Michigan Education

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

Mesick Consolidated Schools District website

School officials in Mesick say they need $14.5 million to demolish, rebuild and upgrade their schools. Residents in the district will vote on the millage in May.

David Cassleman

Traverse City school officials have voted to cut Spanish class for most elementary school students in a move that the district says will save $400,000.

The board of education for Traverse City Area Pubic Schools met Monday night to vote on the proposal. The board also approved sunsetting the International Baccalaureate program at the middle school level. 

David Cassleman

Spanish class would be all but eliminated from Traverse City elementary schools under a budget recommendation made by the district superintendent’s office Monday night.

Benzie County Central Schools

A school board in Benzie County will consider closing Platte River Elementary School later this month. The head of Benzie County Central Schools says the district needs to save money.

Peter Payette

Northwestern Michigan College will soon offer classes specifically aimed at adults with learning challenges and disabilities. The college announced the pilot program earlier this week. 

The eight courses will cover a variety of lifelong learning topics, including robotics and animal care. 

 


Photo courtesy of Gary D. Smith at Picture This.

The varsity girls basketball coach at Traverse City West High School has died, school officials confirmed on Wednesday. 

Mike Wilde coached a variety of sports in Traverse City Area Public Schools for more than 30 years, including basketball, baseball and football.

Morgan Springer

A school in Grand Traverse County has been working to turn things around. Blair Elementary School is a lower-performing school with a number of challenges. Last fall, IPR reported that the school significantly improved reading scores. Now the school is tackling behavioral issues.

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.

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