LANSING (AP) – Michigan would get more charter schools and the Detroit Public Schools would have an elected school board under a deal reached between Republican legislative leaders and Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a spokesman for House Speaker Rick Johnson said yesterday.

The deal between Johnson, Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema and the governor would allow universities to open 150 charter schools in addition to the 150 they’re already allowed, Johnson spokesman Matt Resch said.

Universities would be prohibited from opening more than two new charter schools a year in one school district, Resch said.

The agreement also would restore an elected school board for the Detroit Public Schools, which has had an appointed reform board since 1999. When an elected board is in place, the mayor will have the authority to approve or disapprove the board’s pick for a chief executive officer, Resch said.

It was unclear when the board would go back to being elected, Resch said.

Most GOP lawmakers have long wanted to raise the cap on university-approved charter schools. But opponents have said the bills proposed so far didn’t have enough accountability for charter schools. Charter schools receive public money, but most in Michigan have been run by private management groups.

Charter schools are public schools that receive state aid but have more flexibility to develop curricula and teaching methods than traditional public schools.

Sikkema, of Wyoming, is happy with the compromise, spokesman Bill Nowling said.

“Our main goal was to raise the cap on charter schools, and we’ve done that,” Nowling said.

The agreement comes less than a week before Granholm had to decide whether to veto a bill that would have allowed 15 new charter high schools in Detroit, but not additional charter schools authorized by universities.

The governor’s office remained coy when asked if there was an agreement, saying yesterday that the governor still has to talk to Democrats in the House and Senate about the deal.

House Democrats had not seen details of the agreement as of yesterday, spokesman Mark Fisk said.

Of the new charter schools allowed under the deal, 25 would have to be high schools, with 10 located anywhere in the state. Fifteen would be opened in Detroit and paid for by $200 million from the Thompson-McCully Foundation.

“I’m especially happy that opponents of reform did not succeed in turning Michigan’s back on an amazing and historic gift from Mr. Thompson,” Johnson, of LeRoy, said about the donation from philanthropist Bob Thompson’s foundation.

The deal would allow school districts with declining enrollments to receive a one-time payout from the state – up to $15 million – if a charter school opens in their boundaries, Resch said. The money is intended to allow districts to recover money lost because state funding follows students, he said.

The agreement also would limit the number of charter schools opened by Bay Mills Community College, which now can open charter schools anywhere in Michigan except Detroit because it serves American Indians across the state. The college plans to open nine charter schools across the state this fall.

The Upper Peninsula tribal community college would be placed under the same cap as universities under the deal.

The state now has 202 charter schools attended by more than 70,000 students this fall, according to the Michigan Association of Public School Academies.

The Senate was expected to take back the bill dealing with the Detroit charter schools that it sent to Granholm, Nowling said. It was unclear Tuesday whether the Senate would change that bill to include the agreement or draft new legislation.








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