Parents and school officials concerned with potentially sweeping education reform currently making its way through the Michigan legislature are invited to sound off at a series of informational meetings starting Tuesday across Oakland County.
Dave Randels, assistant director of the office of government relations and pupil services for Oakland Schools, will speak about Gov. Rick Snyder's education funding proposals from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Doyle Center in Bloomfield Hills.
"Michigan is embarking on a very radical experiment with our children — one that is untested and untried," an alert on the Bloomfield Hills Public Schools website read Monday. "We need to come together to learn about this movement and what we can do about it."
This proposals, if adopted, will have a significant impact on school systems and funding statewide. Included in the proposals are changes on how students are counted for state aid and removing restrictions on per-pupil funding that can be shared by school districts.
The reform legislation also calls for expanding online education programs and removing school district stewardship of a student's per-pupil allocation by geographic boundaries.
School board members note legislation could bring down property values
In Birmingham, school board members as well as Birmingham Superintendent Daniel Nerad expressed their fears over the pending legislation. In a Letter to the Editor published Nov. 26 on Birmingham Patch, school board members and Nerad noted that House Bill 6004 and 5923 and State Bill 1358 are "bad for Birmingham."
"These bills will gut the competitive educational excellence our communities expect and undermine the very structure which supports strong property values," the letter reads. "They create a new Lansing bureaucracy that tells Birmingham and other high performing schools how to operate."
At the Nov. 13 Birmingham Board of Education meeting, school board trustee and real estate agent Susan Hill noted the legislation has the potential to harm Birmingham's schools and real estate values.
"(With this legistlation), dollars follow students instead of dollars staying in a geographically defined districts," she said. "I don't care what your politics are. When we talk about property values, that's it."
School board trustee Robert Lawrence agreed.
"We are an elite district," he said. "We have worked hard. Our parents have high expectations and they have paid more money to get the best results."
Nerad said the proposed legislation worries him because "there is a basic democratic principle at risk," he said.
"At the end, it takes away that many decisions from you, as an elected body," he said, addressing the school board. "It's about the basic principle of government, letting the local unit of government decide whether it wants to have charter schools, or a K-12 school, or a 3-8 school."
At the Monday night City Commission meeting, Birmingham's outgoing State Rep. Chuck Moss (R-Birmingham) admitted he didn't yet know all the details about the education legislation, but said he does have an issue with reform that strips away local control.
"People pay to live here and be in this district," Moss told the City Commisssion. "To simply say you can enjoy the benefits of the Birmingham school system without paying the taxes is just free-riding and I'm not OK with that."
Meetings planned for Royal, Novi, Rochester
- Tuesday, Nov. 27, 4 p.m. Royal Oak Middle School
- Tuesday, Nov. 27, 6:30 p.m. 709 N. Washington Ave., Royal Oak 48067
- Wednesday, Nov.28, 4 p.m. Novi High School
- Wednesday, Nov. 28, 6:30 p.m. 24062 Taft, Novi 48375
- Thursday, Nov. 29, 4 p.m. Farmington Schools– Ten Mile Building
- Thursday, Nov. 29, 6:30 p.m. 32789 W. Ten Mile, Farmington
- Monday, Dec. 3, 4 p.m. Rochester High School
- Monday, Dec. 3, 6:30 pm. 180 S. Livernois, Rochester 48307
- Tuesday, Dec. 4, 4 p.m. Clarkston Jr. High School
- Tuesday, Dec. 4, 6:30 p.m. 6595 Waldon Road, Clarkston 48346