Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

April 6, 2013

Lawmaker doubts part of school takeover bill

LANSING (AP) — A key state senator is skeptical of House legislation that would give the state control over more of Michigan’s worst schools, questioning a last-minute provision he said could delay help for students in failing schools.

Senate Education Committee Chairman Phil Pavlov, R- St. Clair, said he has concerns with a proposal to allow intermediate school districts to step in to run schools instead of a state authority. ISDs are service agencies that help regular districts with special education and career and technical education programs. They also help districts to cut costs through shared functions, and assist with enrollment audits, teacher training and student assessment tests.

“I’ve never seen ISDs associated with running schools. This is a new concept,” Pavlov told The Associated Press in a phone interview this week. “It isn’t part of an ISD’s mission.”

A measure that won narrow approval in the GOP-led House two weeks ago and is pending in the Senate would let the school board for a low-performing school at risk of being taken over by the state’s Education Achievement Authority ask the local intermediate school district to step in instead.

The ISD, governed by a board chosen by local school boards, would have 30 days to decide if it will intervene. Doing so would allow the ISD to cancel labor contracts with teachers, call for 210 school days a year instead of 180 days like in other Michigan schools and enforce longer school days — the same powers granted in the case of state intervention.

Pavlov said including county-level districts in the turnaround of bad schools could be “potentially viewed as a delay.”

“Adding another level of bureaucracy to something that stops the real repair from taking place, I need to be more informed on how that is going to be helpful,” he said.

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