FRIDAY, Feb. 10 — A roundup of news from around the state, provided by our partners at Capital News Service. Follow the links for the full stories.
Women’s advocates fear loss of federal anti-violence grants: Gov. Snyder’s latest budget proposal includes $4.3 million in state-administered federal grants toward preventing gender violence, but some local nonprofits are worried about losing support under the Trump administration. Many organizations are most concerned about losing the STOP Violence Against Women Formula Grant Program, which allows nonprofits to hire advocates to provide courtroom support for victims in both civil and criminal cases.
Educators hope DeVos lets states and districts run schools: Newly confirmed Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has said she wants to return more power to the states. Education officials in Michigan offer their support for this shift, as they say Michigan’s education woes are partly a product of unnecessary federal intervention. They believe state educators know what’s best for Michigan’s schoolchildren, and can achieve higher educational success than the federal government.
National Park Service monitors disturbances in Northwest Michigan, UP: The National Park Service is collecting data and monitoring disturbances such as fires, blowdowns and timber harvesting in Upper Midwest national parks – including Sleeping Bear Dunes, Isle Royale and Pictured Rocks – to assess their impact on the landscape. The findings are intended to help the agency better manage these public lands. National Park Service experts explain the project.
Tough choice: Fight insect invaders or protect pollinators: Elected officials, entomologists and agriculture specialists are split over proposals to ban a powerful type of insecticide that can attack the emerald ash borer, a highly damaging invasive beetle, but is harmful to the honeybees essential for pollinating crops. The science remains unsettled. A Saline legislator’s proposed ban didn’t pass last year.
Could saint candidate be a miracle for UP tourism?: On a hill overlooking U.S. 41, between L’Anse and Baraga, is the towering statue of a man who could become a saint. Frederic Baraga, Michigan’s famous “Snowshoe Priest,” traveled the Great Lakes region in the 1800s spreading the Gospel. He later became the first bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Marquette. Today efforts are underway to determine if his many works make him worthy of sainthood. If granted, sainthood could be years away. But religious pilgrims and curious tourists already flock to the priest’s statue, his final resting place and to other Baraga sites.
Bill would help pay teachers’ student loans to ease shortages: A Westland legislator has introduced a bill to create a teacher shortage prevention program. Teachers who have eligible educational loans would be able to apply for a grant up to $1,000 for five consecutive years. The bill is designed to attract and retain educators in teacher shortage academic areas like math. At the same time, the Michigan Department of Education released a set of plans to make Michigan a top 10 education state. One of the goals is to identify teacher shortages and work with potential partners.
Snyder’s education budget good, not great, educators say: State Superintendent Brian Whiston praised Gov. Snyder’s proposed budget, but some local school districts see room for improvement. The proposed budget will continue to allocate extra money to the lowest-funded school districts, like Grand Rapids, to reduce the equity gap between those districts and wealthier ones. All high school students will also be allocated an additional $50 in per pupil spending, no matter what category their district falls in. In Grand Rapids, Snyder’s budget will provide what Grand Rapids schools’ director of communications John Helmholdt said is “barely a 1 percent increase” that won’t cover the cost of inflation. Marquette Area Public Schools superintendent Bill Saunders said the increase those schools would see isn’t able to cover increasing utility bills, wages and rises in insurance, let alone educational advancement.