Contents of this issue:


  • Bill proposes school donation tax credit
  • Preschool reports at odds
  • Benton Harbor recall over privatization
  • Woodhaven caps insurance
  • Home-schoolers team up

BILL PROPOSES SCHOOL DONATION TAX CREDIT


LANSING, Mich. - A tax credit on donations to public and private school foundations won state Senate approval last week, according to the Michigan Information & Research Service.

Senate Bill 38, sponsored by Sen. John Pappageorge, R-Troy, passed on a 24-13 vote, MIRS reported. It would allow a tax credit of 50 percent of the total amount given to an education fund endowment or a specific project organized by an education foundation, according to MIRS. The maximum amount would be $50 for an individual or $100 for joint filers.

Sen. Gilda Jacobs, D-Huntington Woods, said the bill was "well- intentioned" but would cost the state $44 million in tax revenue and would not resolve the need for comprehensive funding reform, MIRS reported.

Sen. Mickey Switalski, D-Roseville, said the bill violates the Michigan Constitution by including private schools, according to MIRS, but Pappageorge said that, "The notion that this would somehow destroy the (school) system is just wrong." He said that the contributions would reduce the financial strain on schools, MIRS reported.

For a resident estate or trust, the credit could not exceed 5 percent of the taxpayer's tax liability for the tax year before any credits were claimed, or $2,500, whichever was less, MIRS reported.

SOURCE:
Michigan Information & Research Service, Inc., "Senate OKs School Donation Tax Break," Jan. 19, 2010 (Subscription required)

FURTHER READING:

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Universal Tuition Tax Credit: A Proposal to Advance Parental Choice in Education," Nov. 13, 1997

Michigan Education Digest, "Slight increase in tuition tax credit programs," April 2, 2009


PRESCHOOL REPORTS AT ODDS


LANSING, Mich. - Two recent reports on preschool come to somewhat conflicting conclusions, according to media reports. A Michigan report says that preschool education saves the state about $1.15 billion annually due to children's social and academic gains, while the federal government says that its Head Start program does not lead to long-term academic gains.

A study by Minnesota-based Wilder Research, commissioned by the Michigan Early Childhood Investment Corp., concluded that Michigan children who attend preschool save taxpayer dollars because they are less likely to repeat grades, require extra academic help or enter the juvenile justice system as they get older, The Detroit News reported.

The study was based on a review of 60 other preschool education studies, The News reported. State School Superintendent Michael Flanagan said the findings show that Michigan should spend more on preschool, possibly by diverting funds from employee benefits or by making high school classes larger, The News reported.

In comparison, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a study showing that children who attended Head Start performed better academically than those who did not attend, but that the performance gap disappeared by the end of first grade, according to Education Week.

SOURCES:
The Detroit News, "Study: Preschool saves cash," Jan. 26, 2010

Education Week, "Head Start Pupils' Gains Found to Fade," Jan. 19, 2010 (Subscription required)

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Kids in Head Start Still End Up Behind," Jan. 18, 2010


BENTON HARBOR RECALL OVER PRIVATIZATION


BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - A Feb. 23 recall election in Benton Harbor Area Schools is a referendum on the school board's decision to privatize busing, according to The (St. Joseph) Herald-Palladium. Three school board members who voted in favor of hiring First Student Inc. to take over transportation a year ago are named on the recall ballot.

Ronnie Brown, president of the local support staff union, filed the recall petition, the Herald-Palladium reported. He told the Herald-Palladium that the privatization was done in retaliation for the union's refusal to switch health insurance providers.

He said that about 50 people lost their jobs, though board President Dan McGinnis has said that most employees were subsequently hired by First Student, the report said.

Board members have said the privatization will save the district about $2.75 million over five years, according to The Herald- Palladium. The district is facing an $11 million overspending problem, the report said.

SOURCE:
The (St. Joseph) Herald-Palladium, "Payback time for BH school board?" Jan. 24, 2010

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "School Privatization Survey," Dec. 7, 2009


WOODHAVEN CAPS INSURANCE


WOODHAVEN, Mich. - The Woodhaven-Brownstown Board of Education has capped the amount the district will pay for teacher health insurance premiums at $13,000 annually, according to The (Southgate) News-Herald.

Any charge above that amount will be paid by individual teachers, according to The News-Herald. Previously, the district paid $15,235 annually per teacher for health care plans administered by the Michigan Education Special Services Association, an affiliate of the Michigan Education Association.

If the district continues to purchase Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance through MESSA, teachers will pay about $186 monthly as of Feb. 1, The News-Herald reported. If the teachers switch to an Aetna plan, they will pay nothing, since the total cost of that plan is within the cap. Two other employee groups are covered under Aetna plans, the report said.

The contract between the district and the Woodhaven-Brownstown Education Association's 310 members expired in 2007, and Superintendent Barbara Lott said the negotiations have reached impasse, according to The News-Herald.

The district anticipates taking in $2 million less in revenue this year and $4 million less next year due to declining enrollment and reduced per-pupil state funding, The News-Herald reported.

SOURCE:
The (Southgate) News-Herald, "Woodhaven: School district caps insurance coverage for teachers," Jan. 19, 2010

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

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Michigan School District Health Insurance"


HOME-SCHOOLERS TEAM UP


MIDLAND, Mich. - Home-school students in the Midland area are getting together for high school classes as a way to prepare for college, according to the Midland Daily News. Meanwhile, an Oregon group wants to open a charter school just for home- schoolers, according to a media report there.

In Midland, one weekly home-school program offers group instruction for high school students taught by parents with expertise in given subjects, the Daily News reported. Younger siblings meet in a separate group at the same time.

Nearby Delta College also hosts a home-school program for students from throughout the Saginaw region, also taught by volunteer parents, the Daily News reported.

In Medford, Ore., organizers have applied to open the Logos Charter School to serve home-school students, the (Medford) Mail Tribune reported. While most instruction would take place at home, students would meet weekly with a licensed teacher who would help plan lessons and monitor progress, the report said.

Students also could take group classes in music or foreign language, depending on demand.

Statistics show that the average composite ACT score among home- schooled students in 2009 was 22.5, compared to the national average of 21.1, the Daily News reported.

SOURCES:
Midland Daily News, "Home-schooled: Co-ops: Families join forces for their kids," Jan. 26, 2010

(Medford, Ore.) Mail Tribune, "Homeschool group seeks charter option," Jan. 21, 2010

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "At Home at Delta College," Feb. 23, 2007


MICHIGAN EDUATION 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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