West Michigan schools report influx in enrollment, impacting future school funding

Some West Michigan school districts reported losing more than 200 students this school year, while other schools said they gained a couple hundred.

Kalamazoo Public School leaders said preliminary numbers show 12,600 students are enrolled for the fall 2020, down 248 students from the 2019-2020 school year.

“In a year with so much uncertainty, I’m pleased that so many families continue to put their trust in Kalamazoo Public Schools,” Superintendent Rita Raichoudhuri said. “We cannot wait to see our nearly 13,000 students again in person.”

All Kalamazoo students are learning virtually at least until Nov. 24.

Portage Public Schools Superintendent Mark Bielang said the district has 8,644 students enrolled for fall 2020, a decrease of 269 students from 2019.

Portage students in kindergarten through fifth grade are learning in-person, with the option of learning virtually. Students in sixth grade and up are learning online, but face-to-face support is available.


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Gerber announces $36M expansion, plans 50 new jobs in Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Gerber plans to spend up to $36 million to expand production of freeze-dried snacks at its Fremont plant, a move that’s expected to create 50 jobs over two years.

a drawing of a person: In this 2017 file photo, 7-month-old A'Niah Hernandez sits next to a large inflatable Gerber baby logo during National Baby Food Festival in downtown Fremont. The company announced Tuesday that it plans to invest $36 million at the facility.

© Youngrae Kim/Youngrae Kim | MLive.com/mlive.com/TNS
In this 2017 file photo, 7-month-old A’Niah Hernandez sits next to a large inflatable Gerber baby logo during National Baby Food Festival in downtown Fremont. The company announced Tuesday that it plans to invest $36 million at the facility.

The baby food manufacturer says it will add freeze dryers and other machinery used to make the freeze-dried snacks, known as melts, which Gerber says is its fastest growing product.


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“We are thrilled to see the number of Gerber Fremont employees grow with the advancement of our Snack portfolio with melts,” Andrew Willis, Factory Manager at Gerber, said in a statement. “We take great pride being the home of Gerber,

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Amazon to hire 3,600 for new jobs in Michigan

Amazon.com Inc. said Monday it is looking to hire 3,600 people to fill new jobs in its warehouses and delivery stations across Michigan, part of 100,000 positions the company is seeking to fill across the United States and Canada.

The online retail giant’s need for permanent full- and part-time hires is a result of company growth, said Ofori Agboka, vice president of human resources for Global Customer Fulfillment at Amazon. There are currently 13,500 Amazon jobs in Michigan.

“Our business model is predicated on customer demand and our customers want their product,” he said. “And we’re fortunate and blessed to have this opportunity to be a job creator to employ people who are furloughed, laid off, military vets. Anybody that’s looking to do something different.”

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The Amazon Romulus Fulfillment Center. (Photo: Todd McInturf, The Detroit News)

The promise of new jobs comes as Michigan is struggling with the

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Michigan dedicates $24M in tuition-free aid to front-line workers

About 625,000 front-line workers are eligible for tuition-free college under a program created Thursday by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called Futures for Frontliners. 

The $24 million program financed through federal CARES Act funding will help people obtain technical certificates, associate degrees and bachelor degrees. Eligibility applies to Michigan residents who have worked in an essential industry outside their home from April to June and have not already gained an associate or bachelor’s degree. 

“These men and women have emerged as the real heroes in the midst of this pandemic,” Whitmer said during a Thursday news conference.

The program, the governor said, is the first of its kind and was inspired by the GI bill that provided free college tuition to veterans of World War II and beyond. People working in the medical field, manufacturing, sanitation, retail and grocery stores are among those who could qualify.

“Eighty percent of Michigan’s high-growth, high-wage

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Chris Evans’ road back to Michigan included three very different jobs

Michigan Wolverines running back Chris Evans was suspended for what would have been his senior season in 2019, but after a year off now finds himself in a spot where he finally can finish what he started at Michigan.

a football player is up to bat at a ball

© Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

When games resume still remains to be seen, but Evans is happy to be back after an academic issue and in an offense under Josh Gattis that feels a little more normal to him than before.

“I’m happy to be back. It was a tough year off that I had, mentally and everything,” Evans told the Michigan media on Friday afternoon. “This offense is more of like what I did when I was in high school, so I’d say it fits me a little better. Whatever offense, whatever plays that we run, whatever they are, if they fit me or not, I’ve gotta make it work.

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Biden Prioritizes U.S. Jobs, Products In Michigan Speech

MICHIGAN — A two-pronged plan that includes focusing on building and buying American-made products was the focus of a speech Wednesday by Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in Warren.

Speaking to a socially distanced crowd spread across a parking lot at the United Auto Workers Region 1 headquarters, Biden spoke of maintaining and creating jobs on American soil. He also said President Donald Trump has lied throughout his presidency about promises to prioritize American jobs.

“Donald Trump makes a lot of promises,” Biden said. “He promised that he alone could stop the offshoring jobs. He promised he’d bring back jobs (and) stop companies from leaving.

“He now hopes we don’t notice what he said and won’t remember.”

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See if your Michigan school district qualifies for some of the extra $65M in coronavirus funding

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last month announced she was directing $65 million in federal funding toward Michigan schools with more than 50% economically disadvantaged students and other education entities.

Of that $60 million goes toward school districts and the funding provides an extra $86.62 per student. The money comes from the Governor’s Education Emergency Relief Fund and is comprised of federal dollars allocated under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

So which schools are eligible for the funds? Data provided by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office shows 613 of the state’s 888 school districts qualify for the funding.

Find your traditional public school district on the map. Can’t see the map? Click here.

For charter schools, which are not included on the map, you can search this database:

The extra money can be used for things like facilitating remote learning, student mental health, addressing learning loss, training teachers on

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Whitmer Announces $65M In CARES Act Funding For Michigan Schools

MICHIGAN — Michigan school districts and other state education entities will receive $65 million in CARES Act funding to help as they battle the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Wednesday in a news conference.

The funding will be used to help close the digital divide as students begin learning virtually and from home. It’ll also go toward improving access to in-person mental health services, small group learning and child care.

“We’ve got to continue doing everything we can to protect our students and educators and support staff,” Whitmer said Wednesday. “And in order to do just that and ensure critical support for our schools, whether it’s helping them access PPE or cleaning supplies or helping students mitigate the impacts of learning loss in districts that need it most, funding will go to Michigan school districts and other education related entities that have been hit most

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Michigan announces $65M in CARES Act funding for schools amid coronavirus pandemic

Michigan is using $65 million in federal funding to support school districts that are most significantly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer made the announcement Monday about the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act dollars for schools. The money is for school districts, higher education institutions, and “other education-related entities that have been most significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the governor’s office.

The governor says the money is going to disadvantaged districts and will help address the digital divide that has served as a barrier to remote learning for students and educators across the state. The funding comes from the Governor’s Education Emergency Relief (GEER) Fund.   

“As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and approach the start of the new school year, we must continue doing everything we can to protect our students, educators, and support staff. This funding will help us

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Michigan Argues In Court Devos Pulled A ‘reverse Robin Hood’ On COVID-19 School Funding

Oral arguments took place Tuesday for a lawsuit led by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, with attorneys for the former arguing the latter’s requirement for K-12 public schools to split CARES Act relief funding with private schools is unlawful.

The CARES Act passed in March by Congress stipulates that public school districts share coronavirus relief funding with low-income students at private schools within the same district. In June, DeVos issued a rule that says aid can’t be restricted to only poor private school students — all are eligible.

“There is nothing in the law Congress passed that would allow districts to discriminate against children and teachers based on private school attendance and employment,” DeVos said of the rule.

But in July, Nessel brought litigation against DeVos, saying the rule diverts $16 million from Michigan public schools to private institutions in violation of Congress’ requirements, the

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