Contents of this issue:


  • Jackson gives edge to local contractors
  • Three charged with election crime
  • Lawsuit against charter may be at end
  • Gibraltar: Drug co-pay, no premium payment
  • Caucus to focus on funding equity

JACKSON GIVES EDGE TO LOCAL CONTRACTORS


JACKSON, Mich. - Jackson Public Schools has adopted a policy of hiring local contractors for large jobs, as long as the local bids are within 5 percent or $10,000 of the lowest bid, according to The Jackson Citizen Patriot.

The Citizen Patriot reported that Mike Sharp, president of the Jackson Commercial Contractors Association, urged the school board to adopt the policy so that local contractors can help the district pass a $16.6 million bond issue in November. The money would be used for major building renovation and upgrades.

The district already gives local vendors preference in smaller purchases, but the new policy extends that preference to larger construction services and contractors, The Citizen Patriot reported.

The school board approved the policy in a 4-2 vote this week.

Board President David Halsey and member Kathryn Keersmaekers voted no, saying the district should not lock itself into paying extra.

"I am all for keeping it local," Keersmaekers said, according to The Citizen Patriot. "Giving away $10,000 just because it's local is a real concern. I don't think this school district or any other school district can afford $10,000."

SOURCE:
The Jackson Citizen Patriot, "Jackson School Board approves rule favoring local contractors," Sept. 22, 2009

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Competitive Contracting is the Taxpayer's Best Friend," Sept. 5, 1995


THREE CHARGED WITH ELECTION CRIME


SAGINAW, Mich. - Three people, including two board members, have been charged with crimes related to the Buena Vista school board election in May, according to WEYI-TV25 and The Saginaw News.

The station reported that the Saginaw County Prosecutor's Office charged Alvin Jernigan, Julius Boarden and Leonard Williams.

Jernigan and Williams, both current board members, were charged with improper possession/return of absentee voter ballots, a felony, as well as making false statements in applying for an absentee ballot, a misdemeanor, according to The News.

Boarden was charged with making false statements in applying for an absentee ballot; he pleaded not guilty at a hearing Friday, The News reported.

Boarden and Williams both were candidates in the election, and Williams won a seat, according to The News. Jernigan was already a member of the board but was not a candidate in the May election. Neither Boarden nor Williams was appointed by the clerk to possess ballots, WEYI reported.

The News reported it could not reach any of the three men for comment.

SOURCES:
WEYI-NBC25, "3 Buena Vista school representatives charged," Sept. 18, 2009

The Saginaw News, "UPDATE: Three charged in alleged Buena Vista school election fraud," Sept. 18, 2009

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Digest, "Schools move to November elections," Aug. 7, 2009


LAWSUIT AGAINST CHARTER MAY BE AT END


WARREN, Mich. - Michigan Collegiate High School and Middle School came out ahead in an ongoing legal battle recently, as the Michigan Supreme Court refused to take up the City of Warren's case against the public charter school's development, according to C&G News.

The city has challenged the school's site plan since 2007, citing concerns with traffic and size of the site, according to C&G News. A Macomb County judge ruled twice on behalf of the school, formerly called Conner Creek Academy, ordering building permits to be issued and allowing construction to continue. The state Court of Appeals also upheld the school.

The school currently enrolls 475 students, Superintendent Chuck Meredith told C&G News.

"We're happy that it's finally over and that we can move on, and do what we wanted to do in the first place, which is to educate kids," Meredith said.

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts said he was "very disappointed" and told C&G News he would press his case with state officials and Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

SOURCE:
C&G News, "State high court denies appeal in battle over charter school," Sept. 15, 2009

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "Charter report favorable, state board wants more," Feb. 24, 2009


GIBRALTAR: DRUG CO-PAY, NO PREMIUM PAYMENT


WOODHAVEN, Mich. - Gibraltar Schools teachers will pay more out of pocket for prescription drugs, but will not contribute to their health insurance premiums under the terms of a new contract between their union and the school district, according to The (Southgate) News-Herald.

The new contract expires in 2011. Teachers will continue to receive Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance with the Michigan Education Special Services Association as a third-party administrator, according to The News-Herald. MESSA is affiliated with the Michigan Education Association.

Though they agreed to higher drug co-pays and new deductibles, teachers did not want to contribute to health plan premiums, Gibraltar Education Association President Barbara Golembiewski told The News-Herald. She said that could set a precedent of the district requesting higher contributions in future negotiations, The News-Herald reported.

Teachers will receive a 1 percent cost-of-living allowance in the first two years of the contract, the first year retroactively, according to The News-Herald. Teacher salaries in the district range from $38,019 to $80,415.

SOURCE:
The (Southgate) News-Herald, "Gibraltar: Teachers approve three- year contract," Sept. 15, 2009

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "Splitting the health insurance bill," Aug. 19, 2009


CAUCUS TO FOCUS ON FUNDING EQUITY


TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. - State legislators have formed a caucus intended to work toward equitable funding among public schools, according to a report in the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

Rep. Dan Scripps, D-Leland, told the Record-Eagle that the group wants to continue efforts to close the gap in per-pupil funding between districts, but also make sure that schools are treated equitably if and when the state cuts per-pupil aid.

Most caucus members represent school districts that receive near the base level of $7,316 per student, the Record-Eagle reported.

Rep. Chuck Moss, R-Birmingham, told the Record-Eagle that the caucus will need to define "equity." A model in which all school districts receive the same per-pupil funding won't work, since it costs more to live and work in certain parts of the state, Moss said.

SOURCE:
Traverse City Record-Eagle, "Local state reps push for school equity," Sept. 17, 2009

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "A Michigan School Money Primer: The Foundation Allowance, General Education," May 30, 2007


MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (http://www.educationreport.org), an online newspaper published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (http://www.mackinac.org), a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Lorie Shane at
mailto:med@educationreport.org

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