A resolution unanimously adopted and certified Monday by city council opposing the Schools of Choice mandate as outlined by Gov. Rick Snyder will be sent to his office this week.
The intent with passing a resolution to oppose the proposed plan as one of Snyder's many measures to reform education is to send the message of opposition early, Mayor Robert Novitke said.
Superintendent C. Suzanne Klein attended Monday's council meeting along with two women spearheading a grassroots group trying to oppose the mandate, Katharine Barr and Lynn Jacobs.
The women are both Grosse Pointers who are not necessarily against Schools of Choice as it is used now. Currently school districts are able to opt in or opt out and, if they opt in, they determine the parameters of how it will be used in their district.
The group they are spearheading, Michigan Communities for Local Control, is aiming to take action against the movement in Lansing and is trying to garner support from schools across the state--both those that participate in Schools of Choice currently and those that do not, they said.
Gaining support from the local governments is important as well, they said, explaining how pleased they are that the Woods passed the resolution.
Novitke emphasized how important he believes it is for the communty to maintain control over its schools, noting the spending differences per pupil in the Grosse Pointe Schools as well as the amount of fundraising and other efforts by residents to benefit the students.
"I want Lansing to know right away," Novitke said.
He noted the response he received about the , which was that it was submitted too late.
The division of the state house districts was officially opposed by all of the Grosse Pointes and Harper Woods as well as by local political party leaders and residents. Despite numerous requests for the bill calling for the division to be vetoed the . The entire redistricting bill process was speedier than the usual schedule, according to Rep. Tim Bledsoe (D-Grosse Pointe), who questioned why it was being rushed through the system.
The handling of that particular bill is in part why the Michigan Communities for Local Control group is trying to take action rather than waiting until a bill surfaces, Barr said.
She questions the timing of the bill, which she was told by a legislative assistant from Sen. Phil Pavlov's (R-St. Clair Township) office could be introduced to the Senate Education Committee as early as Sept. 7--the same day most Michigan children will start the next school year. She described the decision to divide the house districts as a "middle of the night decision" and believes implementing Schools of Choice will further dilute the voice of the Grosse Pointes.
The fight, Barr said, is for all schools--not just those who do not participate in Schools of Choice. Of course the group is gaining momentum and support from those districts that have not opted into the program but their focus is maintaining local control even for those are currently using Schools of Choice, Barr said. Those districts want to maintain the control they have over implementing it, such as determining capacity, determing eligibility, determining enrollment timeframes and more, she said.
Novitke said in preparation for the meeting, he had contacted the mayors from Grosse Pointe Park, Grosse Pointe Farms and the City of Grosse Pointe--all of whom he said agreed with the resolution. He is still planning to contact the mayors of Grosse Pointe Shores and Harper Woods, he said.
Meanwhile, Bledsoe has . Although it's not often, public hearings are sometimes held away from Lansing when a particular topic is likely to impact a specific community, Bledsoe previously told Patch.
Patch is awaiting a return phone call from Pavlov's office regarding the invitation and more information about the formation of a draft of the bill.
Bledsoe is also holding Aug. 22 to discuss Schools of Choice with constiuents.