Contents of this issue:
- Online high school will expand
- West Bloomfield teachers sue over pay cuts
- Eau Claire
considers self-funded insurance
- NEA chiefs propose teacher evaluation changes
- Farmington chooses concessions over outsourcing
Online High School Will Expand
JACKSON, Mich. — The Jackson Learning Lab online high
school hopes to triple enrollment to 100 students by fall, now that it has
state permission to expand, according to The Jackson Citizen Patriot.
The Michigan Department of Education recently designated
the school an “innovative program” and wants to track student achievement
there, according to The Citizen Patriot. The Lab currently enrolls 30 seventh-
through twelfth-graders. Students can work offsite or at the school in downtown
The school is under the oversight of Suttons Bay Public
Schools near Traverse City, according to The Citizen Patriot. The Lab receives
$7,000 per student in state aid, the same amount that Suttons Bay receives, the
School founder Roxana Hopkins told The Citizen Patriot that
the program fits in with Gov. Rick Snyder’s education reform plan, which
encourages online education. Hopkins is a retired Jackson Public Schools
The Jackson Citizen Patriot, “Online
high school named 'innovative program' by state, plans to expand to 100
students as Gov. Rick Snyder promotes virtual learning,” May 10, 2011
Michigan Education Report, “Jackson
Learning Lab: The hope of success for all learners,” August 4, 2009
Mackinac Center for Public
Policy, “A Virtual Learning Revolution,”
March 7, 2011
West Bloomfield Teachers Sue over Pay Cuts
WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. — The West Bloomfield School
District teachers union is suing the district over recent 10 percent pay cuts,
according to the WestBloomfieldPatch.
The West Bloomfield Education Association claims that the
district violated the Michigan and U.S. constitutions when it imposed a new
contract in March, the Patch reported. It wants Oakland County Circuit Court to
require the district to maintain previous wages until the Michigan Employment
Relations Commission rules on a charge of unfair labor practice, according to
The board voted to implement the contract on March 31 after
18 months of failed negotiations, according to the Patch.
The union claims that the district began to implement the pay
cut before the board voted, by preparing payroll checks in advance that
reflected the lower wages, the Patch reported. The district said that given the
volume of payroll, it needed to plan in advance for the possible board action.
MERC will hear the case on July 7, according to the Patch.
The district refused to comment on the lawsuit, the Patch reported.
In earlier reports, the Patch reported that the union
offered what it said amounted to $3.7 million in spending reductions, while a
board member said that the union’s offer reflected only “one-time” savings.
Union Sues West Bloomfield School District,” May 9, 2011
Bloomfield School Board Imposes Contract, 10% Pay Cut as Angry Teachers Protest,”
March 31, 2011
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Teachers Picket as one of Michigan’s
Wealthiest School Districts Faces Big Deficit,” Oct. 13, 2010
Eau Claire Considers Self-Funded
EAU CLAIRE, Mich. — Eau Claire
Public Schools is considering moving to self-funded health insurance, a switch
that could save up to $200,000 next year, according to The (St. Joseph)
The district currently purchases
insurance through the Michigan Education Special Services Association, a
third-party administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association,
according to The Herald-Palladium. The plan is popular with employees, and the
district’s intent is to replicate the existing coverage through a self-funded
plan, The Herald-Palladium reported.
Superintendent Mark Costello
told The Herald-Palladium that district staff has been part of the insurance
discussions. He estimated as much as $200,000 in savings based on a potential
10 percent MESSA rate hike, according to The Herald-Palladium.
"Our district is going to
be short of money next year and we have to figure out how to cut costs without
cutting staff," Costello said, according to The Herald-Palladium.
The (St. Joseph)
schools explore dumping MESSA insurance,” May 11, 2011
Mackinac Center for Public
Policy, “Michigan spends more on
teacher benefits than most other states,” Jan. 4, 2011
NEA Chiefs Propose Teacher Evaluation Changes
WASHINGTON, D.C. ? National Education Association delegates
will decide in July whether to put the union stamp of approval on the much-debated
use of student test scores to evaluate teachers, according to Education Week.
Union leaders have drafted a policy statement that supports
the use of “valid, reliable, high-quality standardized tests,” in combination
with other measures, to gauge teacher performance, Education Week reported, but
it will be up to delegates from across the country to approve, modify or reject
it at the union’s national assembly.
“Members want NEA to speak up and lead in this discussion,”
NEA President Dennis Van Roekel told Education Week.
State and local NEA affiliates are not bound by national
policy statements, according to Education Week.
Julia Koppich, a San Francisco-based consultant, told
Education Week that the announcement shows willingness by the union to discuss
reform, but that statement itself includes a number of disappointing caveats.
The proposed policy says that, in addition to test scores,
teacher evaluations should include lesson plans, classroom observations,
teacher-created assessments, teacher professional development and other factors,
Education Week reported. Van Roekel said that current standardized tests are
not designed to measure teacher effectiveness and that alternatives must be
Education Week, “NEA
Leaders Propose Teacher-Evaluation Shift,” May 11, 2011
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “A Meritorious Idea: Oscoda Schools
Pioneers Teacher Evaluation Program”
Farmington Chooses Concessions over Outsourcing
FARMINGTON, Mich. — Farmington Public Schools trustees
voted 5-2 to accept concessionary contracts from unionized support staff rather
than outsource non-instructional services, according to the (Farmington)
Observer & Eccentric.
The contracts, which union members were to vote on by today, would reduce spending by an estimated $2.3 million in each of the next three years, while privatizing custodial and transportation services would save up to $4 million annually, the Observer & Eccentric reported.
District officials said that decreased revenue and “soaring
health and retirement costs” required them to look for cost savings, according to
The proposed concessions include wage decreases, higher
employee contributions to health benefit costs, custodial workday adjustments
and changes in vacation, overtime and sick day accrual, among others, according
to the Observer & Eccentric.
Board member Priscilla Brouillette, who voted against
accepting the contracts, cited the increasing cost of public employee pensions
as the reason for her vote, the Observer & Eccentric reported.
(Farmington) Observer & Eccentric, “Farmington
Public Schools won’t outsource busing, custodial,” May 12, 2011
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Michigan Schools Contract Out More Than
Ever,” Sept. 10, 2010
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.