Michigan State Superintendent Mike Flanagan recommended consolidating many functions of the over 500 local school districts into the responsibility of the 57 Intermediate School Districts (ISD) in the state. In a two-page letter addressed to both the House (Howard Walker, R) and Senate (Bill Rogers , R) chairmen of the Appropriations Subcommittees on K-12 Education, Flanagan reaffirmed a statement he made to the subcommittee stating, “If it was my decision– I would change over to county-wide school districts.”
Pointing out that he believes countywide school districts work in other states, Flanagan cited three Florida school districts as having a cost per pupil of around $6,800. According to Michigan Department of Education “Fast Facts” for 2012-1013, the average state aid per pupil in Michigan is $7,345.
Acknowledging that proposing a transition to countywide school districts would bring out many forces “supporting and defending the status quo”, Flanagan proposed a “hybrid system” whereby specific administrative functions would be mandatorily centralized at the county or regional level. The letter lists some of these functions, including transportation systems, curriculum development, school food service, and staff training and development, among others. Under this plan, local school districts would be required to purchase these services from the ISD at cost and if an ISD could not take on the responsibility, it would be merged with another ISD that could.
Flanagan’s system is “hybrid” because he says local school districts will still exist, as would local school boards and administrators. This approach would allow the local district to focus on educator evaluation and higher student achievement. He also estimates that this plan “would save millions of dollars minimally” and notes that he “would want to ensure that all cost savings would go back to the classroom.”
Flanagan ended the letter by stating “Michigan Department of Education stands ready to work with you over the remainder of the summer on the needed legislation to develop this hybrid system and ensure adequate and efficient services not only to the students and communities, but also to the individual school districts themselves.” He also listed several state and federal satutes that would need to be addressed to implement his plan.
If implemented, Flanagan suggested writing legislation to allow up to five years for the full transition.
Contact and listen to Nathan at his website, www.nathannephew.com.