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Weekly Update - June 20, 2012
June 20, 2012

Good Things Happening in Our Schools:

U.S. News and World Report gives high marks to Michigan charter schools
Michigan’s charter schools were well-represented when U.S. News and World Report recently published its 2012 edition of the Nation’s Best High Schools. Black River Public School in Holland earned a Gold ranking, and was named the second-best public school in the state.

Two SABIS charter schools also made the list, including the International Academy of Flint (along with the SABIS International Charter School, of Springfield, Mass.), both of which earned a Bronze ranking.

Also earning Bronze rankings were the AGBU Alex and Marie Manoogian School, Aisha Shule/WEB DuBois Preparatory Academy, Byron Center Charter School, Cesar Chavez High School, Countryside Academy, Crossroads Charter Academy, Eaton Academy, Star International Academy and Washtenaw Technical Middle College. The 2012 edition includes data on nearly 22,000 public schools, 500 of which received gold medals. U.S. News awarded more than 4,850 gold, silver, and bronze medals to the top-performing schools.

Please submit any announcements, news or event information for MAPSA's "Good Things Happening in Our Schools" feature to Buddy Moorehouse at bmoorehouse@charterschools.org.

Legislature Passes Change to Kindergarten Start Date
The Legislature passed HB 4513 and SB316 last week, which will eventually move the kindergarten start date to September 1 and codify the current budget year plan to pay a half foundation allowance for half-day kindergarten.

The bills move up the minimum age requirement for a child enrolling in kindergarten so that a child would have to be five years of age by September 1, rather than December 1 (as is the case now). The requirement would be phased in over three years, starting in the 2013-14 school year. A child could enroll in kindergarten if he or she were at least 5 years old on November 1 of the 2013-14 school year, on October 1 of the 2014-15 school year, and on September 1 immediately preceding enrollment for the 2015-16 school year.

The parent or guardian of a child who is under 5 years old on the required date but who will be at least 5 years old by December 1 of the school year would be permitted to enroll their student in kindergarten. To do so, the parent or guardian must notify the school district by June 1 immediately prior to the school year of the intention to enroll the child in kindergarten for the upcoming school year. (If a child becomes a resident of the school district after June 1, the written notification must be provided by August 1.) The district could make a recommendation that the child is not ready to enroll in kindergarten due to the child’s age or other factors, but the parent or guardian would still have the choice to enroll the child.

Finally, the package of bills codifies the current budget year plan to only pay half the foundation allowance for students attending half-day kindergarten. There is an exception to the new calculation, however, for schools that can show they have used Title I federal funds to pay for all day kindergarten the previous two years so that those schools can continue to use the federal funds for that program.

If you have any questions, please contact Alicia Urbain, Vice President of Government and Legal Affairs, at 517-999-4416 or aurbain@charterschools.org.

Legislature Adjourns Without Taking Action on MPSERS
The Legislature adjourned last week without final action on MPSERS. The Legislature removed the disastrous language that would have held all charter schools liable for paying down the debt incurred from the broken MPSERS system.

The House passed its version of the reform on Thursday morning. It was, however, vastly different from the Senate’s version, largely due to the fact that is did not include closing the system to new employees, thus eliminating new legacy debt, and moving to a 401K-style plan like the Senate had included. The differences were so great that the Senate declined to take a vote on the House version of the bill before it adjourned for its annual in-district work period. The Senate could take it up again when it reconvenes on July 18.

PNC Bank Creates New Fund for Charter Schools
According to the Wall Street Journal, PNC Bank is creating a new fund to loan money to high-performing public charter schools that are looking to expand. “Facility ownership and ability to expand is crucial to charter schools seeking to grow their enrollment,” Greg McKenna, managing director at PNC Capital Markets, said in a press release. The new fund “is a convenient option for schools seeking growth in the near-term but lack the necessary funds to move forward.” The fund will target schools with a track record of academic and financial success that need more than $7 million in order to add capacity to an existing facility or buy a new one. The fund will advance up to 80 percent of the value of a school's property. Click here to learn more about financing resources available through PNC.

EDWorks Outlines Grant Opportunities
EDWorks recently updated their social media outlets with several new grant opportunities. They include:

2012 NSSEA School Facility Grants: Each year, the School Equipment Show showcases the newest and the best products for educational facilities. If you are a decision-maker at a school, college or university involved in any part of the design, building, or refurbishing of an educational facility, you may be eligible for an NSSEA School Facility Grant.

Best Buy: Best Buy teams across the United States select non-profit organizations that give teens access to opportunities through technology to help them excel in school and develop 21st century skills. This year, the Best Buy Children’s Foundation will give $2.8 million in Community Grants. Grant amounts will average $4,000-$6,000 and will not exceed $10,000. The application deadline is July 1, 2012.

The Kroger Co. Foundation (various deadlines): These focus on areas where Kroger has a presence.

Technology Grants for Rural Schools program: This was created to help meet the growing need for innovative technology in the classroom. The grants strive to help public schools in rural areas served by OPASTCO members bring modern computers to every classroom, connect schools to the information superhighway and make sure that effective and engaging software and online resources are an integral part of the school curriculum. A total of $35,000 will be awarded to public schools nominated by OPASTCO telcos. Grants range from $1,000-$5,000. The application deadline is November 1, 2012.

More information is available at the EDWorks Facebook page, which can be found here.

Why would you want to miss this cost-saving opportunity?
If you haven’t signed up to receive a 15% discount on registration for the 15th Annual Michigan Charter School Conference now is the time to do it! All you need to do is complete the Early Bird Commitment Form by June 29 and you have the opportunity to attend this year's conference at the lowest possible price.

It's simple!

  1. Click here to get a copy of the Early Bird Commitment Form.
  2. Sign the form.
  3. Return it to MAPSA, and you have earned a 15% discount!

Contact conference@charterschools.org with any questions about the 15th Annual Michigan Charter School Conference. Visit charterschools.org/conference for more information!

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The Michigan Association of Public School Academies (MAPSA) has been the unified voice of the public charter school movement in Michigan since 1996. MAPSA represents over 119,000 students, 16,000 public school academy employees, dozens of authorizers and more than 50 education service providers working in 255 public charter schools in the state. MAPSA assists the state's public charter schools in their mission to deliver achievement, choice and accountability through our advocacy, communications, technical assistance and professional development services. For additional information, please visit www.charterschools.org

MAPSA
105 W. Allegan, Suite 300
Lansing, MI 48933
517.374.9167 p | 517.374.9197 f
www.charterschools.org

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