School Choice & Charters

State Journal

October 10, 2001 1 min read

Surprising Support

Superintendent Jerome M. Skarbek still isn’t sure why his tiny southwestern Michigan district lost about 60 students last summer. But he knew that the reduced enrollment—worth about $250,000 this year in state aid—could shut down his two schools.

So in July, the former school business officer did the only thing he could think of: He consulted the law. As it turned out, the state statute that taketh away also giveth back.

Michigan’s 1996 measure that allows students to attend public schools outside their districts without paying tuition also protects districts that suffer sharp drops in enrollment because of those choices. Districts with more than a 10 percent enrollment loss get state aid for 90 percent of the public school students who live there, regardless of where they go to school.

To Mr. Skarbek’s 320-student Galien Township district, that is likely to mean more than $1 million in back and current payments.

“When I discovered that sentence [in the law], all the hair follicles just went up,” the superintendent said.

When Mr. Skarbek brought the provision to the attention of state officials, they said they’d pay up. “We’ve known we needed eventually to do a computer program that would check for the situation, but we thought it would be a surprise” if any district actually qualified, said Elaine Madigan Mills, who directs state aid for the Michigan Department of Education. Six other districts are due smaller sums of money than Galien will get, officials found.

Meanwhile, Mr. Skarbek is planning to bolster his budget—this year set at about $2.9 millionfirst, by raising salaries, then by upgrading facilities and curriculum.

“This may be our last, best chance of making something good happen,” he said, “and I don’t want to blow it.”

—Bess Keller

Related Tags:


Classroom Technology Webinar Making Big Technology Decisions: Advice for District Leaders, Principals, and Teachers
Educators at all levels make decisions that can have a huge impact on students. That’s especially true when it comes to the use of technology, which was activated like never before to help students learn
Professional Development Webinar Expand Digital Learning by Expanding Teacher Training
This discussion will examine how things have changed and offer guidance on smart, cost-effective ways to expand digital learning efforts and train teachers to maximize the use of new technologies for learning.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
The Social-Emotional Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on American Schoolchildren
Hear new findings from an analysis of our 300 million student survey responses along with district leaders on new trends in student SEL.
Content provided by Panorama

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Choice & Charters How the Pandemic Helped Fuel the Private School Choice Movement
State lawmakers got a new talking point as they pushed to create and expand programs to send students to private schools.
8 min read
Collage showing two boys in classroom during pandemic wearing masks with cropped photo of feet and arrows going in different directions.
Collage by Gina Tomko/EducationWeek (Images: Getty)
School Choice & Charters Opinion Taking Stock After 30 Years of Charter Schools
Rick Hess speaks with Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, on charter schools turning 30.
8 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School Choice & Charters In Fight Over Millions of Dollars for Charter Schools, a Marijuana Tax May Bring Peace
The Oklahoma State Board of Education voted unanimously to rescind a polarizing lawsuit settlement, pending certain stipulations.
Nuria Martinez-Keel, The Oklahoman
3 min read
Money bills cash funds close up Getty
School Choice & Charters Full-Time Virtual Schools: Still Growing, Still Struggling, Still Resisting Oversight
Nearly 500,000 students now attend full-time online and blended schools, says a new report from the National Education Policy Center.
6 min read
Student attending class from a remote location.