Gov Snyder Says More Time Needed to Resolve Questions on School Closures or Restructuring

From the Governor’s Office of Urban Initiatives:

School Reform Office and MI Department of Education collaborating with local districts on best ideas for schools and the students they serve

LANSING – Gov. Rick Snyder today announced that more time and work are needed to determine the best course of action for the 38 schools on the state’s potential closure list.

“The entire team at the School Reform Office has worked diligently to analyze data, visit schools and review potential options, but we need to do more before any final decisions can be made,” Snyder said. “Any action we take will have long-lasting consequences and we need to take the time to get this right. That’s why I want our SRO team to work closely with State Superintendent Brian Whiston and the Michigan Department of Education to reach out and coordinate all the latest information with local superintendents and districts.”

Each year, schools in the bottom 5 percent of all public schools in Michigan are identified as Priority Schools and monitored for turnaround in subsequent years. State law requires that schools identified in the bottom 5 percent of all schools write plans and receive support services. Schools are eligible to leave Priority School status if they meet three exit criteria after four years of implementing redesign plans. Earlier this year, 79 schools exited the priority list.

“Our vision at the SRO is for every kid in Michigan to have access to a globally competitive education,” said State School Reform Officer Natasha Baker. “All kids deserve access to a quality school that will prepare them for a good life after high school. That’s why our team remains dedicated to taking action when schools are not providing students with a quality education; in some instances this has been the case for over a decade.”

Gov. Snyder said that while closure may not be the right option for serving students and their families due to the hardship it would create, there still must be some action taken to fix a failing school. That’s why he is having Baker’s and Whiston’s teams collaborate on possible solutions.

“I appreciate the good working relationship that has developed between the Michigan Department of Education and the School Reform Office, and now we can build upon that to help students in struggling schools,” Whiston said. “Closing a school is a tough decision and sometimes there just are no other options that make sense, but we need to work closely with a local district and the community they serve to reach our conclusions together.”

Gov. Snyder has asked the SRO and the MDE to have all reviews and decisions by May, and that any decisions available before then should be announced as soon as they are ready.

“I understand the anxiety that parents have when there is a discussion about a school being closed and that everyone wants answers right away. But if we are going to do this right, we are going to have to take the time to do the right thing,” Snyder said. “We have heard from communities and their elected officials about the desire to have more input into this process and we will consider feedback from local communities as we move forward. The focus in all of this needs to be on helping and teaching the kids involved, so even if a school is not closed, there will be some changes made.

“We also know that legislators want to review and possibly replace the law that the SRO is governed by and I look forward to working on that with them. We must ensure all students have a pathway to Michigan’s future success. That path starts at home and continues straight through the school doors.”

City Commission Shows Support for Washington Writers' Academy & Woodward School

At its regular meeting on Monday, February 20, the Kalamazoo City Commission adopted pdf Resolution 17-3 (421 KB) , "in support of keeping open Washington Writers' Academy and the Woodward School for Technology and Research".

The two elementary schools were recently among 38 Michigan schools identified as low performing by the State School Reform Office (SRO). The SRO has the authority to close schools that remain on the list for three years.

Resolution 17-3 notes the strong support showed within the community to keep these two schools open, and also notes recent improvement grants that have been received, renovations of the two facilities, and a history of improvement within Kalamazoo Public Schools. Three schools previously included on the priority list were removed this year, and a recent report by the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research and Kalamazoo Public Schools data both show improvements in student achievement.

You can read the resolution and a letter from Mayor Hopewell to the School Reform Office pdf here (421 KB)

City Leaders Seek Resident Opinion through Community-wide Survey

The City of Kalamazoo is asking residents to participate in The National Citizen Survey™ (The NCS™), a survey designed to provide a baseline of how the city government is serving residents, to gauge perceptions of the city and to make comparisons with peer cities.

A random and scientific sample of 1,500 households will receive invitations to participate in the mail and their confidential responses will be weighted and analyzed. The NCS™ will be administered at periodic intervals in the future to track progress towards goals.

The survey centers on community livability and includes questions about the quality of life in the community, local policies, demographics, rating of local government services and resident use of services. The survey includes questions directly related to the Imagine Kalamazoo 2025 community visioning process, which will allow the results of Imagine Kalamazoo to be compared to a statistically significant survey sample.

“The NCS will provide another valuable source of community input as we begin drafting a new Master Plan and Strategic Vision later this year,” said City Manager Jim Ritsema. “As we shift from planning to action, the NCS will also provide benchmarks, allow us to track progress, and make comparisons to other communities.”

Community members are encouraged to visit www.imaginekalamazoo.com to learn more about Imagine Kalamazoo 2025, stay connected to the process, and find opportunities to get involved.

The NCS™ was developed by National Research Center, Inc. in partnership with the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) in 2001 to provide cities with a low-cost, high-quality method to conduct research. It has been used in more than 350 jurisdictions across 46 states and is endorsed by both the ICMA and the National League of Cities.

City of Kalamazoo

Home to the Kalamazoo Promise, three institutions of higher education, two nationally recognized healthcare systems, cutting-edge medical research, world-class brewing and dining, outstanding parks, and an extensive variety of music, art, theatre, and cultural attractions.

Contact

 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 (269) 337-8047
 (269) 337-8182
 241 West South Street
     Kalamazoo, MI 49007

Keep in Touch