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.
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.
Michigan Information & Research Service Inc.,
Vetoes 20J in Signing K-12 Budget," Oct. 19, 2009 (Subscription required)
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
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.
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
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
"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.
School Board discusses budget trends," Oct. 13, 2009
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
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.
The Detroit News, "New
test scores show that our students are falling behind," Oct. 19, 2009
National Center for Education Statistics, "Mathematics
State Report, Michigan Grade 4."
National Center for Education Statistics, "Mathematics
2009: Snapshot State Report, Michigan Grade 8."
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
"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
The Grand Rapids Press, "Arbitrator:
Grand Rapids schools did not violate collective bargaining agreement by
outsourcing bus drivers," Oct. 15, 2009
Michigan Education Report, "Dean Transportation, MEA at odds over
unions," Feb. 23, 2007
MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (https://www.educationreport.org), an online newspaper published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (https://www.mackinac.org), a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.