More time for reading course
New teachers will have longer to complete a required course in reading instruction under a new law passed in June by the Michigan Legislature and signed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Senate Bill 70 extends by two years the beginning of a six-year "window" during which new teachers must complete a three-credit course in the diagnosis and remediation of reading disabilities. The law also would allow a person to complete the course as part of his or her teacher preparation training. The bill was introduced by Sen. Nancy Cassis, R-Novi, in January. It passed in the House on a 107-0 vote and in the Senate on a 36-0 vote.
Expand definition of vocational education
"Career and technical education" will
be added to the definition of vocational education in the Michigan School Code
following action by the Michigan Legislature. Introduced by Sen. Gerald Van
Woerkom, R-Muskegon, on Feb. 8, Senate Bill 188 adds the following in the
definition: "Education designed to provide career development and the knowledge
and skills leading to entry-level technical employment or higher education in a
technical field. Career and technical education programs include classroom and
laboratory experiences and work-based instruction." The bill authorizes a
variety of expenditures by intermediate school districts related to career
education and establishes required procedures and regulations. It passed in the
Senate, 36-0, and in the House, 102-5, and was given immediate effect. Gov.
Jennifer Granholm signed the legislation on July 17.
‘Promise’ recipients outside of Michigan
High school students who live in
Michigan but attend a high school outside the state would be eligible for
"Michigan Promise Award" college scholarships under Senate Bill 570, introduced
by Sen. Cameron Brown, R-Sturgis, on June 6. The proposal passed the Senate,
35-0, on June 28, and was referred to the House Education Committee. Altogether,
about 40 Michigan residents currently attend out-of-state schools, either
private or parochial schools or schools on military bases, according to the
Department of Treasury.
Keep programs within district boundaries
A school district could not operate a
school or educational program outside its geographical boundaries unless it
received written permission from the board of education of the district where
the program is located under House Bill 4924, introduced by Rep. Tim Melton,
D-Pontiac, on June 14. The measure passed in the House of Representatives,
84-23, on June 28, including an amendment that exempts school programs already
in operation outside their home district. Public school academies, or charter
schools, also would be exempted. An analysis of the bill states that many school districts operate educational programs outside their boundaries in conjunction with universities, businesses or other schools for mutual benefit. In one case in the Pontiac area, however, a school district announced plans unilaterally to open an alternative high school within another district’s boundaries.
Legislation introduced by Sen. Ron
Jelinek, R-Three Oaks, on May 25, would require all regular school districts
within an Intermediate School District to adopt a common school calendar. Senate
Bill 549 would make exceptions for existing year-round schools or programs,
international baccalaureate academies and certain charter schools. If a
collective bargaining agreement were in effect on the date the legislation was
passed, that agreement would be take precedence until its conclusion. Schools
still could not open before Labor Day in any year. The bill passed in the Senate on a 20-17 vote on June 27 and was referred to the House of Representatives Education Committee.
An hour a week of gym
Public schools would be required to
provide at least 30 minutes of physical education twice a week to kindergarten
through fifth-graders under Senate Bill 282, introduced by Sen. Samuel "Buzz"
Thomas, D-Detroit, on Feb. 27. Participating in school athletics or in other
extracurricular physical activities would no longer count toward the total. The
bill was referred to the Senate Health Policy Committee.
Health insurance reform
A proposal to allow public employers,
including school districts, to join with other districts to establish and
maintain health insurance pools was defeated, 19-18, in the Michigan Senate in
June. Senate Bill 418 (S-1) would have created the "Public Employees Health
Benefit Act." It was introduced by Sen. Mark Jansen, R-Grand Rapids, in April.
In addition to allowing districts to form insurance pools, the act also would
have required current insurance carriers to provide the employers with claims
and cost data for medical benefits and require the employer to release that data to carriers from which it sought bids for service. Although school districts already are authorized to form insurance pools, the act would have made it easier by relaxing some requirements. The Senate Fiscal Agency analysis of the bill notes that it was prompted by continuing concern over high health care insurance costs in Michigan school districts.
Ten-year millage limit
Local government and school millage
authorizations with a duration of more than 10 years would be prohibited under
House Bill 4967, introduced in June by Rep. John Garfield, R-Rochester Hills. If approved, the bill would require that voters reauthorize all local and school property taxes at least once every 10 years. The measure was referred to the House Tax Policy Committee on June 21.