SW Michigan Today: Friday, November 16

Nov 16, 2018

After years of declining enrollment, the number of students in the Kalamazoo Public Schools rose after the Kalamazoo Promise college scholarship program was announced in 2005. That’s according to a new report by the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. It says the biggest impact on enrollment is keeping families in the district. Senior Researcher Michelle Miller-Adams says the Promise and similar programs in other communities also attract new families. The report says they can also help improve school district performance by emphasizing a “college-going culture.” And Miller-Adams says that can make a community more attractive to new businesses.

The Kalamazoo Public Schools are putting books with more diverse characters into its classrooms. Kalamazoo Superintendent Michael Rice says 50 second-grade, and 50 third-grade classrooms will have the new books by next April. Rice says it’s important for children of color to see positive images of people like themselves in the books they read. “Not only do we want it to spur more reading, a greater quantity of reading, but also a greater quality of reading, and a greater sense of possibility for them in their lives.” Rice says KPS plans to give books to 300 kindergarten through fifth-grade classrooms by November 2019.

(Kalamazoo Gazette) The City of Portage may ban businesses that want to cater to Michigan's new recreational marijuana market, at least for now. Michigan voters approved the idea November 6. But that same night, Portage City Council members discussed the proposed ban. They're expected to vote on it November 20. City officials say a temporary moratorium would give them time to develop zoning ordinances and other regulations. Portage already has ordinances allowing medical marijuana businesses. Meanwhile, Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting says he plans to dismiss hundreds of marijuana-related cases after the approval of Proposal 1.

(Kalamazoo Gazette) Immigration activists want Kalamazoo County to stop holding people at its jail after their sentences are up. The practice of holding undocumented inmates until federal agencies pick them up came under fire again this week. At a public forum on Wednesday, November 14, several groups asked Sheriff Rick Fuller to stop agreeing to so-called "ICE detainers." Fuller wouldn't comment after the meeting. This week the City of Kalamazoo passed on a new federal grant because it would force its officers to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Kalamazoo College has a new provost. Danette Ifert Johnson comes to Kalamazoo from New York State, where she was vice-provost at Ithaca College. She replaces former "K" provost Michael McDonald, who's now president of the Great Lakes Colleges Association. Kalamazoo College President Jorge Gonzalez says Johnson has a long record as a teacher and scholar as well as experience in academic administration.

(Kalamazoo Gazette) Two new hotels are on their way to downtown Kalamazoo. Documents filed with the city have details about the Hilton Garden Inn project. The $43-million plan by PlazaCorp would turn the Rose Street Market building and a parking lot next door into a 118-room "boutique" hotel. The development will also include a 107- room "extended-stay" hotel. Construction is scheduled to start early next year. PlazaCorp says the project will create more than 500 full- and part-time jobs.

(Gongwer News Service) People on Medicaid in Michigan could soon pay less for prescription drugs. The federal government has approved the state's plan to link drug prices with how effective they are. That means drug companies would get less from Medicaid for new and expensive drugs if they don't deliver promised benefits. Michigan is only the second state to get federal approval to base drug prices on patient outcomes. The approval Wednesday is retroactive to September 30th.

(Detroit Free Press) Two state senators who voted for a new campaign finance bill may have violated ethics rules. The issue involves a bill that would allow senators to move leftover money from old State House campaign committees to Senate campaign funds. That could net Republicans Jack Brandenburg and Jim Marleau a total of $92,000. Senate ethics rules ban lawmakers from voting on bills that could benefit them financially. Only two Republicans, including Senator Tonya Schuitmaker of Lawton, joined Senate Democrats in voting against the bill that now goes to the State House.

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