Michigan Education

Education is a big issue in northern Michigan, whether we're reporting on school funding issues to breakthroughs in the classroom.

Old Mission Peninsula School - TCAPS Facebook page

Update 12/12/16: The board for Traverse City Area Public Schools votes to redistrict Old Mission Peninsula, sending public schools students on the peninsula to Eastern Elementary School in the fall of 2018. At that time, TCAPS will stop running Old Mission Peninsula School.

Public school students on Old Mission Peninsula will likely go to Eastern Elementary School beginning in fall 2018. Officials for Traverse City Area Public Schools could decide Monday whether to formally redistrict those students to Eastern Elementary School.

David Cassleman

State Republicans want to reform the retirement system for public school teachers by eliminating pensions.

Since 2012, new teachers have received a hybrid retirement plan that blends a traditional pension with a 401(k). But legislation being debated during the lame-duck session would close the traditional pension system for future new hires and would offer them a 401(k)-style plan only. 

Republican lawmakers say the goal is to create a more reliable retirement system. The old pension system has unfunded liabilities totaling $26.7 billion, according to the Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency. 

 


Morgan Springer

 

The administration and faculty at Northwestern Michigan College have finally reached a contract agreement. The agreement comes after more than a year and a half of tense negotiations.

Collective bargaining began when the faculty unionized in 2015. Bronwyn Jones, an instructor at NMC and a faculty representative in the negotiation process, says the faculty originally unionized in part because they felt left out of the college's decision-making processes and the faculty's relationship with administration was strained.

Northwestern Michigan College

Faculty at Northwestern Michigan College could again report directly to the college board at regular meetings, according to the NMC administration. But the faculty says the offer comes with too many restrictions.

The faculty report agenda item has been a point of contention since 2007. That’s when the college board stopped hearing directly from teachers at its monthly meeting. After that, faculty could speak at board meetings for 3 minutes periods during the public comment section of the agenda.

Morgan Springer

The pressure is on for districts and teachers to have their students reading proficiently. That’s after Michigan’s third grade reading bill passed this month. The bill says that students who don’t read well by third grade might be held back. It would take effect in three years. So for schools that are struggling, that means turning things around fast. There’s a grade school near Traverse City that has been trying to figure out how to do that.

 

Traverse City Area Public Schools

The superintendent for Traverse City Area Public Schools says it is unlikely the district will find a way to save Old Mission Peninsula School. Last year, Paul Soma recommended the district close the elementary school due to low enrollment. But when an anonymous, private donor offered $800,000 in March toward saving the school, TCAPS officials postponed the decision to close it. 

Since then, a community group has been meeting with school officials to come up with a creative way to save the school using the private money.

Morgan Springer

It was count day in Michigan public schools Wednesday. It's the day where public schools figure out how many students they have and how much money they’ll get from the state. State money is calculated on a per pupil basis.

Preliminary results show that Traverse City Area Public Schools lost 70 students. Last year, TCAPS had 9,594 students. This year there are 9,524.

One school, Old Mission Peninsula School, lost 20 students. Last fall, school officials recommended closing the school due to low enrollment numbers. 

Morgan Springer

Updated October 5, 2016: The contract agreement was ratified this morning by Traverse City Area Public Schools' board. The teachers union ratified the agreement on Monday.

Traverse City teachers could secure a three-year contract giving them a pay increase into 2020. Officials in Traverse City Area Public Schools have reached a tentative contract agreement with the Traverse City Education Association, the teachers' union.

Michigan college students who graduated in 2014 had $29,450 in student loan debt on average – the ninth highest in the nation, according to a new study from the Michigan League for Public Policy.

Morgan Springer

A plan to create a nonprofit to save the elementary school on Old Mission Peninsula was presented publicly last night. At the joint meeting, board members from Peninsula Township and Traverse City Area Public Schools were asked to work with the soon-to-be-created Old Mission Peninsula Education Foundation to keep the school open. TCAPS had proposed closing it because of low enrollment.

Western Michigan University

College athletics are not moneymakers for most public institutions in Michigan. 

A new report from MLive called ‘The Price to Play’ shows that most universities are losing money on sports. Western Michigan University, for example, spends tens of millions of dollars to keep its athletic department afloat, the report says. 

Paula Gardner, an MLive reporter who worked on the series, says students and taxpayers are footing the bill. She spoke with IPR News Radio's David Cassleman about the price of big-time college athletics: 

 


An administrative law judge will consider accusations that Northwestern Michigan College froze its teachers’ pay as punishment for forming a union.

Judge Travis Calderwood denied a motion by the college to dismiss the case and said a two-day hearing with witnesses will be scheduled for October.

Faculty members and NMC have been bargaining over a first contract for more than a year. Teachers formed a union in March of 2015.

Morgan Springer

Class begins this week for 57 school districts in Michigan, including three districts within the Wexford-Missaukee Intermediate School District. Schools are required to start after Labor Day in Michigan, but these districts applied successfully for a waiver from the Michigan Department of Education.

One district starting early is Manton Consolidated Schools. Their first day is Wednesday, August 24th.

Traverse City Area Public Schools

The group working to save the elementary school on Old Mission Peninsula is ready to go public with its proposal. They began planning after Traverse City Area Public Schools' board held postponed a decision to close the school because of a potential $800,000 donation. TCAPS officials were considering closing the school because they said it was losing the district money each year because there aren’t enough students.

The board will decide tonight if they’re willing to hear the proposal for the first time in a joint meeting with the Peninsula Township board.

Kelly Clark's campaign Facebook Page

There’s a Libertarian in the race for Grand Traverse County’s House seat, Michigan's 104th district.

Kelly Clark is a Traverse City Area Public Schools board member and retired public school teacher.

"The overreach in government right now is at an all time high, and it just keeps expanding," says Clark. "I’m all in favor of minimum government and maximum freedom."

Clark says, to start, there are way too many taxes in Michigan.

Morgan Springer

Two elementary schools in Traverse City are closing. The board at Traverse City Area Public Schools made that decision a few months ago. Parents were torn up about it, but now the kids are dealing with the reality of having to find a new school. Around 70 students from Interlochen Community School, one of the schools that’s closing, visited Westwoods Elementary School last week to get to know their future school.

 

Michigan's K-12 students are among the weakest academically in the U.S., and they're falling even further behind, according to a report released today by Education Trust-Midwest, a Michigan-based non-partisan research education and advocacy organization.

The report predicts that if things don't change, Michigan will rank 48th nationally in fourth grade reading scores by 2030, far from the state's goal of becoming a top ten state in education by that year. 

Kingsley Area Schools

A student in Kingsley who identifies as bi-gender has requested use of the bathroom of the student’s choice. Kingsley Area Schools superintendent Keith Smith says the student spoke at a board meeting in April about having a fluid gender identity between male and female.

Smith says it's his impression that the student wants to be able to use either bathroom. The district is waiting to hear back from an attorney about the bi-gender student’s request before moving forward.

 

From Elk Rapids to Beaver Island, voters have approved tax millages and bonds to pay for school expenses.

Tuesday’s election was one of four dates this year when schools can ask for money.

A bond proposal for Elk Rapids Schools passed by a margin better than two-to-one, according to unofficial results. The bond will pay for technology and safety upgrades over four years.

Teachers at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City say they’re being punished for forming a union. Faculty pay has been frozen while teachers bargain for their first union contract. The group filed a complaint with the state over the issue in late April.

The complaint addresses two types of pay increases that have been typical at NMC for teachers in the past.

It says increases for teachers based on seniority, called step increases, should continue because NMC is required to maintain “status quo” during contract negotiations.  

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