Contents of this issue:


  • Governor nixes '20j' payments
  • Teacher, district settle for $106,000
  • More shared services may lie ahead
  • Michigan math scores flat
  • Arbitrator: Privatizing not a contract violation

GOVERNOR NIXES '20j' PAYMENTS


LANSING, Mich. - Gov. Jennifer Granholm vetoed the part of the state school budget that essentially protected school districts from Proposal A losses, the Michigan Information & Research Service Inc. reported Monday.

The so-called "20j" payments are given each year to higher- spending school districts that would have received less per- pupil revenue under Proposal A than before that law was passed.

This year the total allocation would have been $54 million spread among 52 districts, MIRS reported.

The school budget also incorporates a $165-per-student cut across all districts, and the governor said more cuts may be forthcoming if revenue numbers continue to fall, according to MIRS. Overall, school aid would be reduced by 2.9 percent, or $382 million, under the budget passed by the Legislature earlier this month, the report said.

MIRS reported that school districts in Livonia, Dearborn and Walled Lake stand to lose about $5 million each due to 20j cuts.

SOURCE:

Michigan Information & Research Service Inc., "Governor Vetoes 20J in Signing K-12 Budget," Oct. 19, 2009 (Subscription required)

FURTHER READING:

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "How to Save $2.2 Billion," June 8, 2009


TEACHER, DISTRICT SETTLE FOR $106,000


BYRON TOWNSHIP, Mich. - A Byron Center Public Schools special education teacher will receive $106,000 in a settlement agreement with the school district, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

The teacher, Timothy Grider, was convicted of lewd and lascivious conduct in a case involving a prostitute, The Press reported. The district also reported that the teacher admitted to drinking vodka on school grounds after parent-teacher conferences, according to The Press.

Because of the time and uncertainty involved in trying to revoke his tenure, the district instead pursued a resignation agreement, The Press reported.

Grider has been on administrative leave since March and submitted a letter of resignation. The $106,000 is the value of his salary and benefits, according to The Press. The settlement agreement requires the district to write a letter of reference to any non-school prospective employer on the teacher's behalf, while providing the disciplinary report to any prospective school employers, the report said.

In an unrelated case, West Ottawa Public Schools won its case to revoke the tenure of a science teacher, but paid the teacher's salary and benefits while the case was heard, totaling $89,000, as well as $84,000 in legal fees, The Press reported in a separate article. The teacher in that case was found to have given test answers to students.

SOURCES:

The Grand Rapids Press, "Byron Center settles with teacher for $73,651 plus benefits after incident with prostitute," Oct. 16, 2009

The Grand Rapids Press, "Plenty of legal bills for West Michigan school districts," Oct. 16, 2009

FURTHER READING:

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Reforming Teacher Tenure Policies," June 30, 2008


MORE SHARED SERVICES MAY LIE AHEAD


THREE RIVERS, Mich. - Consolidation of services is one likely way public school districts will deal with future budget reductions, the Three Rivers Community Schools superintendent told the school board recently, according to radio station WLKM- 95.9.

Superintendent Roger Rathburn noted that technology services already have been consolidated at the county level there, and he suggested that business and superintendent services may follow suit, the station reported.

"The school systems just can't exist under the old model. There are not enough revenues to sustain that model and I think most districts are doing their best to keep the impact away from the classroom," Rathburn said, according to WLKM.

The Three Rivers district has reduced spending by about $2.8 million in the past four years, the report said. The K-12 spending bill passed by the state Legislature for the current year cuts school aid by about $165 per student.

SOURCE:

WLKM-95.9, "TR School Board discusses budget trends," Oct. 13, 2009

FURTHER READING:

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Six Habits of Fiscally Responsible Public School Districts: Executive Summary," Dec. 3, 2002


MICHIGAN MATH SCORES FLAT   


DETROIT - Michigan math scores remain at a standstill on The National Assessment of Educational Progress, while other Midwest states are improving, The Detroit News reported in a recent column.

The NAEP tests fourth- and eighth-grade students across the country. The latest math scores show that achievement levels in Michigan have remained essentially flat over the past five years, while those in other Midwest states have improved relative to national averages, according to The News.

In addition, African-American students in Michigan scored lower, on average, than their counterparts in any other state, The News noted. Michigan also is tied for last nationally in calculations of black-white achievement gaps on the test, the report said.

"While our neighbors are dramatically improving, we continue to fail," Sharif Shakrani, co-director of the Michigan State University Education Policy Center, said, according to The News.

SOURCES:

The Detroit News, "New test scores show that our students are falling behind," Oct. 19, 2009

National Center for Education Statistics, "Mathematics 2009: Snapshot State Report, Michigan Grade 4."

National Center for Education Statistics, "Mathematics 2009: Snapshot State Report, Michigan Grade 8."

FURTHER READING:

Michigan Education Report, "Double-but-nothing: More education spending hasn't yielded better results," Sept. 6, 2006


ARBITRATOR: PRIVATIZING NOT A CONTRACT VIOLATION


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - An arbitrator has ruled that Grand Rapids Public Schools did not violate its collective bargaining agreement with bus drivers when it hired a private company in 2005 to take over busing, even though a year remained on the contract between the drivers' union and the district, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

The Grand Rapids school board hired Dean Transportation Inc. to provide transportation services at an anticipated savings of $18.5 million over five years, The Press reported. Since then, the Grand Rapids Educational Support Personnel Association has filed several grievances and lawsuits related to the matter.

At earlier hearings, the drivers won a grievance over whether they could remain GRESPA members or would be moved to an existing Dean employee union, The Press noted. Dean also reached an out-of-court settlement with the union on allegations that it interfered with the union contract.

The latest ruling affirms school districts' sole authority to privatize support services, district spokesman John Helmholdt told The Press.

"As districts fight to keep precious resources in classrooms, they have to consider this (finding a cheaper way to provide support services)," Helmholdt said, according to the Press.

Michigan Education Association attorney Fil Iorio told The Press that the union is evaluating whether to challenge the arbitrator's ruling.

SOURCE:

The Grand Rapids Press, "Arbitrator: Grand Rapids schools did not violate collective bargaining agreement by outsourcing bus drivers," Oct. 15, 2009

FURTHER READING:

Michigan Education Report, "Dean Transportation, MEA at odds over unions," Feb. 23, 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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