Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Dearborn Schools Millage Renewal on November Ballot, One-fifth of District’s Budget at Stake

Friday, October 10th, 2014

Dbn schools logoThe Dearborn Public Schools invites all community members to attend a special informational meeting on either Wednesday, October 15 or Monday, October 20.

The meetings to provide information about the Hold Harmless Millage RENEWAL on the ballot of the upcoming election will start at 7 p.m. and will be held in the Board Room at the school district’s Administrative Service Center, 18700 Audette, Dearborn, 48124.

The Hold Harmless Millage provides approximately $40 million of the district’s $180 million budget. It will expire in the spring of 2015. The district is asking residents to RENEW this millage for another 10 years. This is not an increase or new tax, only a RENEWAL of an existing millage.

The Hold Harmless millage was first approved by voters in 1995 then renewed in 2004. The millage is made up of two parts: 18 mills on business and commercial property, generating $27.8 million and 6.17 mills on homeowners, generating $11.5 million. Combined, the Hold Harmless Millage generates $39.3 million or 22 percent of the District’s total $178.7 million budget.

Dearborn Schools cannot afford to see this millage renewal fail. A 22 percent reduction in the budget would force the administration and Board of Education to make dramatic reductions across the spectrum of opportunities now offered to students. Services such as busing, programs such as art, music, and sports, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities and numerous elective classes would come under scrutiny and might need to be cut or drastically reduced.

Additional information can be found on a special Hold Harmless Renewal website HERE or by calling the Dearborn Public Schools Communications Office at 827-3006.

Voters Pass Dearborn School Bond; Dabaja Elected New Council President

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

Dearborn voters approved the Dearborn Public Schools’ $76 million S.M.A.R.T. School bond by a wide margin, 11,525 to 5,239. That means homeowners will continue to pay 5.35 mills. The bond will be used to fund security, modifications, additions to buildings, renovations, technology and transportation in Dearborn Schools.

Dearborn Mayor John B. O’Reilly, Jr. cruised to an easy win.

The Dearborn City Council will have two new faces, including a new council president.

Susan Dabaja was the top vote getter, beating Tommy Tafelski, the current council president, by a slim margin. Dabaja spent a lot on her campaign and put a lot of effort in going door-to-door and her hard work paid off.

The other new face on the council will be Mike Sareini, the son of former councilwoman Suzanne Sareini, who did not run for office.

The vote totals for the City Council look like this:

Susan A. Dabaja . . . . . . . . 9,398

Thomas Patrick Tafelski. . . . . . 9,366

Mike T. Sareini . . . . . . . . 8,723

Brian C. O’Donnell . . . . . . . 7,929

David W. Bazzy. . . . . . . . . 7,809

Robert Alex Abraham . . . . . . . 7,477

Mark C. Shooshanian . . . . . . . 7,407

 

 

Here are the rest of the results for the others who were unsuccessful in this year’s council race:

 

 

Patrick A Melton . . . . . . . . 7,021

Tarek M. Baydoun . . . . . . . . 6,280

Sharon Dulmage. . . . . . . . . 5,601

Kristyn Taylor. . . . . . . . . 5,315

Jane Ahern . . . . . . . . . . 5,225

Colette Richards . . . . . . . . 4,231

Stephen S. Dobkowski, Jr. . . . . . 3,551

 

Vote Yes Today for Dearborn School Bond

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

Dearborn School SMART BondThere will be several important ballot questions voters will have to decide on today when they head out to vote.

One of the most important is the Dearborn Public Schools’ $76 million S.M.A.R.T. School Bond, which will NOT increase the millage rate taxpayers currently pay. Homeowners are currently paying 5.35 mills, and that is what will continue if the bond is passed again.

The bond will be used to fund security, modifications, additions to buildings, renovations, technology and transportation in Dearborn Schools.

Voter approval of the bond is sorely needed to fill gaps created by state funding cuts, and decreasing property values even as costs for the district have continued to climb.

Over the past five years, the district has experienced an 8.1% reduction in funding from the state and an increase in the demands placed on its buildings. The S.M.A.R.T. School Bond will provide the funding to address security, aging inventory of buildings, computers, and an aging bus fleet.

In addition, safety and security will be integrated into the very fabric of every school with upgraded surveillance cameras, auto-lock doors, and a buzzer access system.

The average age of Dearborn Public School’s facilities is 58 years, with 21 of those facilities over 50 years old. Modifications to facilities are necessary in such areas as roofs, site, windows, furniture and equipment, lockers and flooring. Dearborn school officials say that every facility will receive modifications to ensure “the safety, accessibility, health and suitability of all learning environments for students and maximize the useful life of buildings.”

Additions are necessary at several schools to accommodate student enrollment growth of 2,060 students since 2000 and to allow curriculum flexibility.

If Dearborn students are going to compete in a global environment, it is critical for them to have the up-to-date technology tools to facilitate learning. In addition, on-line testing requirements by the State, impact the school district’s goals and needs for technology in the future.

So please remember to look for the Dearborn Public Schools S.M.A.R.T School Bond on the ballot today and vote YES!

Do American Public Schools Stink? Not So says Author

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

The biggest crisis facing public education is the relentless message that public education is in crisis, so says education historian Diane Ravitch in a new book that is out this week.

If you haven’t yet read the article about the book on politico.com, it is worth a read.

Ravitch argues that “corporate reformers” and “privatizers” have a vested interest in making it sound like teachers and schools are failing so they’ll be invited to run their own schools or sell educational technology at a profit.

It is an interesting thesis.  Here is the story on politico.com:

Do American public schools really stink? Maybe not

The drumbeat is hard to miss: Our schools are failing. Public education is in crisis. Our students are falling further and further behind.

The rhetoric comes from the left and right, from educators and politicians and lobbyists and CEOs and even Education Secretary Arne Duncan. The deep dysfunction of our public schools is said to threaten not only America’s economy but also its national security.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

 

August or November? School Board Seeks Opinion on Election Date

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Dbn schools logoThe Dearborn Board of Education is seeking community input in regards to placing a $76 million bond proposal on either the August 6, 2013 Primary Ballot or the November 5, 2013 General Election Ballot.

Anyone interested in sharing their opinion can take part in a quick and easy survey by visiting the district website, www.dearbornschools.org, and clicking on the link located on the home page. No personal information will be collected by the survey.

“Although this is a non-scientific poll it will provide the Board with one more way of gathering input from the community about the two election dates,” said Dearborn schools spokesman David Mustonen.

At the March 11, 2013 Board of Education meeting the administration presented a proposal for a $76 million bond that would provide funding for Security, Modifications, Additions, Remodeling, Technology, and Transportation. The bond is being called the S.M.A.R.T. Bond, an acronym for the projects included in the proposal.

The district has 19,100 students with more than 6,200 of them added during the last 26 consecutive years of enrollment gains. A need to provide additional security, increased student numbers, an aging inventory of buildings (35 total with 23 ranging from 50 to 90 years old), state required on-line testing, an aging fleet of buses, and an 8.1 percent decline in funding from the state over the last five years have all contributed to the need for the district to seek a voter approved bond.

Community members can find out more information, leave comments, ask questions, and engage in a constructive dialogue at a special website dedicated to providing information only on the 2013 S.M.A.R.T. Bond, by clicking HERE. 

A voter approved bond project would not increase the current 5.81 mill rate taxpayers are currently paying due to the retirement of existing bond debt.

Nominate Your Favorite Dearborn Teacher Today

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

Dbn schools logoIt is now easier than ever to nominate your favorite Dearborn Public Schools teacher to be selected as the 2012-13 Alberta Muirhead Teacher of the Year.

The new on-line entry form can be found by clicking HERE. Forms can also be downloaded at the same website or can be picked up at any Dearborn public school and the district’s Administration Office, 18700 Audette.

“We want to make the nomination process as simple as possible because we want to encourage all students to nominate their favorite teachers,” said Chamber Education Committee Chair Stefanie Stover.

The deadline for submitting nominations, either on-line or hard-copy, is Friday, April 12, 2013. Hard-copy nomination forms can be mailed to the Dearborn Chamber of Commerce, 22100 Michigan Avenue, Dearborn, MI 48124, or fax to (313) 584-9818. Adults may assist students when necessary but no more than two teachers can be nominated per student.

Students can nominate new or veteran teachers whom they feel have made outstanding contributions to the teaching profession. Preschool through fifth-grade students are asked to describe how their teacher has created a classroom where learning is positive and fun. Middle school students (grades 6-8) will need to explain how their teacher connects classroom learning with everyday life. Students in high school must describe how their teacher is preparing them to be successful beyond high school. Applications will be assessed on quality of the nomination, not on the number received. Award judges are members of the Dearborn Chamber Education Committee and are not provided with the teachers’ names.

One winner from elementary, middle and high school will be announced at a special ceremony, Wednesday, May 15, 2013, at the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center.

Teachers selected to receive the Teacher of Year Award are being recognized as positive role models who consistently provide unique, productive, positive classroom experiences. Teachers selected receive a $1,000 cash prize, a plaque commemorating their achievement, and will be part of a select group of Dearborn teachers who have been recognized by the community for their dedication and passion for teaching.

“The teachers in our classrooms are true professionals, dedicated to their craft and to the academic success of their students. This award is a great way for our student to honor and thank their teachers,” commented Dearborn Public Schools Supt. Brian Whiston.

Student Urges Dearborn School Start Time Change

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

School start times have been a contentious issue in Dearborn and now a petition is being circulated with the goal of pressuring the Dearborn School Board to consider rolling back the start time of high school students until after 8:15 a.m.

Fatima Shareef, a senior at Edsel Ford High School, penned the column below and makes a pretty compelling, commonsense argument regarding the sleep time needs of people between the ages of 11 – 22.

Opinions vary but early school start times are a medically proven detriment to health and education. We wrote about this very topic in 2009.

You can sign her petition HERE

Her column begins below.

By FATIMA SHAREEF

It’s a Monday morning. It’s dark outside, and your head is throbbing, but you force your melted eyes open to start getting prepared for the day and think to yourself, “why do I have to attend school so early?”

Last spring, the school administration offered to have our high school start time moved up, but at the expense of not offering transportation for 30 percent of students who ride the buses, 27 percent of students who play sports, and 9 percent of DCMST students.

For yet another year, we are left to deal with the consequences of starting school so early. Students are putting their heads down on the desks, dozing off, and not focusing on the lessons. This is not entirely due to waking up early in the morning, but it is a major factor that the failed plan could have easily eliminated.

Some people argue that going to bed early, reading a chapter of a book, and eating a healthy breakfast are all you need to wake up feeling refreshed and alive. The issue—for teenagers, anyway—is much more complicated than that.

According to the research done at Brown University by Mary Carskadon, for students between the ages 11 to 22, the brain chemical melatonin is distributed to the body at 11 p.m. and ends at 8 a.m. This means that unless students are going to sleep by 9 p.m., they will miss an entire cycle of rapid eye movement and remain sleepy all morning as a result.

Dr. Charles Czeiler, a professor of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School, says that when students don’t get an adequate amount of sleep, the sleep deprivation accumulates, and within a week, that deficiency is equivalent to being awake for 24 hours. He says that the deficiency also has the same impact as being legally drunk in terms of reaction time and other measures of performance.

Helena Thornton, a DHS parent and Edsel graduate, said, “I’m concerned about the fact that the data shows that the students are missing an entire REM sleep cycle with an average of seven hours sleep when studies show they need nine, and how sleep deprivation builds up over the week and has been shown to measurably affect performance comparable to being under the influence of substances.”

Recently, Ms. Thornton asked me to conduct a survey with students from our school about their sleep patterns. In my sample of 42 students from grades nine to twelve, the average amount of sleep that students get is 7.17 hours. Compared to the nine hours that we are supposed to get, the results are quite alarming.

I was also asked to survey them about their opinions on changing the school start time from 7:20 a.m. to 8:20 a.m. Only forty percent of them said yes. The others argued that they would like to be able to wake up a later time, but if it means that they have to stay after 2:15 p.m., then they would rather just wake up earlier and “get it over with.”

This careless attitude towards our learning is dangerous. Instead of thinking about which start-time plan gets us out of school the earliest, we should be supporting a plan that will make our learning experience as productive as possible. We are going to be in school for the same amount of time anyway, so we might as well make the best use of it. Any parent, student or community member who understands and supports this issue is asked to join in our communication to Dearborn Public Schools by signing the following petition: HERE

 

 

Dearborn School Supt. Speaks Against Legislation

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

The following is a guest column from Dearborn Schools Supt. Brian Whiston.

 

Supt. Brian Whiston

Dear community member,

– 26 consecutive years of increased enrollment

– Graduation rate up 6%

– Five schools in Dearborn recognized by the state as “Beating the Odds”

– Continuous improvement on local and state tests

– A five year program allowing students to graduate with both a high school diploma and a two year college degree at no cost to parents

– Students earning millions of dollars in scholarships each year

– Districtwide Response to Bullying and Positive Behavior programs ensure a safe learning environment

– Choices for students include magnet programs, Early College program, STEM program,

AP courses, and dual enrollment

Does this sound like a school district that needs to be overhauled, reformed, and taken-over by a state controlled board? I don’t think so, but obviously some legislators in Lansing do.

If two bills, HB 6004 and SB 1358, currently sitting before lawmakers in Lansing are passed in the next few weeks school districts in the state could face drastic change that will have a devastating impact on your child’s school.

These bills shift control away from local school board trustees that you elect and give a great deal of power to a single statewide school district known as the Education Achievement Authority (EAA) that is accountable only to a board appointed by the Governor, not elected by the people.

Even more troubling about these proposed changes is that the important job of educating children will be turned over to for-profit operators who can pick and choose the children they want to allow into their schools.

We are fortunate that our representatives in Lansing, Mr. George Darany, Mr. David Nathan, and Senator Morris Hood, understand how wrong these proposals are and they need our support. We need to contact our representatives in Lansing and let them know that HB6004 and SB1358 must not be approved. It is vitally important that we take action now to make sure these bills are not passed before the legislators leave for the year.

It is important to share your own personal concerns about this legislation. On our district website we have placed key points that you may want to include in your correspondence and we have provided names and addresses of our legislators. You can find out more information on this legislation by visiting HERE.

Despite the many challenges we face, our district has made a great deal of progress and has had plenty of student success. This success can be attributed to the hard work and dedication of our staff. I want to thank all of our staff members and our parents for making student achievement a priority and believing that each child can have academic success in our classrooms. We are also very fortunate to have a supportive and knowledgeable Board of Education that understands the needs of the children in our schools. I urge you to take action today and make sure that this legislation is not passed!

Blackburn, Lane Return to Dearborn School Board

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

It was a close race, but Dearborn voters returned two Dearborn School Board incumbents to the board.

Incumbent Aimee Blackburn (first elected in 2000 and serving her third term) and Mary Lane (serving her third term) were the top two vote-getters finishing with 17,868 votes and 15,678, respectively. The two will keep their seats for another two years.

Mary K. Petlichkoff, who threw her hat back in the race after being defeated in 2011, finished in third with 12,863 votes.

 

New Report Card for Dearborn Elementary Students

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

After four months of meetings, letter grades are out and numbers are in for elementary report cards for Dearborn students in kindergarten through grade five.

The switch, school officials say, comes after reviewing report cards from nine other districts, and considerable discussion the elementary report card committee, comprised of more than 40 teachers and administrators.

The goals of the committee were to create a report card that made understanding student performance easier, incorporate the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English Language Arts and math, and assign a grade-level for student performance in reading and math.

The first big change that parents will notice on the report card is the conversion from a letter grade to a number. The numbers on the report card correspond to the following: 1= Masters Expectations, 2= Meets Expectations, 3= Progressing, 4= Concern. A number will appear next to each Common Core State Standard listed on the report card to indicate a student’s performance in meeting that Standard.

The Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and math have been adopted by Michigan. More information on the Common Core can be found at www.corestandards.org.

A new item on the report card is the reporting of student performance on two different computer-administered assessments, one in reading and the other in math. These assessments provide an indication of the grade level the student is performing at in these two subject areas. For example a score on the reading assessment of 3.2 is equivalent to third grade second month. The same holds true for the math assessment.

The test given in reading is the Scholastic Reading Inventory or SRI reading assessment. The SRI may be given up to three times a year. Starmath is the math assessment tool and may be given up to four times a year. Students in kindergarten and first grade will not receive an SRI or Star Math score on the first report card.

The report card also includes a section titled Life Skills and the objectives change from kindergarten through grade five. In addition there is a notes and comments section at the end.

Parent feedback and input is a valuable part of any change to the report card. Parents interested in serving on this committee may contact Dr. Chochol, Associate Superintendent of Elementary Education at 827-3026 or email at chochoj@dearborn.k12.mi.us .

The report card grades represent a summary of what students have learned during the marking period. Report cards are used by teachers as a tool to help them direct their instruction so they can support areas of concern or challenge in areas of mastery. As always, the teacher is the best source of information about a student’s progress. Parent attendance at parent-teacher conferences and utilizing other forms of communication with their child’s teacher is vitally important in the team approach to ensuring student success.