education

Up to 5% of Ann Arbor Public Schools students in the fall could be coming to the district from other school districts in Washtenaw County.  The school board Wednesday night voted unanimously to open 750 school of choice seats for out of district students. 

Superintendent Jeanice Swift says the jump in school of choice seats is one of several efforts to better fill the district's classrooms.

The district has increased the number of school of choice students attending in each of the last four years, but never has filled all of the available seats. 

To help fill the spaces this year the district is planning a marketing campaign and district officials hope having spaces in all grades except the last two years of high school will help attract families with multiple children.

School of choice applications will be accepted March third through April first.  From Friday through February 14th the district will accept applications for in-district school of choice for students who don't want to attend the school where they live.

Ann Arbor Public Schools will offer over 225 online classes to middle school and high school students this semester. 

The school board Wednesday night approved the district's virtual academy's catalog, and also approved opening ten seats in one algebra class to students from other districts. 

School board member Christine Stead says new state laws regarding online learning are yet another unfunded mandate, but the district is working to make the best of the changes.

District officials are hoping to learn a lot from offering the single algebra class to students from other districts.  They expect to have many more online classes available to students from other districts in the fall. 

Superintendent Jeanice Swift says with the uncertainties around new state laws about online classes every district in Michigan is facing similar challenges.

The deadline for registering for online classes this semester is January 22nd with classes starting one week later.

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Contemporary and classical ballet, modern dance, jazz and hip-hop will set the stage for “Visions: The 62nd Annual Faculty & Guest Artist Concert,” January 17 – 18, at 8 p.m. and January 19 at 2 p.m. at Eastern Michigan’s Quirk Theatre

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Eastern will open its doors and welcome undergraduate and working professionals who are interested in learning more about a higher education degree during a Graduate Open House, Saturday, Jan. 11. During the open house, graduate advisors will be poised to answer questions from 10 a.m. to noon at the Student Center Ballroom, located at 900 Oakwood, Ypsilanti.

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Off stage, Alejandra Escobar is calm and reserved, but when the Eastern Michigan University graduate student performs behind the piano, she displays the kind of passion and intensity that not only won the 2013 Graduate Student Music Competition, it earned her a spot on the EMU delegation to Wuhan University, China.

Patrik Holubik / WEMU

Problems that have forced the closure of Ypsilanti Community Schools the past couple of days have for the most part been resolved. 

Associate Superintendent Laura Lisiscki says only Ypsilanti Community Middle School - Willow Run Campus remains closed Friday as they wait for heating system parts to arrive. 

Lisiscki says district staff has been working around the clock to get buildings ready to re-open, with some staffers so focused on their work that they had to be ordered to go home and get some rest. 

Again, only Ypsilanti Community Middle School - Willow Run Campus is closed Friday in the Ypsilanti Community Schools district.

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Due to the continuing extreme weather conditions, Eastern Michigan University has canceled all classes Tuesday, Jan. 7. This includes all planned campus activities, lectures and events. The National Weather Service continues to report hazardous weather conditions and the coldest temperatures in 20 years in Michigan, including a wind chill warning and winter weather advisory for the Washtenaw County region. Wind chill temperatures in the region are forecast to reach 39 below on Tuesday. The University plans to be open on Wednesday, Jan. 8 for regular business and classes.

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Due to the extreme snowfall and cold temperatures for our region, Eastern Michigan University has announced the cancellation of all classes at Eastern Michigan University on Monday, Jan. 6. This includes all planned campus activities, lectures and events. Residence halls will remain open this evening and tomorrow to accommodate students who are still moving in and who have already arrived. The University plans to be open on Tuesday, Jan. 7 for regular business and classes.

Eastern Michigan University Police

Eastern Michigan University continues to increase efforts to promote safety on campus and off.


USDAgov / Foter.com / CC BY

Ann Arbor Public Schools next month will be looking at what changes are necessary to prepare the district for new federal guidelines on what food can be sold during the school day. 

The new rules begin July 1st. 

They require the first ingredient of any food sold in schools be a whole grain, fruit, vegetable, or protein. 

SEE ALSO: Ann Arbor Schools To Roll Out Enhanced Security Measures

 

School Board President Deb Mexicotte says the new rules will put some limits on what is available, but doesn't eliminate all snacks. Mexicotte adds, that it doesn't affect food brought to school by students or parents.  The new rules also end 30 minutes after the school day so concession stands at evening events don't have to adhere to the guidelines.

Mexicotte believes the school stores, vending machines and fundraising efforts will face the biggest challenge from the new rules.  She says Chartwells has been planning for the new requirements for some time so the food available in cafeterias should be able to meet the new rules.

AAPS

While students are out of the classroom for the winter break, Ann Arbor Public Schools Superintendent Jeanice Swift is working on a report from her  four months long Listen and Learn Tour. 

Swift attended about 90 meetings including one in every school in the district to get feedback on the common themes and patterns that are concerning the district.  Swift says her report should serve as a good outline of issues that the district needs to tackle.

Swift says she expects about a half dozen issues the district will be able to tackle immediately, while many others may take years to fully address. 

Swift says the Listen and Learn tour also served as a valuable way for her to get to know about the unique story behind each neighborhood school.

 — Andrew Cluley is a reporter and anchor for 89.1 WEMU News. Contact him at 734.487.3363 or email him aCluley@emich.edu.

 

Eastern Michigan University's Endowment has grown from about $36 million in 2009 to about $64 million  currently, the largest endowment in the school's history. 

Last year's return on investment was over 15-percent and they have averaged annual returns of over eight percent over the last 20 years. 

Laura Wilbanks is the Chief Financial Officer of the EMU foundation.  Wilbanks says in the last few years they've limited the costs and percentage of endowment spent annually on scholarships and other gifts.  She says the actual dollars spent from the endowment however can increase as the endowment grows. 

Wilbanks says the strong investment return is a result of aggressive investments in the stock market, limited exposure to alternative investments and being dilligent on rebalancing the portfolio.

EMU also successfully completed the Invest, Inspire Fundraising campaign a few years ago.

 — Andrew Cluley is a reporter and anchor for 89.1 WEMU News. Contact him at 734.487.3363 or email him aCluley@emich.edu.

Clay Enos

This week, Bob Eccles had the opportunity to interview movie producer and EMU grad Wesley Coller, who's giving the commencement speech this weekend at Eastern Michigan University. They discussed how Coller's educational journey led to a career in the arts.

Eastern Michigan University's winter Commencement ceremony takes place Saturday afternoon at the Convocation Center.

EMU's Director of Media Relations, Geoff Larcom  tells WEMU News that EMU's graduation numbers are up slightly from last year, when 1,715 students made the trek across the stage. More than 1,800 students are expected to graduate Saturday.

Larcom adds that the percentage of students graduating from Eastern has been in the high 30% range over the past ten years or so and that EMU has a graduation and retention program in place to help bring those numbers up.

AAPS

The Ann Arbor School Board hopes to find alternative options to make the district's high schools even better for a broader range of students.  A group of high school leaders have studied more than a half dozen programs including magnet schools, blended classes, new technology programs, and others.  They plan on presenting the school board with two or three concrete program ideas in January or February. 

School Board president Deb Mexicotte says they hope the upcoming election year could help make some additional high school options possible thanks to additional funding.

Superintendent Jeanice Swift says there are some common themes of more personalized learning approaches and choices in all of the programs reviewed.  She says the goal will be to find options that balance increased costs with attracting additional students.


The Ypsilanti-based Student Advocacy Center of Michigan wants the Ypsilanti Community Schools Board of Education to adopt a pledge to use student suspensions and expulsions only as a last resort. 

The "Solutions not Suspensions" pledge asks the state to roll back its discipline code so that it's in line with the federal Gun Free Schools Act.  It also asks districts to prioritize keeping kids in school and investing in preventative efforts. 

Bob Eccles

The Ypsilanti Community Schools Board of Education Monday night approved graduation requirements that include senior projects designed to pique students' interest in  what they might like to do after graduation. 

Board President David Bates says senior projects are a lot of work, both for the student and for the staff who assist them, but the effort is worthwhile.

Bates says it's a chance for seniors to show what they can do with an Ypsilanti Community Schools education.

Ypsilanti Community Schools graduation requirements also dictate that students earn 23 credits, including 4 Math and English credits and 3 Science and Social Studies credits. 

Staff who put the requirements together worked to find a "happy medium" that will allow seniors from the former Ypsilanti and Willow Run districts graduate.  Their previous requirements didn't match up perfectly.

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Effort includes special initiatives to improve outcomes for single parents and men of color

Drake.edu

Eastern Michigan University has named Chris Creighton as its head football coach. Creighton comes from Des Moines, Iowa's Drake University, where he led the Bulldogs as their head coach for the past six years. He becomes the 37th full-time head coach in EMU's 122-year history.

Courtesy photo / EMU Student Government

Eastern Michigan University's Student Government wants undocumented students living in Michigan to qualify for in-state tuition rates. 

Under the current system they must pay out-of-state rates that cost $15,500 more per year.

EMU Student Body President Desmond Miller says that's not fair.

The University of Michigan and Washtenaw Community College have already changed their policies to allow qualified undocumented students to pay in-state rates. 

EMU's Board of Regents plans to discuss loosening the qualifications for in-state tuition at tomorrow's meeting.

EMU Celebrates 'Giving Tuesday' Success

Dec 9, 2013

Eastern Michigan University says its Giving Tuesday fundraising effort was a resounding success. 

Tom Stevick is EMU's Vice-President for Advancement, and Executive Director of the EMU Foundation.  He says the university's first one-day fundraising event exceeded expectations.

Stevick says they were expecting to raise around $50,000 or $60,000, but ended up with more than $138,000. 

Money raised by EMU on Giving Tuesday will go to various scholarships and campus programs, plus the school's new Student Emergency Fund.

Tax Credits / Foter.com / CC BY

The Ypsilanti Community Schools Board of Education Monday night approved collecting school taxes in the summer rather than in the winter. 

Board President David Bates says summer tax collection is nothing new for district residents. The Ypsilanti and Willow Run districts had been collecting taxes in the summer prior to the consolidation.

Bates says summer tax collection means the district has to borrow less from the state while awaiting state aid payments, which in turn saves taxpayers money because the district is paying less in interest on money borrowed.

Michigan continues its slow and steady economic recovery. 

The annual economic forecast from University of Michigan economists predicts the next two years should bring the state back to employment levels prior to the economic downturn of 2008-09. 

Don Grimes points to the recovery of the auto industry as a big reason why Michigan's doing as well as it is.

The University of Michigan Medical Center will be conducting research on the effectiveness of video games and technology in creating more independence for young people with spinal cord dysfunction and neuro-developmental disabilities. 

The U of M Medical Center just got a $4.5 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Education's National Institute of Disability and Rehabilitation Research. It will be given over a five-year period, and will help launch U of M's Rehabilitation and Research Center. 

Bob Eccles

The Ypsilanti Community Schools Board of Education Monday night approved placing the question of whether to collect taxes in the summer rather than the winter on the agenda for its first meeting in December. 

Superintendent Scott Menzel says a summer collection is something the board approved seperately last year for the Ypsilanti and Willow Run school districts.

Menzel says there are benefits to a summer tax collection, including needing to borrow less money from the state to keep things going until the district's state aid payment is received.

The board also approved a one-month extension to interim Technology Director Matthew McCarty's contract. 

McCarty is leaving the district, and the extension will cover the period from November 1st through his last day with Ypsilanti Community Schools - December 6th. 

And the board had a budget presentation from CFO Scott Johnson, who pegged the district's estimated 2013-14 year-end fund balance at $7.3 million - about $300,000 less than budgeted.


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