)

 

Study: Michigan reading scores ‘going in the wrong direction’ despite major state investment in helping young children read

An alarming new report comparing Michigan students to their peers across the country found that not only are Michigan students lagging behind, they’re quickly losing ground. The report from the non-partisan research and advocacy organization, Education Trust-Midwest, takes advantage of the fact that, for the last three years, Michigan students have been taking a state exam, the M-STEP, that’s easily comparable to the exams given in 12 other states. (Chalkbeat)

Related stories:

> Bridge: Michigan spent $80 million to improve early reading. Scores went down.

> Detroit Free Press: 3rd grade reading: Michigan students show biggest decline, report shows

> Detroit News: Mich. dip in 3rd-grade reading worst of 11 states

 

Special ed parents, teachers lobby Grand Rapids schools for change

GRAND RAPIDS, MI - The Grand Rapids school board got an earful Monday, March 5, from special education parents and teachers complaining about inadequate support and services and critical of program director Laura LaMore's leadership. Laura Fagairo told the school board Monday that her fourth-grader, who attends C.A. Frost Environmental Science Academy, is dyslexic and has attention deficit disorder. Since 2016, she said she's been fighting to get her daughter an Individualized Education Program (IEP) to obtain services by law that can help her academically. "Those of us who are speaking out aren't outliers or disgruntled complainers,'' said Fagairo, who said LaMore and other GRPS managers are skirting and possibly breaking state federal education laws for what they do and what they fail to do. (MLive)

 

Fruitport High School $48.7M construction to begin this month

FRUITPORT, MI - The first construction trailers arrived at Fruitport High School this week to prepare for a three-year project. About $48.7 million is dedicated to construction that will replace the 1950s portion of the high school - about 75-80 percent of the current structure. The Fruitport Community Schools Board of Education recently approved contractor bids that keep within that budget, said Superintendent Bob Szymoniak. Most of the contractors are from West Michigan. Funds come from a voter-approved up to 30-year, 3.9 mill bond issue from 2016. It will generate about $50.6 million for high school construction and minor improvements at other buildings.  (MLive)

 

AG: School tips into hotline top record in Feb.

A state student safety program fielded a record number of tips in February, including more than 100 related to school threats, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office announced Wednesday. OK2SAY, which launched in 2014 as a warning system for schools statewide, received 670 reports last month, topping the previous record 560 set in October, Schuette’s office said in a statement. “I worked to create OK2SAY so students have a way to report something wrong at school without fearing that others will retaliate. The OK2SAY app is where students are, on their phones and tablets,” Schuette said. (Detroit News)

 

Grand Rapids schools calls National School Walkout 'teachable moment'

GRAND RAPIDS, MI - Grand Rapids Public Schools informed parents Monday, March 5, how it will handle next week's National School Walkout in honor of the 17 victims of the February mass shooting in Parkland, Fla. At 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 14, students nationwide are planning to walk outside for 17 minutes - one for each victim - at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. On Feb. 14, a former student allegedly gunned down students and staff. In a letter, Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal said they are using the event as a teachable moment focused on school safety and the district's' "See It, Say It, Do Something About It-Stop School Violence'' theme. (MLive)

 

Five vying to become superintendent of Hudsonville Public Schools

HUDSONVILLE, MI - Next week, the Hudsonville School Board plans to interview five candidates, over two days, that could succeed Nicholas Ceglarek as superintendent. Ceglarek, who has been at the helm for eight years, informed district families in November that he would be departing at the end of the school year to become superintendent of the Traverse Bay Intermediate School District. The school board expects a new superintendent to begin July 1. The candidates will be interviewed on Monday, March 5 and Tuesday, March 6. The board will decide on finalists at the end of interviews Tuesday. A second-round of interviews will take place on March 12 and/or March 13. (MLive)

 

A-F school letter grades bill passes House committee with only GOP support, goes to full House

A revised version of a controversial bill that would give every school in the state an A-F report card advanced Thursday in the state House. The bill passed 10-3 along party lines, with two Democratic members choosing not to approve or reject the bill. If the bill is approved in the majority-GOP House, it will go to the Senate. If turned into law, the letter grades could become effective at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year. (Chalkbeat)

 

Scores in one West Michigan school district typify state’s malaise

Allegan Public Schools, near Holland, has had to make some difficult choices as it works to improve student growth in the district. The telephone call begins defensively.Allegan Public Schools Superintendent Kevin Harness is in a bit of a hot seat. The rural west Michigan district was among the worst districts in the state in student academic growth in a recently-published study by Stanford University. Over five school years between third and eighth grade, Allegan students had made only 3.5 years of academic progress. In effect, they’d lost a year and a half of schooling compared to the average Michigan student. (Bridge)

 

Michigan schools suffer 'critical' bus driver shortage

Short hours, split shifts, loss of benefits. These are just some of the reasons school districts around Michigan are struggling to find bus drivers and keep them on staff, an issue that has been labeled a “critical shortage” by the Michigan Department of Education for the 2017-18 academic year. There’s no hard data, Scott Little of the Michigan School Business Officials said, but transportation directors report difficulty in finding permanent and substitute drivers, something the Lansing-based group's associate executive director described as a national issue. (Detroit Free Press)

 

Grand Rapids schools superintendent seeking feedback on listening tour

GRAND RAPIDS, MI - In December 2012, the Grand Rapids School Board approved a Transformation Plan from Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal to make bold changes that would result in significant impact. Five years ago, changes included the closure of 10 buildings to right-size and the elimination of programs deemed ineffective. New programs were created and those having some success enhanced to bolster student success. Neal is now seeking guidance on Phase 3 of her Transformation Plan. Beginning March 14, she is launching a listening tour to get input from district parents and students, prospective families, and the community at large. (MLive)

 

Michigan sees huge spike in reports of potential school attacks

A teenager warns his friends that he's about to commit a shooting rampage at Otsego High School. Milan Area Schools are evacuated after a bomb threat. A 17-year-old is arrested and an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle is confiscated after the teen threatens to shot up  Brethren High School in Manistee County. A dance at Carrollton Middle School near Saginaw ends with a lockdown, amid rumors that a student brought a gun to the event. In the two weeks since a Feb. 14 school shooting in Florida killed 17 students and adults, dozens of Michigan schools have experienced threats or gone into lockdown mode amid security concerns. (MLive)

Related story:

> Macomb Daily: Macomb County schools on edge with 13 threats since Florida shooting

 

Michigan teachers could carry guns in school under proposed bills

LANSING – Teachers could be armed with guns in schools under legislation being developed by two Republicans in the Michigan House of Representatives. The legislation is coming in the wake of yet another mass shooting, this time at a high school in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 people dead two weeks ago, sparking protests across the nation from students, teachers and parents who want more gun control. State Rep. Jim Runestad, R-White Lake, will schedule hearings this spring on a bill that he’s drafting that will allow school districts to provide access to guns in locked, undisclosed locations in school buildings to teachers who volunteer and who are trained in firearm use. (Detroit Free Press)

Related story:

> Detroit News: Detroit police chief: Some teachers should carry guns

 

Michigan's 4-year graduation rate hits 80% for first time

Michigan's Class of 2017 had a four-year high school graduation rate of 80.2 percent, the first time the state has hit the 80 percent benchmark, according to state data released today. The four-year graduation rate for 2015-16 was 79.7 percent. The percentage of public high schools graduating on time -- i.e., four years after they entered high school -- has been inching up since the state started closely tracking the numbers in 2006-07. That year, 75 percent of students graduated in four years. Michigan remains below the national average of 83 percent for four-year graduation rates. The five- and six-year graduation rates stayed relatively uncharged from 2015-16 at 83 and 84 percent, respectively. (MLive)

Related stories:

> MLive: 9 highlights from Michigan's 2017 high school graduation numbers

> Chalkbeat: Graduation rates in Michigan – and Detroit’s main district — are up, but are most students ready for college?

> Detroit Free Press: Michigan high school graduation rate on the rise: 80% of students graduated in 2017

 

Muskegon schools superintendent rated 'minimally effective'

MUSKEGON, MI - Muskegon Public Schools superintendent Justin Jennings has been rated "minimally effective" in a performance evaluation conducted over several months by the district's Board of Education. On a scale of one to four, with one being ranked "ineffective" and four ranked as "highly effective," Jennings received a "two" rating. Trustees cited low student test scores and "less than desirable" student achievement. The embattled superintendent has come under fire from teachers and at least two board members since an MLive investigation revealed recent raises of 5 percent to 20 percent for eight of the district's 34 administrators. (MLive)

 

Mich. students to join walkouts to protest gun violence

Michigan students are standing in solidarity with students across the nation as they prepare to walk out of class to protest gun violence and the shooting deaths of 17 people at a Florida high school. School walkouts are planned March 14, the one-month anniversary of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and April 20, the 19th anniversary of the shooting deaths of 13 people at Columbine High School in Colorado. Students and parents say they want lawmakers to act to stop school shootings and other gun violence. And it’s not just high school students who will be protesting. Isabella Cristini, 8, will be walking out of her Taylor elementary school on March 14 for 17 minutes — one minute for each person killed at Douglas High. (Detroit News)

Related stories:

> Battle Creek Enquirer: Harper Creek High School students protest gun violence

> Deadline Detroit: Mich. Student Says Fla. Survivors Aren't 'a Source of Wisdom on [Gun] Legislation'

 

Teen charged in threat against South Lyon high school

A Lyon Township teen has been charged with making a terrorist threat against South Lyon High School through social media this past weekend, officials said. Police also said they will beef up security at the high school when the district's students return from winter break. "South Lyon Police will continue frequent safety checks of schools within the city, on a daily basis," officials said in a statement. "Police presence will be enhanced at South Lyon High School on Wednesday when classes resume." (Detroit News)

Related story:

> Observer & Eccentric: Green Oak teen jailed, charged with felony in false threat to shoot up South Lyon High

 

School boosters cancel raffle that included AR-15 as prize in South Lyon

A "Wild Game" charity dinner to raise money for a high school football team in western Oakland County has been cancelled after community backlash over a raffle whose prizes included an AR-15 rifle — the same semi-automatic weapon that was used to kill 17 people at a Florida school this past week. "Due to the recent tragic events earlier this week, the South Lyon Football Booster Organization has decided to cancel their second annual Wild Game Dinner. The sensitivity of the issue coupled with the untimely tragedy has led to the decision," a statement posted on the team's website said.  The statement, written by the South Lyon Football Boosters, explained that the area has "an abundance of hunters and sportsmen," the event was attempting to take these interests into account. (Detroit Free Press)

Related stories:

> Deadline Detroit: Wrong Prize: Football Team Cancels Fundraiser with Raffle for AR-15 Rifle

> Detroit News: After Fla. school shooting, South Lyon boosters cancel AR-15 raffle

 

Michigan K12 boost contingent on cutting state aid in other areas

Gov. Rick Snyder's bid to boost base K-12 funding by the largest amount in years is contingent on Republican lawmakers agreeing to cut state aid in two areas they favor: cyber charter schools and the use of public funds to teach private or homeschool students. Spending on online charter schools and shared-time instruction has grown rapidly in recent years. Snyder said more than a quarter of the money —$93 million — should be reinvested in the per-student foundation grant that goes to all K-12 districts and charter schools statewide. Without the GOP-led Legislature backing the proposals, it will be difficult to raise per-pupil aid by between $120 and $240 — which would be the biggest hike to the minimum since the 2001-02 fiscal year, benefiting 84 percent of districts, including all traditional charters. (US News)

 

Republican state board member says A-F school letter grades would hurt poor students, but lawmakers aren’t convinced

A representative of the state board of education spoke strongly against a House bill to evaluate school performance with an A-F report card, but charter supporters argued it was the best way to hold schools accountable. In the second day of House testimony for the proposal, Tom McMillin, a Republican on the board who represents Oakland Township, strongly expressed his dismay. “I can tell you which ones will be tagged D and F,” he said, pointing to a graph of the poorest schools. “The ones down here.” (Chalkbeat)

 

After Amazon, Michigan needs more students educated beyond high school

Opinion: Michigan is at a crossroads, and Detroit’s failed Amazon bid should serve as a wake-up call. The message from Amazon to Michigan was clear — our state needs to prioritize talent. Even more sobering? Detroit and Grand Rapids didn’t even make the short list of 20 finalists for Amazon’s second headquarters. The need to increase postsecondary attainment in Michigan — meaning increasing the number of residents who hold degrees or certificates— has never been clearer. The Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) has been working to increase Michigan’s college readiness, participation and completion rates. (Bridge)

 

Students, parents: Racism prevalent at this Michigan school

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — It was standing room only at the Forest Hills school board meeting Monday night. Dozens of parents, students and others wanted to voice their concerns after they say a student portrayed blackface earlier this month at Forest Hills Northern High School. More than 200 people attended the meeting, including members of the NAACP. And for more than two hours, students, parents and community members shared their experiences at Forest Hills.  "When I first saw this blackface thing, I wasn't surprised," said one student. "It wasn't shocking and that should mean something that there is a problem at this school that needs to be fixed. The things I hear in the hallways I shouldn't be hearing--racial slurs. I hear people saying that segregation should still be a thing." (WZZM)

 

Gull Lake schools to ask voters for nearly $65 million over 30 years

Gull Lake Community Schools will ask voters for nearly $65 million over 30 years to upgrade facilities, add classrooms and build a new high school auditorium. Most of the construction would begin this year under a two-phase bond proposal up for a vote May 8. The second phase would begin in 2022. “Gull Lake Community Schools has reached a point in its history where upgrades to current facilities would be appropriate to bring our teaching and learning forward into the current century,” Superintendent Chris Rundle said Friday. “Requests such as continued support for technology, modernized classrooms and auditorium would help meet the needs of our students going forward.” (Battle Creek Enquirer)

 

Williamston residents must let go of fear and bias

Opinion: Parents suing Williamston Community Schools are using religion to justify the bullying of students who simply wish to fit in. The lawsuit alleges recent updates – to add sexual orientation and gender identity to anti-bullying and equal opportunity policies – show that school board members “seek to silence and punish Plaintiffs’ sincerely held religious beliefs.” This is public school. Students of all religions and all identities have the right to feel safe in schools. The beliefs of one student do not supersede those of another. (Lansing State Journal)

 

Getting kids to class may be harder than some lawmakers think. A new study casts doubt on how big a role educators can play.

Michigan and other states are focusing more on how often students are absent as a factor in determining a school’s performance. But a new study calls into question whether that’s a good idea. Two Wayne State University researchers, Sarah Lenhoff and Ben Pogodzinski, said in a report published last week, that when it comes to whether a child will get to class, some schools have more influence over attendance than others.   Among factors that can influence attendance are how much families trust their teachers, whether the kids feel safe, and response to the school’s discipline policy.  Michigan is one of 36 states that plan to use chronic absenteeism to measure school performance under the federal education law. But the Wayne State study indicates that it is unreliable to use attendance as an mark of quality to compare schools when the effect of these influences can vary so much. (Chalkbeat)

 

Michigan charter schools to share certain tax revenues

LANSING — Gov. Rick Snyder has signed into law a change allowing charter schools to receive revenue from certain voter-approved property tax hikes. The taxes go to counties’ traditional school districts on a per-student basis, on top of their state funding. The new law lets charters get a share of the extra local funding. Charters will only benefit when existing millages are renewed or new millages are approved. The biggest impact is in the Detroit and Grand Rapids areas. The legislation was backed by many Republicans but opposed by Democrats. (Monroe News)

 

Did Flint’s Water Crisis Damage Kids’ Brains?

Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley recently noticed a startling fact about kids in the lead-poisoned city of Flint, Michigan: They have become increasingly bad at reading since the water crisis began in 2014. A state government report showed that, from the year 2014 to the year 2017, third-grade reading proficiency in the city dropped from 41.8 percent to 10.7 percent. “That’s nearly a three-quarters drop in third-grade reading proficiency among children whose lives were affected by lead poisoned water during the Flint water crisis,” she wrote. Other factors were involved in this decline. The test changed to become more difficult in 2015, which led the third-grading reading proficiency statewide to fall from 70 to 44 percent. But Flint’s decline was much worse than the state’s average. (New Republic)

 

State education officials prepare 0 to 100 index to measure schools, slam push for A-F grades

State education officials are preparing to roll out a new tool for parents to quickly learn which schools are succeeding and which ones are struggling. They’re also lashing out at another school measurement approach that’s been proposed in the legislature. The dueling options are part of a national debate about the best way to measure schools. Michigan’s elected board of education last year scrapped plans to assign letter grades to every school in favor of providing parents with a dashboard of information about test scores, graduation rates, and other measures of success such as attendance rates and student discipline. (Chalkbeat)

 

Academic State Champs: Poverty doesn’t always predict school success in Michigan

Poor students often start third grade testing at first and second-grade levels, while those from wealthy districts are sometimes one or two grade levels ahead. By eighth grade, there is still typically a gap between rich and poor districts, but students at both learn at roughly the same pace. Researchers at Stanford University found they both progress about five grade levels in five years.

Across Michigan, school districts face daunting challenges, educating students from families with high poverty and few college degrees. Conventional wisdom says the schools fail. But groundbreaking new research challenges that belief, showing that –  in many cases –  students in poor districts can learn and progress at the same rate as peers in wealthy districts. (Bridge)

 

School leaders counting on students to be ‘present and accounted for’ on Count Day

Calling all students. Schools throughout the Downriver area and throughout the state are counting on students to be present and accounted for Wednesday. While it is important to be in school every school day, Feb. 14 is Count Day. The Michigan Department of Education uses the fall Count Day to determine 90 percent of a district’s per-pupil state aid, and the February count to determine 10 percent. The average per-pupil amount of state aid for each student in the Downriver area is about $7,000. (Southgate News Herald)

Related story:

> Detroit Free Press: Love in the air for crucial school count day

 

Will the new Michigan education funding study have a political path toward implementation or take a cruise to nowhere?

Three weeks after a new study recommended sweeping changes to Michigan’s school funding system, the question remains: Could it have an impact, or will it join previous funding studies on the shelf? Advocates who hoped that Gov. Rick Snyder would take up the cause in his last year in office now assume little will happen immediately. That’s because Snyder did not signal any interest in his State of the State and budget address in overhauling the way the state allocates funds to schools, even as he indicated he would support increasing per-pupil funding. (Chalkbeat)

 

How do schools make the decision to call off?

On Friday, every school district across the Monroe County Region closed. For some, the latest day off of school signaled the last calamity day districts have before needing to extend the school year. Districts also can appeal to the state in order to prevent extending the year. While snow days tend to be welcomed by staff and students alike, extending the school year isn’t always ideal either. Bedford Public Schools has had seven days canceled this school year because of weather. (Monroe Daily News)

 

Ann Arbor weighing in on guns-in-schools debate in Michigan

The city of Ann Arbor is formally weighing in on a legal case before the Michigan Supreme Court regarding whether school districts should be able to ban guns in schools. The City Council voted unanimously Monday night, Feb. 5, to authorize City Attorney Stephen Postema to file an amicus brief in the case of Michigan Gun Owners Inc. v. Ann Arbor Public Schools. The city is siding with the school district, which is defending policies it adopted in 2015 banning firearms on school property. (MLive)

 

Forest Hills students show solidarity and 'Black out against Blackface'

GRAND RAPIDS, MI - Forest Hill Northern High School students showed their solidarity Tuesday, Feb. 6, by participating in a "Black Out Against Blackface,'' after photos of a white student wearing brown facial makeup surfaced on social media. The photos of the upperclassman, posted Feb. 1, ignited a social media firestorm on Instagram and Facebook because blackface carries associations of racism and degradation. "We had a great response today,'' said Danielle McMillon, a senior who is black, estimating about half the student body responded to the call to wear black clothing Tuesday. (MLive)

 

Dorms for high school students: Muskegon school responding to students' needs

MUSKEGON, MICH. — For teens and young adults, homelessness often means sleeping on the couch at one temporary housing location then moving to another. That unstable living arrangement is often referred to as "couch surfing." It can result in students missing or skipping school. Eventually, some students find it's easier to just stop going to school. It's why Muskegon Covenant Academy High School now offers a place for students to call home. The need can be for a few short weeks, up to years. (Detroit Free Press)

 

Sweeping study proposes major changes to how Michigan schools are funded

Michigan needs to change the way it funds education so that schools get more money for students who need extra attention — such as those who live in poverty and those who don’t yet have a strong command of the English language. That’s the top recommendation from a prominent group of educators, policymakers, and business leaders who have studied Michigan’s school funding system for much of the past two years. While many states use a complex formula that gives schools more money if they serve children facing extra challenges, Michigan has long used a system that distributes the same amount of money for virtually all students, regardless of their needs. (Bridge)

 

Kent tech center awarded funds help prepare teens for skilled trades jobs

GRAND RAPIDS, MI - The Kent Intermediate School District is receiving $432,000 from the state to help enhance the skills of students in Career and Technical Education programs. The state has been on a mission to close the talent gap and change the perception some students and parents have about the professional trades. The goal is for more young people to pursue the in-demand, good-paying skilled trades jobs. Kent ISD is among 14 districts and intermediate districts, out 62 applicants, recently awarded a share of $5 million in grants to purchase specialized equipment and expand programs. (MLive)

 

Muskegon Public Schools closes all campuses due to illness

MUSKEGON, MI - Muskegon Public Schools is closed today, Feb. 5, due to illness. The district announced via Facebook on Saturday, Feb. 3, that all district buildings would be closed on Monday.  "MPS will be disinfecting campuses," the post said. All builds are expected to reopen on Tuesday, Feb. 6.  "School has never been closed for illness since I have been here," said Superintendent Justin Jennings. (MLive)

 

College programs on rise in Michigan high schools

Eden Jemison had a decision to make. Stay on the traditional four-year educational track at Romulus High School, where she was getting poor grades and feeling unfocused, or take a chance on her school’s early college program, which is designed to give students a high school diploma and an associate’s degree in five years. “I wanted better for myself because I had three Ds my freshman year. My parents were really upset with me. I realized I’m not going to be able to get accepted to any colleges if I don’t turn myself around,” said Jemison, 18.

 

Reforms going nowhere to require Michigan schools to test water for lead

Renea Robinson isn’t sure how her children got poisoned. Perhaps the paint in her Detroit house is to blame for elevated lead levels in the blood of three of her four children, ages 5, 6 and 8. Or the galvanized steel water pipes, which have since been replaced? Or what about the kids’ school? “I’ve been curious the whole time to figure out where my kids are getting it from,” said Robinson, 31. After the Flint water crisis, many schools in Michigan began testing their water for lead. And in 2016, Sampson-Webber Leadership Academy — the prekindergarten-8th grade school Robinson’s kids attend — was among 19 Detroit schools that had elevated levels of lead and/or copper after testing. (Bridge)

 

Investigation into teacher's Bible talk leads to Hudsonville schools changes

HUDSONVILLE, MI - Hudsonville Public Schools has changed how it educates and communicates the First Amendment to teachers and administrators. The change comes after a civil rights group complained a Hudsonville teacher's religious activities violated the U.S. Constitution.The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment prohibits government, including taxpayer-funded public schools, from establishing religion. Public schools cannot endorse or appear to be endorsing or sponsoring religious activities. (MLive)

 

Brighton Schools trains employees in Narcan use for opioid overdoses

Brighton Schools became the first public school district in the county to enact a policy to administer naloxone in the case of an opioid overdose last week. The school board, by a 6-0 vote, approved a policy which will put Narcan in both Brighton High School and The Bridge, the district’s alternative high school. There will be multiple employees trained in the use of the device which delivers a dose of naloxone to counteract an overdose of opioids, including heroin as well as numerous prescription painkillers. The move is a preventive measure, not a reaction to any drug overdoses on school property, said Superintendent Greg Gray. (Livingston County Daily Press & Argus)

 

Michigan's adult drop-outs offered new chance for diploma - and free job training

Jobs continue to go unfilled in Michigan, yet the state also is home to nearly 750,000 adults without a high school diploma. A new program seeks to bridge that gap, offering an online high school diploma and free workforce credentials - as well as job placement - in construction or health care.

"To grow the economy of the state, we have to have the workforce to take the middle skills jobs out there," said Greg Harp, senior vice president of Graduation Alliance. The Utah-based company recently formalized the deal with the state's Talent Investment Agency to offer Michigan 23+ Adult Diploma and Training Program. Anyone in Michigan aged 23 or over and with a 10th grade education is eligible to participate. (MLive)

 

Teacher recruitment, retention, reward is aim of package of bills in Legislature

LANSING Teachers would be rewarded, recruited and revered under a 22-bill package introduced in the Michigan Senate last week. The bills would provide signing bonuses for new teachers, stipends for student teachers assigned to economically disadvantaged districts, incentives and scholarships for students to enter the teaching profession and student loan debt forgiveness. "Michigan teachers need our support and our kids simply deserve to have good schools with good teachers," said Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood, D-Taylor, one of the lead sponsors of the legislation. One of the bills in the package, which faces a tough climb in the Republican-controlled Legislature, would mandate a ratio of one teacher for every 20 students in grades kindergarten through the fourth grade. (Detroit Free Press)

 

Are charter schools ruining the public education system?

Opinion: Head of the U.S. Department of Education Betsy DeVos has been celebrating National School Choice Week, which aims to offer parents more choices in their educational options -- including charter schools. Some education advocates argue charter schools, publicly funded independent schools run by private companies or organizations, have been detrimental to the public school system. Others believe charter schools are the best alternative to poor public school systems. What do you think? (MLive)

 

Michigan launching Seal of Biliteracy program for high school students

Graduating high school seniors could have the opportunity this spring to earn a Seal of Biliteracy from the state of Michigan designating their ability to speak and write two languages. The Michigan Department of Education is launching the program this year. High school graduates who can demonstrate an "intermediate/high" proficiency in two languages, through an approved assessment, will be eligible to earn the seal. LaWanna Shelton, a special assistant at MDE who helped design the program, said the idea is to encourage students to study a world language and - if the student's primary language is not English - embrace and maintain fluency in their native language while learning English. (MLive)

 

MEA questions interest amounts in retiree health repayments from state

The Michigan Education Association wants teachers and other school employees to receive more interest from the $550 million the state improperly deducted from their paychecks from 2010 to 2012 to help fund retiree health care. Teachers last week began receiving emails from the Michigan Office of Retirement Services notifying them how much money they would receive. Almost immediately, there were complaints about how much interest was included. In one instance, a teacher receiving $5,400 back is getting nearly $43 in interest. (Detroit Free Press)

 

Gov. Rick Snyder proposes more money for Michigan schools in final State of the State

Gov. Rick Snyder hopes to send more money to schools around the state next year. He announced during his eighth and final State of the State address Tuesday that his budget proposal will include “the largest increase in the basic per pupil student foundation allowance in the last 15 years.”  This proposal comes just a week after Amazon delivered a major rebuke to the state’s educational system. The retail giant cited the poor state of schools and the lack of qualified professionals in the state when it eliminated both Detroit and Grand Rapids from consideration for the future home of its second headquarters. (Chalkbeat)

Related story:

> Detroit News: Snyder pushes school aid bump in final State of State

 

Michigan's K-12 performance dropping at alarming rate

If K-12 achievement in Michigan were a trendline, it is clearly pointing the wrong direction. By just about any measuring stick, the state is losing the race to educational excellence. The 2017 report from the Gov. Rick Snyder’s 21st Century Education Commission put it this way: “The urgency could not be greater. While it is difficult to face, the data are clear: Michigan children are falling behind.” Contrary to some misperceptions, Michigan’s K-12 achievement gap spans racial economic and racial spectrums. Contrary to common misperception, it’s not just poor and minority students who are failing to learn. (Bridge)

 

Monroe County ISD opens second Transition Center in Temperance

TEMPERANCE — A handful of students have a new place to learn close to their homes. The Monroe County Intermediate School District opened a second Transition Center at the beginning of this school year in Temperance. Nine students attend school at Monroe County College’s Whitman Center. They learn a variety of life skills and work at job sites to prepare them for independence. “About 20 to 25 percent of our Transition Center students live in the Bedford community while the majority of our training sites are located within the City of Monroe,” said William Hite, principal of the center. (Monroe News)

 

Airport Community Schools seeks additional funding

Should voters living in Airport Community Schools pass a bond request this spring, Niedermeier Elementary School will reopen. It’s a bold move but district officials are confident it is the right choice. The district’s enrollment has increased, including adding more than 60 students this year.

The district’s overall enrollment was 2,619 during the fall Count Day up from 2,552 during the same time in 2016. “We would reopen Niedermeier as an elementary school in the fall of 2019 but only if this passes,” Supt. John Krimmel said. (Monroe News)

 

Amazon to Michigan: Fix your schools!

Opinion: Sometimes you learn more from a bucket of cold water in the face than a warm blanket over your back. Last week, Amazon announced it turned down Detroit's bid to be a finalist city for its second headquarters. The big reason: Our state lacks the depth and quality of human talent they need. For Michiganders who have kids in school or looking for a good job or hoping to get into a good college, this is comes as no surprise. Business Leaders for Michigan, which has been benchmarking Michigan's standing for years, ranks us 29th in the nation for the percentage of high school graduates who are regarded as college or career ready, 32nd for the percentage of the workforce with technical training, and 30th in overall educational attainment. (Bridge)

Related story:

> Education Trust-Midwest: Amazon Announcement Highlights Need for Educational Transformation

 

MSUFCU donates $100K to Lansing Promise scholarship program

LANSING - A scholarship program that helps Lansing students go to college received a $100,000 donation last week from the Michigan State University Federal Credit Union. Justin Sheehan, executive director of the Lansing Promise, said MSUFCU's gift represents a commitment to the success of Lansing's students. "This is a business in our community that cares about our kids," Sheehan said. (Lansing State Journal)

 

$550 million refund headed to schools on Monday

A $550 million refund to former and current Michigan public school employees is headed to school districts across the state on Monday, but recipients shouldn’t expect to see the money anytime soon. The Michigan Office of Retirement Services is returning the funds as promised on Monday, but individual school districts must still determine how to disburse the funds and follow appropriate tax reporting rules, according to a statement on the ORS website. “ORS will be returning the funds to the reporting units on January 22. This does not mean that the school districts will disburse those funds on that date. (Detroit News)

 

Wrong lesson when teachers pick class leaders

Opinion: HASLETT – If the goal of student council is to teach students about democracy and leadership, Haslett High School gets a failing grade. Teachers, not students, chose the officers of the schoolwide student council this year. And their choices raised eyebrows. The student who lost her bid for senior class president, Jackie Duckett, was put in as president of the student council. And Emily Littleton, the daughter of a teacher who advises the student council, Diane Littleton, was named vice president, even though she didn’t run for a class leadership position. Her mother abstained from voting. (Lansing State Journal)

 

School cell phone policies differ in firmness, flexibility

In the past, many school districts clamped down hard on students using cell phones. As the devices have become more prevalent, some schools have made allowances for when they may be used — while others have kept the lid on them.  For example, the Port Huron Area School district maintains different policies for different ages of students. At the elementary school level, cell phones are expected to be turned off and stored in students' backpacks, according to Tracie Eschenburg, executive director for employee and student services at Port Huron Schools. (Port Huron Times Herald)

 

Michigan exploring whether tax overhaul creates state deduction for private school tuition

With two children in Catholic school, and another three expected to enroll in the future, Aaron Wilkerson knows the pinch that private school can put on your wallet. Which is why a recent provision in the federal tax legislation allowing 529 college savings plans - where money can be invested and grow tax free - to be used for private school tuition caught his attention.  "Private Catholic school is pretty expensive," said Wilkerson, 33, of Redford, who works as an information technology project manager. "I think for middle class families every little bit helps." Throughout Michigan, there's undoubtedly more parents with the same sentiment. (MLive)

 

New report highlights need to transform Michigan's school funding system, educators argue

A new school finance study shows Michigan is underfunding its schools, and additional dollars should be invested in students with the greatest needs, including those who are low-income, have a limited grasp of English or require special education. The study was released Wednesday by the School Finance Research Collaborative, an organization representing educators, foundations and members of the business community. Speaking at a news conference in Grand Rapids, members of the collaborative characterized Michigan's current school funding formula as "broken," and urged members of the state Legislature to revamp how education is financed. They advocated for an approach that focuses more deeply on the different needs of various student groups. (MLive)

Related stories:

> Chalkbeat: Sweeping study proposes major changes to the way schools are funded in Michigan

> Dearborn Press & Guide: Study finds it cost $9,590 per year to educate a child; few districts are hitting it

> Detroit Free Press: Report: Fund charter schools equally, boost funding for all Michigan schools

> Michigan Radio: Report says Michigan should spend at least $9,550 per K-12 student

> Detroit News: Report: Michigan schools need funding boost

> US News: Study: Overhaul Is Needed of How Michigan Funds Schools

 

Caledonia superintendent resigns to 'clear path for new leadership'

CALEDONIA, MI - The Caledonia Community Schools Board of Education sent a letter to parents Tuesday, Jan. 16, informing them that Superintendent Randy Rodriguez resigned during a special meeting Monday. Rodriguez's resignation comes 11 months after the resolution of a 2016 workplace complaint investigation in which allegations of unlawful sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation were made. The investigation found he did nothing unlawful. Superintendent since August 2012, Rodriguez's resignation was effective immediately. Kent Intermediate School District Superintendent Ron Caniff is serving as acting superintendent until an interim superintendent is named. (MLive)

 

Muskegon school board member calls for superintendent's dismissal

MUSKEGON, MI - A veteran Muskegon Public Schools board member is calling for the "immediate dismissal" of the district's superintendent. Billie Bruce, a 26-year board member, addressed the board and the public during a regular meeting at the Hackley Administration Building on Tuesday, Jan. 16. "This past year has been regretful in so many ways, and has been harmful to our students and to the morale of our staff," she said. "I am asking for the immediate dismissal of Superintendent Jennings."  Bruce said that at least two other members of the seven-member board are in agreement with her. (MLive)

 

Michigan not pursuing federal pilot to reimagine standardized testing

If you ask most teachers, chances are you won't find much love for standardized tests. Many say they drain the fun out of teaching and learning, and that students are forced to spend too much time preparing for them. Which is why many were intrigued by a new provision in the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, which gives states an opportunity to apply for a pilot program to take a step toward moving away from rigid, standardized tests in favor of a more innovative way of measuring student learning. Such tests could include performance tasks, projects and student portfolios.  But Michigan is not moving in that direction - at least for now. (MLive)

 

Grand Rapids School Board applying to offer tuition-free pathway to college

GRAND RAPIDS, MI - The Grand Rapids School Board passed a resolution Tuesday, Jan. 16, to apply to the Michigan Department of Treasury to become a Promise Zone to offer students free college tuition. The Promise Zone designation would provide students who live within the district's geographic boundaries and graduate from any high school within those boundaries -- public, private or charter -- a scholarship to attend at a minimum a two-year community college tuition free and potentially a four-year university. "We want to increase the opportunity for students in Grand Rapids to have access to a postsecondary education,'' said school board president Wendy Falb, executive director of the Literacy Center of West Michigan. (MLive)

 

Michigan awards $2.5 million in grants to school robotics teams

The Michigan Department of Education awarded $2.5 million in grants to FIRST Robotics teams across the state. The $2.5 million was divided between public and non-public schools with nearly $2.3 million awarded to 423 public schools and $157,700 to 39 non-public schools. The grants, which range in award amounts from $100 to $9,000 will be used to grow robotics teams. Michigan has invested $12 million helping schools start and strengthen FIRST teams since 2014. Governor Rick Snyder has said that the science, technology, engineering, arts, and math skills students learn through building robots for competitions will help prepare students for future, needed jobs. Many teams in the Holland area received grants. Hamilton High School’s Do The Thing team and iCademy Global’s Globetrotters received $3,500 grants. (Holland Sentinel)

 

Nuss retiring from Holly Area Schools

“There comes a time for everyone to move on,” said David Nuss, superintendent of Holly Area Schools (HAS) of his upcoming retirement. After 32 years with the district, with the last five as superintendent, Nuss will work until June 30. Prior to his current position, Nuss was a teacher at the high school for 11 years, assistant principal for two years, principal for 14 years, and assistant superintendent for one year. Nuss said he has enjoyed many highlights throughout his career at HAS. (Tri-County Times)

 

School employee refund data heads to Michigan districts

Michigan school districts this week are receiving lists of former and current public school employees who are entitled to their shares of a $550 million refund for retiree healthcare paycheck deductions deemed unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court. The Office of Retirement Services began sending the data to districts on Wednesday in an effort to begin the process of issuing the repayment to 274,742 former and current teachers and other school employees by Jan. 22. But the state’s largest teacher’s union — concerned over possible inconsistencies in how individual districts will refund the money — is asking Court of Claims Judge Stephen L. Borrello for a status conference to issue “refund guidelines” to ensure that every school employee who is owed money receives it. (Detroit News)

 

Harper Creek may ask voters to renew operating millage

Harper Creek Community Schools is planning to ask voters to renew a non-homestead operating millage in May. "We're working hard to inform voters that this is a tax renewal for a levy that is already in place for non-homestead properties," Superintendent Rob Ridgeway said Wednesday. Unlike other operating millages, non-homestead millages do not tax primary residences, but apply to other property, such as rental properties, second homes and commercial and industrial businesses. (Battle Creek Enquirer)