Contents of this issue:
  • Private firm helps Battle Creek schools cut energy costs

  • NEA spends $8 million fighting NCLB

  • DPS error omits teachers from payroll

  • Grand Rapids administrators could get incentive-based raises

  • MESSA disagreement hampering Ferris State contract talks

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — A private company that assists schools in reducing energy costs helped Battle Creek Public Schools save $5 million in the past decade, according to The Battle Creek Enquirer.

Texas-based Energy Education Inc., which had a $446,000 contract with Battle Creek schools from 1997 to 2001, continues to provide consulting services to the district, The Enquirer reported.

Steve Osborn, energy manager for the district, said the private company "came in and taught us how to save energy," according to The Enquirer. Osborn said students, teachers and staff have made simple changes in daily routines, such as turning off lights in empty rooms and powering off computers that aren't in use.

Energy Education uses a computer software program that monitors energy use in each building, which is compared against weather forecasts for specific days, The Enquirer reported. Osborn said the program tracks energy uses, instead of costs.

"From that, we can tell if a pipe is leaking or if there's abnormal usage based on what we should be using and how much it costs," he told The Enquirer. "We've found a lot of mistakes in buildings that way."

Osborn said the savings have been used to purchase thousands of computers and new audio-visual equipment. About 45 school districts in Michigan contract with Education Energy Inc., according to The Enquirer.

The Battle Creek Enquirer, "Schools save $5M in energy," July 13, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Walled Lake implements program to save on energy," Nov. 1, 2005

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

WASHINGTON — An investigation by Washington-based think tank Education Sector found that the National Education Association has spent more than $8 million in an effort against a federal law aimed at helping students succeed in math and reading, according to USA Today.

The report showed that the NEA, the nation's largest teachers union, has given millions of dollars to organizations that oppose the No Child Left Behind Act, USA Today reported. NCLB regulations call for all students to be "proficient" in math and reading by 2014.

USA Today reported that opponents of the law were critical of the Bush administration for paying syndicated columnist Armstrong Williams about $240,000 to promote the legislation.

USA Today, "Report: NEA pays opponents of No Child Left Behind law," July 10, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "NEA gives millions to special interest groups," Jan. 10, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "IRS begins audit of nation's largest teachers union," Nov. 25, 2003

DETROIT — About 200 teachers were deleted from the payroll, causing the Detroit Public Schools employees to miss a paycheck last week, according to The Detroit News.

Some of the teachers, who are working during summer school, will not get paid until July 25, some five weeks after summer classes began, The News reported. Mattie Majors, a spokeswoman for DPS, said the error was caused by people not transferring paperwork correctly among departments. According to The News, Majors would not say who was responsible.

"The bottom line is, everybody wasn't on the list to get paid," Majors told The News. "Now their names will be on the list."

The Detroit News, "District error deletes paychecks for Detroit teachers," July 12, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Detroit teachers union wants more money," June 27, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Teacher 'sick-out' forces Detroit schools to close," March 28, 2006

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Administrators in the Grand Rapids Public Schools could each get a 1.75 percent raise if the district loses fewer than 800 students, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

The district is projecting about 800 students will leave during the 2006-2007 school year. Teachers accepted a similar pay incentive, along with a 1.25 percent raise, in a new contract with the district in June, The Press reported.

About 240 principals, office staff and administrators agreed to the plan and also agreed to pay a higher percentage of their own health care costs, according to The Press.

The Grand Rapids Press, "Grand Rapids administrator raises tied to enrollment," July 11, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Grand Rapids teachers agree to incentive-based pay," June 27, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Otsego teachers will pay more for expensive MESSA insurance," May 9, 2006

BIG RAPIDS, Mich. — A disagreement over health insurance plans, and how much employees should contribute toward their own insurance, has delayed contract talks at Ferris State University, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

Administrators have offered a variety of health care insurance options from which faculty members can pick. The university has agreed to pay the first $10,740 for coverage, with employees paying anything over that, The Press reported. Faculty also would get a raise and bonuses worth 3 percent.

Among the options are plans offered through the Michigan Education Special Services Association. MESSA is a third-party administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association union.

MESSA insurance for next year at Ferris would cost $15,419, The Press reported. Blue Cross would cost $13,560. Mike Ryan, president of the Ferris Faculty Association, told The Press that the university should pay the entire cost of the more expensive MESSA plan.

The Grand Rapids Press, "Insurance holds up Ferris contract," July 3, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "CMU saves millions without MESSA," April 11, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Holton staffers drop MESSA," May 2, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Pinckney teachers voluntarily abandon MESSA," Feb. 7, 2006

MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (, a quarterly newspaper with a circulation of nearly 150,000 published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (, a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Ted O'Neil at

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