April 29, 2014

Contents of this issue:

  • Study says less than half of state teachers will receive pension
  • Dexter to offer 20x more Schools of Choice seats this fall
  • 28 districts asking for $631 million on May ballot
  • Management company to leave Muskegon Heights charter district
  • Controversy over Common Core implementation continues 

Study Says Less Than Half of State Teachers Will Receive Pension

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A national study of public school teacher pensions estimates that less than half of Michigan teachers will receive their pension, according to Bellwether Education Partners.

The study estimates that just over 40 percent of new female Michigan teachers will continue teaching in the state long enough to earn a pension, BEP reports. BEP is a nonprofit educational organization that published the study.
According to BEP, a hypothetical Michigan teacher earning $40,000 would lose out on more than $7,000 if she left after her first year of teaching. That teacher’s estimated pension losses rise to almost $100,000 if she leaves after nine years of teaching, BEP reports.
BEP suggests that states should improve the transparency and the mobility of teacher pension benefits. According to BEP, teachers should see district contributions to their pension on their paystub, and teacher pensions would be improved if employees could take employee and employer pension contributions with them if they leave the state.

SOURCES: Bellwether Education Partners, “Friends without Benefits: How states systematically shortchange teachers’ retirement and threaten their retirement security,” March 27, 2014

Bellwether Education Partners, “The Warning Michigan Schools Should Be Giving Teachers,” April 25, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Teacher Pension System Hole Getting Deeper,” March 14, 2013

Dexter to Offer 20x More Schools of Choice Seats

DEXTER, Mich. – Dexter Community Schools will offer 20 times more seats to nonresident students through Schools of Choice than the district has previously, MLive reports.

According to MLive, Dexter previously offered just a single seat to a nonresident student under SOC. This will be the first time that Dexter has offered more than one SOC opening, MLive reports.
The 20 seats will be available at the district’s high school, and are an opportunity for nonresident students to participate in the district’s International Baccalaureate program, according to MLive.
Dexter Superintendent Chris Timmis told MLive that the move is unrelated to Ann Arbor Public Schools’ large SOC offering this year. Timmis also said that Dexter’s budget does not depend on increased revenue from SOC enrollment.

SOURCE: MLive, “Dexter High School to offer Schools of Choice transfers into IB      program,” April 24, 2014 

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “$131,000 for Five Students?" July 18, 2012 

28 Districts Asking For $631 Million on May Ballot

LANSING, Mich. – According to Michigan Construction News, 28 school districts are asking voters for a total of $631 million in bond money.

The largest ask is from West Ottawa, for nearly $90 million, Michigan Construction News reports. Rockford is asking for $76 million, and Bedford is asking for $70 million, according to Michigan Construction News.
GMB Architecture + Engineering, a company based in Holland, is associated with some of the largest of the 28 bond proposals, Michigan Construction News reports. The company is listed as the project architect for five of the largest projects, totaling close to $300 million.
Tower Pinkster, a company based in Kalamazoo, is also associated with five projects, but with a total cost of less than $40 million, according to Michigan Construction News.

SOURCE: Michigan Construction News, “School Bond List Grows With November 4thProposals,” April 25, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “Gull Lake bond upsets community," March 25, 2014 

Management Company to Leave Muskegon Heights Charter District

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. – The charter management company that has been running the Muskegon Heights charter school district is leaving, according to Michigan Radio.

The decision for Mosaica, the charter management company, to leave was mutual, MLive reports. Mosaica will be waiving its management fees for the year as well, according to Michigan Radio.
Michigan Radio reports that the Muskegon Heights charter district school board will be soliciting bids from other management companies during May. District emergency manager Gregory Weatherspoon told MLive that the statewide Educational Achievement Authority could be eligible to bid on running the district.

SOURCE: Michigan Radio, “Muskegon Heights ends contract with charter school company,” April 26, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “Muskegon Heights public charter district will stay in place, Nov. 20, 2012 

Controversy Over Common Core Implementation Continues

LANSING, Mich. – The implementation of a new academic testing system is coming under fire from Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, according to MLive.

MLive reports that the state is transitioning away from the MEAP and to the Smarter Balanced test. Rep. McMillin, a critic of Common Core, said that statements from State Superintendent Michael Flanagan that the MEAP test is no longer an option are “disingenuous,” according to MLive.
“If we don’t have Smarter Balanced, we won’t have a test,” Flanagan told MLive.
MLive reports that Rep. McMillin has asked that Flanagan be called to testify on the issue before the House Education Committee.

SOURCE: MLive, “Lawmaker: Michigan superintendent ‘disingenuous or flat out lying’ about inability to give MEAP next year,” April 25, 2014
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “What MEAP Scores Mean,” March 22, 2010