Week in Review: Schools Privatizing and More
Here's a recap of the biggest stories in West Bloomfield during the week of April 29-May 5.
A lot happened this past week, and we want to make sure you didn't miss a thing. Here are some of the biggest stories:
As the student population of the West Bloomfield School District drops, the Board of Education responded by cutting back on the maximum number of students allowed in the Schools of Choice lottery.
The lottery for the 2012-13 school year took place Wednesday and 175 students out of about 225 applications were selected.
The district enrolled 226 students in grades K-3 through the Schools of Choice program in 2011-12 and the board voted unanimously to cut back to 175 in grades K-2 for 2012-13, a decrease of 22.5 percent, at Monday's meeting at West Bloomfield High School. Students currently enrolled through the program are unaffected.
Three West Bloomfield men accused ofattacking a black man in a racially motivated beatdown had their felony charges dismissed Thursday.
Fariss Shayota, 21, Naseem Shayota, 29, and Savio Yaldo, 21, all of West Bloomfield, will return to court for a jury trial on misdemeanor assault charges after 48th District Court Judge Marc Barron refused to bind the matter over to Circuit Court.
"I think it was an obvious decision," said Mark Bilkovic, Yaldo's attorney. "I give credit to the judge for putting an end to this runaway train."
Bilkovic said that the judge found the victim, Steve Harris, 25, of Farmington Hills, to be a "not credible witness" in part due to a rarely-seen situation in which the prosecution took the witness stand for the defense on April 20.
On an issue in which there were "no winners," the West Bloomfield School Board of Education voted 7-0 Monday night to outsource transportation and custodial services beginning in the fall.
It's a move that will save the district almost $6 million over the next three years and in a time when the district is facing difficulties with budget cuts in non-instructional school services from Lansing, one that board members said was necessary.
It was a vote wrapped in emotion: Board members and a crowd of about 100 people listened for almost an hour as transportation employees pleaded with the board to keep their jobs.
"There are no winners in this situation, regardless of what happens tonight," said Superintendent JoAnn Andrees. "I can't stress enough how appreciative this district is of the savings that (transportation and custodial services) has given us over the years."
Orchard Lake Middle School teacher Jenny Birmelin, the first and only Michigan woman to successfully swim the English Channel, will fulfill a lifelong dream of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at a Detroit Tigers home game May 6 against the Chicago White Sox.
“This is truly an honor. I can’t wait," said Birmelin, 34. "My dad and I would go to Tigers games when I was a kid. I always took my glove and scored the game in my program. I still have a ball signed by the 1987 team.”
Birmelin set the record as the fastest American to swim English Channel in 2011. She swam the equivalent of 28 land miles in a time of 11 hours, 21 minutes. During her swim, she battled 58-degree salt water wearing only a swimsuit, goggles and regular swim cap and shared the waterway with jellyfish and large cargo ships. For more, visit JennyBirmelin.com.
West Bloomfield is scheduled to become a destination Sunday for flag-waving activists in support of Israel during the annual Walk for Israel event.
Walk for Israel takes place to coincide with Israel's independence day, which was April 26 this year, and includes a Kosher lunch as well as a line of speakers and activities for children.
“I love seeing people that come out to support Israel. It puts a smile on my face,” said Omer Oppenheim, a senior at Frankel Jewish Academy in West Bloomfield, at last year's event. “We’re going walking ... because Israel is a cause that is important to all of us.”
The event will begin at 10 a.m. May 6 at Temple Shir Shalom, 3999 Walnut Lake Rd., West Bloomfield. A free Kosher lunch will occur at 12 noon followed by the 1 p.m. walk. Admission is free. Shuttle service and parking will be available. To learn more, visit walkforisrael.org.