Contents of this issue:


  • Judge: Bobb overstepped authority
  • Senate plan drops pension 'sweetener'
  • Congress considers more school aid
  • MSU ends retiree health benefit
  • Goodrich, Fenton opt for state 'choice' program

JUDGE: BOBB OVERSTEPPED AUTHORITY


DETROIT - In a power struggle between the Detroit Board of Education and Robert Bobb, the district's emergency financial manager, a Wayne County Circuit Court judge has ruled that Bobb may not close schools or implement his academic plan without consulting the board, The Detroit News reported.

The judge granted a preliminary injunction temporarily halting Bobb's plans to end social promotion, change grade levels in schools and test students every quarter, saying those overstepped his authority, according to The News. He also may not move ahead with plans to close up to 40 schools.

The Rev. David Murray, a school board member, told The News the injunction "protects the rights of the people who elected us," while Bobb said the judge "sentenced the school children of the city of Detroit to continued failure."

Both sides are expected back in court this week, with Bobb saying he will fight the ruling, according to The News. Separate media reports said that summer school might be canceled due to the decision and that Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox said his office will back Bobb in the dispute.

SOURCES:
The Detroit News, "Judge halts Bobb's plans for DPS," April 17, 2010

The Associated Press, "Detroit could cancel summer school after ruling," April 17, 2010

Mlive.com, "Attorney General Mike Cox backs Robert Bobb after judge halts plans for Detroit schools," April 19, 2010

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Detroiters Yearn For Tuition Tax Credits," Jan. 29, 2010


SENATE PLAN DROPS PENSION 'SWEETENER'


LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan Senate has adopted a revised plan intended to save about $230 million by nudging eligible state workers and public school employees into retirement, according to the Lansing State Journal.

The new plan requires state and public school employees to begin contributing 3 percent of their salary toward their retirement unless they retire before Oct. 1, the Journal reported.

An earlier version of the plan also would have eliminated retirees' vision and dental coverage for anyone not retiring by October, but that provision was removed, the Journal reported.

Also removed was a pension "sweetener" that would have boosted payouts for those agreeing to retire, according to the Journal.

The bills now move to the House of Representatives, which already is considering Republican-sponsored bills on the retirement system, the Journal reported.

WILX-TV, Lansing, reported that teachers and state workers said they would be less likely to retire without the boost.

SOURCES:
Lansing State Journal, "Senate OKs state retirement proposal," April 15, 2010

WILX-TV, Lansing, "Reaction to Senate Retirement Plan," April 15, 2010

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Votes, "Senate Bill 1227 (Senate school employee pension reform package)," March 11, 2010


CONGRESS CONSIDERS MORE SCHOOL AID


WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Senate is considering a one-year, $23 billion funding boost to public schools to protect education jobs, according to a report by the Medill News Service published in the Miami Herald.

U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said in introducing the bill that it would allow states to apply for federal funds to fill gaps in their education budgets, the Herald reported. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan testified that a bill needs to be passed by June to prevent 100,000 to 300,000 layoffs, according to the report, though Duncan has not endorsed Harkin's specific plan.

Last December the House of Representatives passed a similar $23 billion education bill, but that version did not win Senate approval, according to the Herald.

Harkin said the jobs bill would not be paid for by cutting other areas of the budget, which could lead to opposition from Republican members of the Senate who are unwilling to raise the federal deficit, the Herald reported.

SOURCE:
Miami Herald, "Senate Democrats want bailout for public school jobs," April 14, 2010 

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "Jobs-and-reform mostly jobs-and- jobs," Jan. 21, 2010


MSU ENDS RETIREE HEALTH BENEFIT


EAST LANSING, Mich. - As of July 1, a job offer at Michigan State University will no longer include retirement health benefits, the Lansing State Journal reported. The new policy covers both faculty and staff, and is intended to address the rising costs of post-retirement health care, according to the Journal.

President Lou Anna Simon said in a public memo that the university's current liability for those benefits is about $1 billion, a number expected to reach $5.88 billion by 2045 if the policy is not changed, according to the Journal.

The move does not affect current faculty, staff or retirees, the Journal reported.

Wayne Cass, chairman of the university's Coalition of Labor Organizations, told the Journal that union leaders would be meeting to discuss "how we're going to handle this."

While MSU ranked ninth in the Big Ten in faculty salaries last year, it ranked fifth in total compensation, the Journal reported.

SOURCE:
Lansing State Journal, "New hires at MSU to lose retiree health care," April 14, 2010

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Capitol Confidential, "Analysis: Government Employee Political Clout Obstructs Budget Reform," April 13, 2010


GOODRICH, FENTON OPT FOR STATE 'CHOICE' PROGRAM


GOODRICH, Mich. - Goodrich Area Schools will join the state's school choice program in 2010-2011, and Fenton Area Public Schools will remain in the program as well, according to related media reports about the Genesee County public school districts.

The Goodrich Board of Education voted 4-3 to shift to the state program, which will give area families until September to apply for a seat in Goodrich schools rather than the district to which they are assigned, according to the Grand Blanc News.

Previously, Goodrich participated in a countywide collaborative program under which the deadline to participate would have been May 28, the News reported. After that date, students wishing to attend school in a different district must get permission from the superintendent of the district they are leaving, according to the News.

Fenton, which last year became the first school district to leave the county program, voted to remain in the state program in the coming year, The Flint Journal reported.

Goodrich school board Treasurer Linda Jackson voted against joining the state program, saying, "We gain, but somebody else loses (if we take their students)," according to the News.

In Fenton, Dave Crawford, director of special services, said, "We are getting the kind of students who are coming here for the reasons we want them - the facilities, the programs, our staff," The Journal reported.

SOURCES:
The Flint Journal, "Fenton schools opt for state's Schools of Choice," April 12, 2010

Grand Blanc News, "Goodrich leaves county's schools of choice program," April 12, 2010

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "Michigan constitution hostile to school choice," Aug. 15, 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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