Source: Sherman Publications

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$300,000 awarded to district

by Lance Farrell

September 19, 2012

For complying with best practices, the state of Michigan has awarded Lake Orion Schools $300,000.

The so-called "best practices" were created by Michigan legislators. By meeting seven of the eight criteria, Lake Orion Schools will receive a one-time grant of $52 per district student. At nearly 7,700 students, this equates to about $300,000 over the next eleven months. The school's foundation allowance per student will not be affected.

To meet the state's best practices guidelines, Lake Orion Schools agrees to comply with the following:

•The district agrees to be the designated policy holder for employee medical benefits.

•obtain at least one competitive bid for non instructional services.

•submit a plan indicating the district is making progress toward implementing online academic assessments.

•support opportunities for students to earn post-secondary credit while enrolled at LOHS.

•offer online instructional or blended learning programs.

•provide a link on the district website to the state school data portal containing pertinent district academic performance data.

•provide a Health education curriculum in accord with the State's comprehensive health education policy.

Many of these best practices are already in effect, Fitzgerald made clear, though some measures have been modified to reflect the specific situation the school faces this year.

For instance, as readers familiar with the recent decision to privatize ground and custodial services will remember, the competitive bid requirement for non-instructional services is not new to the district. The specific vendor referenced in the resolution is new.

Likewise, post-secondary credit is new to the resolution, but dual enrollment has been available to Lake Orion students for some while now.

The online assessment practice indicated in number three above, however, is new to Lake Orion this year. Students can expect subject-specific online testing capabilities to begin by 2014-2015.

The eighth best practice not adopted by the district pertains to open enrollment, or school-of-choice. The district is "not prepared to go that route at this time," Fitzgerald said.

In return for putting these measures into practice, the district will receive about $300,000 in addition to the $7,832 per-pupil funds provided to the district from public funds. This money, as it's a one-time grant Fitzgerald said, will likely be "assigned to projects that are one-time in nature,( such as) an energy upgrade project . . . to improve our operating efficiency"

Benefits to the district extend beyond the one-time cash infusion, however. "Because it codifies and incentivizes (projects) that may have been on a different timeline," Fitzgerald explained, the best practices grant "incentivizes us to speed things up."

Fitzgerald said the one-time grant money helps board members who may have been sitting on the fence in regard to a particular item be able to say "all right, let's do it! or lets do it now rather than waiting four months to launch"

For more information about the best practices measures adopted by Lake Orion Schools please call John Fitzgerald at 248-693-5414.