Contents of this issue:
- MEA to members: Save money for layoffs, job action
- Bills would stiffen strike penalties
- Bloomfield Hills eyes consolidating high schools
- Public universities spending more on administrators
- Some worry that Portage buyout will affect tax vote
MEA to Members: Save Money for Layoffs, Job Action
EAST LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Education Association is
advising members to save money as a hedge against future layoffs or a possible
job action, according to the Detroit Free Press, but some lawmakers say that
amounts to planning an illegal strike.
In a letter to union members, the MEA advised on holding
off on major purchases, the Free Press reported. Union spokesman Doug Pratt
said that was a reference not only to a possible job action, but to prepare for
layoffs in the case of state funding cuts.
The MEA already has asked local units to vote by April 15
on authorizing “crisis activities” up to and including a work stoppage,
according to the Free Press. Pratt said the MEA will not make those vote
tallies public, the Free Press reported.
“What a way to ruin the end of someone's high school
career,” Don Wotruba, of the Michigan Association of School Boards, told the
Free Press, referring to the potential for an illegal strike to disrupt final
exams and high school graduation.
House Speaker Jase Bolger criticized union leaders in a
statement, noting that while teachers could suffer penalties for going on
strike, union leaders would not, the Free Press reported.
Lawmakers have recently introduced a bill to fine the
authorizing union in the event of teacher strikes.
Detroit Free Press, “MEA's advice seen
by some as preparation for strike,” March 26, 2011
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “The MEA President Lays on the Guilt Trip:
How Will Michigan Respond?” April 28, 2010
Bills Would Stiffen Strike Penalties
LANSING, Mich. — Legislation to fine the Michigan Education
Association $5,000 for every participating teacher, per day, in the event of a
teacher strike was introduced in the state House of Representatives last week, according
to The Flint Journal. The proposal also would suspend or revoke each striking
While teacher strikes are illegal in Michigan, existing
penalties are hard to enforce, House Republicans said in a press release,
according to The Journal.
The proposals by Reps. Bill Rogers, R-Brighton, and Paul
Scott, R-Grand Blanc, came shortly after the MEA called on local units to vote
on authorizing “crisis activities up to and including job action,” The Journal
The bill would also fine teachers an amount equal to one
day’s pay for every day or partial day they participate in a strike, the report
Teachers in the Wayne-Westland Community School District
went on strike for four days in fall of 2008, until a circuit court judge
ordered them back to work, according to a 2008 report in The Westland Eagle.
The judge ordered the school district not to take disciplinary action until
ongoing contract negotiations were concluded. Later media reports said that a
letter of reprimand was placed in each teacher’s personnel file.
The Flint Journal, “Paul
Scott introduces bill to fine teachers union in event of strike,” March 22,
The Westland Eagle, “Court
orders Wayne-Westland teachers back to work,” Oct. 9, 2008
Michigan Education Digest, “Wayne-Westland
settles on raises, health concessions,” Feb. 4, 2009
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Make Unions Accountable for Illegal
Strikes,” Dec. 22, 2008
Bloomfield Hills Eyes Consolidated High Schools
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. — Bloomfield Hills Public Schools
has hired a design firm to draw up plans for combining two high schools, according
to The Oakland Press.
The first design plan would renovate Andover High School to
make room for Lahser High School students and other educational programs, The
Press reported. The alternative design would be of a new school at the Andover
site, the report said.
School Board President Ingrid Day said the work is preliminary
and that the board has not approved any plan, The Press reported.
Superintendent Rob Glass and board trustees agree that
keeping two high schools open is not feasible, The Press reported.
Some residents have objected to spending sinking fund money
to plan a new high school configuration, while others have supported the single
high school option, according to The Press.
The Oakland Press, “Bloomfield
Hills school board approves firms to create school consolidation designs,”
March 26, 2011
Michigan Education Digest, “More school buildings up for sale,”
Feb. 15, 2011
Public Universities Spending More on Administrators
DETROIT — State universities in Michigan increased spending
on administrators by 30 percent, on average, over the past five years, while
faculty compensation went up an average of 22 percent, according to the Detroit
The number of administrative jobs at public state
universities grew by 19 percent from 2005-2006 to 2009-2010, on average, the
Free Press reported, much higher than average increases in student enrollment
or state funding. The report was based on data from the House Fiscal Agency,
according to the Free Press.
University representatives told the Free Press that the
extra spending on administration is needed to attract and retain top personnel
and also that the number of credit hours has increased, even if enrollment has
not, so more employees are needed.
“It's still a small number,” Michael Boulus, executive
director of the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan, told the
Free Press, referring to the $260 million increase in administrative spending
across 15 universities.
“When you add a rare-isotope machine” at Michigan State
University, “you're going to be hiring” professionals to run it, Boulus told
the Free Press.
But accounting professor Howard Bunsis, treasurer for the
faculty union at Eastern Michigan University, told the Free Press, “There are
too many administrators making too much money.”
“Universities are enlarging their payroll” while “at the
same time consistently beating the drum that the state has to appropriate more
money to them,” said Michael Van Beek, education policy director for the
conservative Mackinac Center for Public Policy. “There's a lesson here in
The Mackinac Center publishes Michigan Education Digest.
Detroit Free Press, “Amid
tougher times, spending on payroll soars at Michigan universities,” March
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “State College Money Should Follow Students,
Not Lobbyists,” May 15, 2006
Some Worry that Portage Buyout Will Affect Tax Vote
KALAMAZOO, Mich. —
Portage Public Schools is paying $272,500 to buy out the last year of
Superintendent Marsha Wells's contract, a financial decision that has some
officials worried that voters there won't want to renew a 1.5-mill school tax,
according to The Kalamazoo Gazette.
The tax is levied countywide and generates about $11
million annually for the nine districts in Kalamazoo County, according to The
Gazette. A renewal election is scheduled May 3.
Officials say that Gov. Rick Snyder's proposed K-12 school
budget reduction makes renewing the millage “more important than ever,” The
But school officials are worried that Portage voters, who
previously supported the tax, might be so unhappy at the cost of the buyout
that they will vote against the renewal and dampen its chance for success
countywide, according to the Gazette.
Each district in the county receives about $340 per student
through the so-called “enhancement tax,” the report said.
The Kalamazoo Gazette, “School
officials hopeful on vote, concerns raised that Portage buyout could impact May
election,” March 27, 2011
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Superintendent, teacher pay,” March
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.