Contents of this issue:


  • Universities extend application window for new charter schools
  • Muskegon Heights privatizes some positions, saves $1.2 million
  • Niles secretaries take 2.5 percent pay cut
  • Saline will wait for state decision on ‘Pledge’ mandate
  • Some CMU faculty suspicious about union contract vote

Universities Extend Application Window for New Charter Schools


LANSING, Mich. — Grand Valley State University is extending the application window for new charter public schools, according to The Muskegon Chronicle. In past years, GVSU only accepted applications from groups looking to open a new charter public school in January, but the university is shifting to an ongoing application process.

“We believe there is not demand for new schools, but there is great demand for better schools,” Timothy Wood, special assistant to the president for charter schools at GVSU, told The Chronicle. “Our competitive application process is designed to identify quality applicants that will serve students well.”

Central Michigan University has also pushed back the application deadline according to a press release from The Center for Charter Schools at CMU. Groups seeking authorization from CMU to open a new charter public school will now have until March 1st to submit an application.

SOURCES:

The Muskegon Chronicle, "Charter school application process opens up at Grand Valley State University," Jan. 30, 2012

The Center for Charter Schools, “CMU Extends 2012 Charter Application Window,” Jan. 23, 2012

FURTHER READING:

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “What You Should Know About School Choice,” Jan. 25, 2012


Muskegon Heights Privatizes Some Positions Saves $1.2 Million


MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. — Muskegon Heights will save about $1.2 million this year and next after privatizing clerical workers, custodians and bus drivers, according to The Muskegon Chronicle.

The board also approved about $4 million in spending reductions, The Chronicle reported, although the district is still about $12 million in debt.

The board’s vote came a week after district employees rejected a proposal that included a temporary 35 percent pay cut and larger employee contributions for benefits, according to The Chronicle.

SOURCES:

The Muskegon Chronicle, “Muskegon Heights teachers reject 35 percent pay cut, face payless paydays,” Jan. 13, 2012

The Muskegon Chronicle, “Muskegon Heights privatizes school employees, makes nearly $4 million in cuts,” Jan. 23, 2012

FURTHER READING:

Michigan Education Report, “Muskegon Heights school board asks for emergency manager,” Dec. 13, 2011


Niles Secretaries Take 2.5 Percent Pay Cut


NILES, Mich. — Secretaries in Niles Community Schools have agreed to a new contract that includes a 2.5 percent pay cut, according to the Niles Daily Star. The deal should save the district around $70,000 a year.

The secretaries received a signing bonus and will use the same insurance plan as the district’s administrators, the Star reported. The secretaries had been working without a contract since June 2009.

Superintendent Richard Weigel told the Star he appreciated the secretaries’ willingness to help avoid future financial issues.  According to Weigel, the district is currently facing a deficit for the 2013-14 school year unless changes are made.  Administrators have taken an 8 percent pay cut and the district is seeking a similar cut in current contract negotiations with teachers.

“The key to our work together and quick ratification of the contract was to come together without outside interference and talk to each other without the normal competitive bargaining tactics,” Weigel told the Star.

According to the Star, negotiations took place without a negotiator from the Michigan Education Association at the request of the secretaries union.

SOURCE:

The Niles Daily Star, “Niles school secretaries take pay cut,” Jan. 26, 2012

FURTHER READING:

Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Michigan Teacher Pay 16.5 Percent Higher Than Indiana,” Dec. 2, 2010


Saline Will Wait for State Decision on ‘Pledge’ Mandate


SALINE, Mich. — The Saline Board of Education will wait for the state Legislature to act before going ahead with a proposal to require students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance daily, according to The Saline Reporter. The House is currently considering legislation that would make the pledge mandatory for all public schools.

Dave Holden, the trustee who proposed adopting the mandatory Pledge policy, agreed that waiting for the state is the best course of action, according to the Reporter.

"I've spoken with a number of members of the House who intend to bring the measure forward in the near term. In their views, that's probably in the next four months," he told the Reporter. "I have the confidence level that it will be approved and become part of our program starting next year.”

The Reporter noted that not all board members were comfortable with a statewide mandate.

"I am as patriotic as the next guy," trustee Todd Carter told the Reporter, "but we need to just stay aware that we don't want the state coming in and telling us how to run our school. I don't need Big Brother coming down here and telling me to stand up and salute the flag. I will choose to do that myself."

SOURCE:

The Saline Reporter, “Board of Education to let Michigan Legislature consider Pledge of Allegiance mandate first,” Jan. 25, 2012

FURTHER READING:

Michigan Education Report, “Saline schools consider mandating ‘Pledge of Allegiance’,” Jan. 16, 2012


Some CMU Faculty Suspicious About Union Contract Vote


MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. — Some Central Michigan University Faculty Association members are suspicious of their union’s voting process, according to the Midland Daily News. Concerns were raised after the union refused to release vote totals for the recent ratification of the new faculty contract.

The Daily News reports the FA did announce that roughly three quarters of its members voted, but will not say how many voted for or against the new contract. That omission has led some faculty to try to pressure the union for greater transparency.

“This is the kind of sneakiness and secrecy that we expect from the administration, not from our union leaders,” CMU Journalism Professor John K. Hartman said in a Jan. 14 Facebook post on the Friends of CMU Faculty page, according to the Daily News. Hartman also said that the union’s secrecy could lead to members calling for a recount.

“I believe the failure to release the vote total raises suspicions about the actual counting of the votes,” Hartman wrote.

SOURCES:

The Midland Daily News, “CMU's union contract vote leaves some faculty ‘suspicious’,” Jan. 16, 2012

FURTHER READING:

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Trust Us, We Won,” Jan. 16, 2012


MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report, an online newspaper published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Kyle Jackson at mailto:med@educationreport.org

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