6 Oakland districts reject feds' school funding plan
This item includes an interesting financial detail: Half of the money awarded goes to school districts while the other half goes to the state to support education initiatives. Hence the state applies the screws.
The reporter also notes:
Still, they'll have to abide by the new rules that link teacher pay and tenure to student performance, allow fast-track teacher certification, open new charter schools and allow state takeovers of failing schools.
Lansing -- A number of Oakland County school districts are unhappy with state education reform measures and won't support Michigan's push to win $400 million from the feds.
The move means the districts would be bypassing a total of about $1 million they would have received if the state is selected to receive money through the Obama administration's Race to the Top competition. Still, they'll have to abide by the new rules that link teacher pay and tenure to student performance, allow fast-track teacher certification, open new charter schools and allow state takeovers of failing schools.
Bloomfield Hills, Birmingham, Novi, Lake Orion, Walled Lake and South Lyon are among the districts that voted not to participate. In Wayne County, 33 of 34 districts signed off on the plan. Only Northville wanted more time, but said it likely would support the plan.
State School Superintendent Mike Flanagan on Wednesday gave school districts a few more days to review the plan, which was to be posted on the state's Web site Friday night. Those that wanted more time have until Tuesday to tell the state their intentions.
In Macomb County, Richmond and East Detroit were the only two of 21 Macomb County school districts that opted not to participate.
The districts' opposition is a new wrinkle in the fight over the legislation, signed into law this week by Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
"We were concerned about the lack of time to have thoughtful discussion regarding the plan," said Judy Evola, spokeswoman for the Walled Lake district. "The plan wasn't available for district officials to scrutinize until last week."
Previously, many unions, spurred by the Michigan Education Association, urged their locals not to sign on because they were opposed to some aspects of the five-bill package.
While state education spokeswoman Jan Ellis said hundreds of school districts have agreed to support the education changes, states with a number of school districts that won't participate could jeopardize chances of winning part of $4 billion being distributed nationwide. The state has to submit its application by Jan. 19 and will learn in April if it's among the states to win the money.
The Oakland districts not participating were named in a memo e-mailed to Bloomfield Hills parents and staff this morning from Superintendent Steve Gaynor.
"Our relatively good financial position, for the time being, allows us to 'Just Say No' to the so-called experts in Lansing and Washington who would force our teachers to drop all the excellent work they do and instead teach to the MEAP (Michigan Education Assessment Program test)," Gaynor wrote. "We are a high-performing district that doesn't need or want one-size-fits-all solutions like (Race to the Top), with outsiders telling us how to evaluate our teachers -- we already have an excellent plan for evaluation that appropriately looks at student achievement."
Gaynor did not return a phone call for comment from The Detroit News.
Half of the money awarded goes to school districts while the other half goes to the state to support education initiatives. The school district's share of the federal money is based on how many students qualify for free or reduced lunches through the federal Title I program.
Urban districts stand to get the most if Michigan wins the money, because they have the greatest number of low-income students. Detroit Public Schools would be in line for $70.5 million. Dearborn Public Schools would get $4.2 million; Hamtramck schools, $1.7 million; Wayne-Westland Community Schools, $1.5 million; Highland Park, $1.3 million; and Taylor, $1.3 million.
"We have 100 percent from the districts in our county," said Kevin Magin, associate superintendent for instruction for Wayne RESA, the county intermediate school district. "Many of our districts want to see the actual plans, but if we were in a position to help the state receive funds from the federal government we clearly -- given the financial situation -- cannot pass on the opportunity to bring money for our schools."
Pontiac is the only Oakland County school district that can expect more than a million dollars, with an allocation of roughly $2.8 million. Southfield schools would get $724,197; Waterford, $579, 247; and Oak Park, $431,649.
In Macomb County, the biggest winner would be Utica Community Schools, which stands to receive roughly $1 million. Warren Consolidated Schools would get just under $1 million, with $509,542 going to L'Anse Creuse schools; $390,000 to East Detroit Schools; and $365, 515 to Chippewa Valley.
The school districts that don't support the application won't get relief from the new rules.
"The legislation we passed is going to happen whether we get Race to the Top or not," said Rep. Tim Melton, D-Auburn Hills. "The reforms are not contingent on getting Race to the Top."
The chair of the House Education Committee said he'll call districts that didn't sign on in hopes of convincing them to change their minds.
INDEX OF NCLB OUTRAGES