NMU Board Approves Three Charter Schools

MARQUETTE, Mich.–The NMU Board of Trustees approved charters and start-up boards for three schools in lower Michigan, effective July 1. This brings the total number of NMU charter schools to 10.

Both the Frances Reh Academy in Saginaw and the George Crockett Academy in inner-city Detroit are K-8 facilities and were formally chartered by Ferris State University. When their contracts with FSU came up for reauthorization, they explored a new option with NMU and completed an intensive application process. Universal Leadership Academy in Port Huron is managed by Bold Education Connections and the Romine Group. It will start as K-5 and progress to K-8.

“After the initial five-year agreement, we may look at a high school at Universal Leadership Academy as well,” said Bill Pistulka, NMU’s charter schools officer. “Within the next charter, we will also be looking at the addition of a high school at Frances Reh, which is currently managed by the Leona Group. That will be an ongoing discussion.”

In 2011, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder approved a bill that gradually lifted the cap on the number of charter schools authorized by public universities. The bill also removed the single-site restriction, which allowed schools with a waiting list to have additional grades on another site with the same board in place. NMU remains a relatively small authorizer compared with Central Michigan University and Grand Valley State, for example. Both oversee more than 50 charter schools.

NMU charters three Upper Peninsula schools: Bahweting Anishnabe in Sault Ste. Marie, Nah Tah Wahsh in Hannahville and North Star Academy in Marquette. Lower Peninsula charter schools are Burton Glen in Burton, Walton in Pontiac, South Pointe Scholars Charter Academy in Ypsilanti and Experiencia Preparatory Academy in Detroit.

“We have looked at this from a mission-specific perspective as we determine the growth of charter schools at NMU,” Pistulka added. “If you look at those we have chartered, they are in high-need areas with low-performing traditional schools. Rather than take the traditional system out of place, the charter schools offer a competitive balance intended to provide families with a choice and improve academic performance.”

Pistulka emphasized that charter schools are public and non-profit. NMU receives 3 percent of the $7,100 per-pupil state funding rate as the chartering university.

In other action at today’s meeting, the NMU Board:

▪Authorized the purchase of the mBank building, property and contents located at 1400 Presque Isle Ave., at a cost of $425,000 plus related expenses.

▪Approved the wage and benefit reopener for the negotiated agreement between NMU and its American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employee’s union (AFL-CIO), Local 1094, which runs through Sept. 30. AFSCME employees will receive a 1.75 percent across-the-board increase for the current year and a $450 university contribution to individual health reimbursement accounts.

▪Agreed that the College of Professional Studies’ name be changed to the College of Health Sciences and Professional Studies and that the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation name be changed to the School of Health and Human Performance.

▪Received an update on the presidential search. Since the search firm representative made a two-day visit to NMU in early November to gather feedback from campus constituencies, the position has been posted and a website launched (www.nmu.edu/presidentialsearch). The search firm representative will recruit and receive applications for candidates and the search committee will reconvene in early February.

▪Granted Professor Emeritus status to retired psychology faculty members Sheila Burns and Charles Leith.

▪Agreed to the following revised meeting schedule for calendar year 2014: Feb. 13-14 retreat; May 1-2; July 17-18; Sept. 25-26; and Dec. 11-12.

▪Appointed board standing committees. Academic will be composed of Chair Thomas Zurbuchen, Steven Mitchell and L. Garnet Lewis. Finance will be composed of Chair Stephen Gulis, Stephen Adamini and Gil Ziegler. Executive will include Chair L. Garnet Lewis, Sook Wilkinson and Stephen Gulis.

▪Approved the following board appointments for Experiencia Preparatory Academy: Irma Martinez, term expires June 30; Rebecca Szetela, expires June 30, 2017.

▪Accepted gifts valued at $4,800.

▪Recognized L. Garnet Lewis for her service as board chair over the past year. She will continue to serve on the board until her term expires Dec. 31, 2016.