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What's new during the first week of school?

Many Michigan students finished up their first week of school today. While younger kids might see just another year of quizzes and tests, their parents are taking note of the effects of budget cuts and other administrative changes. We visited local schools to ask parents how things have changed this year.

A group of parents waiting with their kids at at the bus stop for Bach Elementary in Ann Arbor said things are improving, especially class sizes.

"Our son's classes have always been really large, 27, 28, and this year they split his grade into three, so he has a class of 20, which is a great improvement," said John Swerdlow.

Tracy Beason agrees.  She and her husband had actually been talking about  private school if things didn't get better.

 "My son was struggling just getting teacher time.  A class of 30 is beyond ridiculous," she said.

Kristen Hug thinks state funding for K-12 needs boosting.  "Education is just super important, and we need to make sure we're supporting that as much as we can."

At Chrysler Elementary in Detroit, parents appreciate the benefits of the small magnet school, which has only one class per grade level.

“Chrysler elementary is a unique school, " said Solmon Foster. "It’s a neighborhood school, but you have parents who are more like a family. By being a smaller school, the kid and the parents know each other, they go from grade to grade together."

Denise Hytower's grandson is in his first year at Chrysler.

“I’ve heard great things about it so I’m expecting great things," she said. "I just want to make sure that the schools are staffed adequately. I am concerned about that."

But Foster said the school is off on a better financial foot this year thanks to support from Quicken Loans. The mortgage broker has helped in non-monetary ways, providing landscaping and tutoring.

Alicia Jones-Coleman wonders what will be best for her child after elementary school.

“My daughter will be a fifth grader next year, and I’m real nervous about what we’re going to do for sixth, seventh, and eighth grade," she said. "I’m looking at…from public school to charter school to private school. I don’t know if DPS is going to make the mark. We’ll see what happens.”

At Country Elementary school in Pinckney, parents were concerned about the material their children were learning. Kimberly Haller, whose son is starting kindergarten, said she's glad the school still offers a variety of classes – especially art and music.

"Those are two big things we were looking for to make that he still has that well-rounded education, where he gets to experience a bit of everything. Those are getting cut in so many schools,” she explained.

Andrew DeLong’s  daughter is starting first grade. He wants to see more writing instruction.

“We focus a lot on grammar and not much on writing," he said. "And they should be writing every single day. Like half an hour, hour maybe.”

What changes are you seeing at your school? Tweet at us @michiganradio or find us on Facebook.

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