Citizens For A Better Norwood

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Overview of last night’s COW/BOE meeting

Several of our regular readers/contributors attended last night’s meeting, too. We’re hoping they will add comments, especially if we misunderstood anything or leave out anything substantial. There weren’t any microphones, so sometimes it was difficult to impossible to hear what was said.

Supt. Steve Collier made opening remarks about both agenda items. First, he said the school district needs to “do something before 2010.” The options are 1.) a levy, 2.) serious cuts, which would impact educational programs and class sizes, and 3.) close a building. Regarding the latter, the BOE wants to make a decision soon on whether or not to close a school for the 2009-2010 school. As we understood it, it’s possible a school won’t be closed until the following year, if at all.

Next, Mr. Collier shared how the Kalamazoo Promise works:
All high school students who graduate receive free college educations at Michigan’s state colleges and universities. There are no daily attendance requirements, and things like school suspensions are not taken into account. Three other cities have adopted variations on the KP, and at least one of them, Denver, placed requirements because their donors wanted them. One variation that Norwood might consider is giving maximum benefits to students who attend K-12 at NCS and something less for students who attend 6-12 grades only.

Councilperson Sanker asked Mr. Collier how many Norwood students might qualify. Currently, there are about 140 NSC grads per year and about 60% of these go to college. Using the cost of U.C. as an example, Mr. Collier said the cost for a Norwood Promise that would be identical to the K.P. would be $1.1 million for each year in donations. A foundation would be set up to receive and allocate funds.

We believe Mr. Collier said the K.P. started in 2005. The benefits to the Kalamazoo community thus far are increased population and increased property values in a region of Michigan that is experiencing lowering property values. He emphasized that a Norwood Promise would have more clout if the City and NCS team up. Judging from council members’ positive remarks, a partnership sounds possible.

So what’s next? Mr. Collier said the school district needs to put together a presentation for corporations they would approach for donations. School officials will start attending Keith Moore’s Wednesday afternoon Community Development meetings to get up to speed on what’s going on that front. And there was agreement that there should be future joint meetings to discuss the topic.