May 14, 2013

Contents of this issue:

  • Appeals court says districts can no longer collect union dues
  • Pontiac district may be able to pay bills with state help
  • Some Michigan districts waste federal meal subsidies 
  • Bay Mills pulls authorization for charter school after one year 
  • Bus drivers stage ‘sick-out,’ close Walled Lake Schools 

Appeals Court Says Districts Can No Longer Collect Union Dues

LANSING, Mich. – The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Michigan school districts can no longer collect union dues, according to Education Week.

Education Week reports that the appeals court upheld a 2012 Michigan law that prohibits districts from deducting union dues from teachers’ paychecks.
According to Education Week, unions tend to receive less money when they have to collect dues themselves instead of having the dues withheld.
SOURCE: Education Week, “Federal Court Revives Mich. Law Barring Teachers’ Union Deductions,” May 9, 2013
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Court Rules School Districts Cannot Use Public Resources to Withhold Union Dues," May 10, 2013

Pontiac District May be Able to Pay Bills With State Help

PONTIAC, Mich. – Under a deficit elimination plan approved by state Superintendent Mike Flanagan, the Pontiac School District may be able to pay its bills, according to The Detroit News.

The News reports that Pontiac was in danger of failing to make payroll. The district, according to The News, had not sufficiently reduced its overspending. The News reports that Pontiac was spending $37.7 million more than it was receiving in revenue. According to The News, Pontiac’s overspending has increased steadily since 2009. 
With the state’s approval of the district’s deficit elimination plan, Pontiac will receive withheld state money, according to The News. The News also reports that Pontiac Superintendent Brian Dougherty will resign effective on May 17.
SOURCE: The Detroit News, “State education superintendent approves plan for Pontiac schools,” May 11, 2013
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “In Pontiac, MEA Local Raises $12K For School Supplies While Union Health Insurance Arm Sues District for $7.8 Million,” March 11, 2013

Some Michigan Districts Waste Federal Meal Subsidies

DETROIT – Thanks to federal nutrition guidelines, some Michigan school districts are unable to use federal school lunch subsidies, according to The Detroit News.

The News reports that at least 54 districts had more than $20,000 in unused subsidies, for a total of more than $2.3 million.
“To me, the schools are still serving as this dumping ground for the USDA’s …problems,” Susan Levin, director for nutrition education for Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, told The News.

Carl Merkle, the head of Warren Consolidated Schools’ food service program, told The News that last year he ordered a lot of French Fries in February, but learned in May that the district was limited to serving them once per week.
“They changed the rules and they give us stuff that makes it tough,” Merkle told The News.
SOURCE: The Detroit News, “Michigan schools leave food subsidies on table,” May 7, 2013
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “Federal meal restrictions cause drop in hot lunch purchases, Nov. 6, 2012

Bay Mills Pulls Authorization for Charter School After One Year

LANSING, Mich. – Bay Mills Community College is revoking its authorization of the Learn, Live, Lead (L3) Academy after the school’s first year, according to MLive.

MLive reports that the charter public school opened several weeks late, missed testing deadlines and failed to meet transparency requirements.
Buddy Morehouse, spokesperson for the Michigan Association of Public School Academies, told MLive that Bay Mill’s actions show that charter school authorizers are working to make sure low-quality schools are closed. “It shows that the oversight process that’s in place works, Morehouse told MLive.
Morehouse told MLive that public school districts do not close underperforming schools as quickly.
SOURCE: MLive, “A Lansing charter school is in danger of closing, but charter advocates say it’s not an indictment of the charter model,” May 9, 2013
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Michigan Charter Closing While Failing Conventional Schools Stay Open,” Aug. 9, 2012

Bus Drivers Stage ‘Sick-out,’ Close Walled Lake Schools

WALLED LAKE, Mich. – Many Walled Lake bus drivers called in sick last Wednesday to protest the district privatizing bus services, according to The Detroit News.

The News reports that the district will save $1.4 million per year by shifting to a transportation company. The district is facing financial difficulties, according to The News.
The News reports that the company may hire back some of the conventional district’s bus drivers.
SOURCE: The Detroit News, “Walled Lake schools ask parents to drive students to class Thursday,” May 8, 2013
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Education Denied to 15K Walled Lake Students, May 8, 2013