June 10, 2014

Contents of this issue:

  • Flanagan: Number of overspending districts declines 
  • State to consider requiring unions to tell members opt-out date
  • Flint lays off 250 employees to address overspending
  • Graduating class of West Michigan Virtual High School 
  • Detroit charter school signs tentative agreement with union
  • New website explains how MEA members can resign from union

Flanagan: Number of Overspending Districts Declines

LANSING, Mich. – State Superintendent Mike Flanagan says that the number of school districts spending more than they receive has declined by more than 10 percent, according to MLive.

MLive reports that there are currently 48 districts in an overspending crisis, compared to 55 last year.
When Detroit is excluded, the average annual overspending per district is about $3 million, according to MLive.

SOURCE: MLive, “State Superintendent Mike Flanagan says school district deficits ‘reducing’ overall,” May 28, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Increased School Funding Did Not Slow Districts In Deficit,” June 8, 2013 

State to Consider Requiring Unions to Tell Members Opt-Out Date

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Employment Relations Commission will consider an administrative rule that would require public-sector unions to give members notice when they are able to leave their union, MLive reports.

Ruthanne Okun, director of Michigan’s Bureau of Employment Relations, told MLive that “The Michigan Employment Relations Commission will take this request under careful consideration…”
Michigan Education Association spokesman Doug Pratt told MLive earlier that “Membership organizations don’t go around marketing how to quit. That’s not how this works.”

SOURCE: MLive, “Mackinac Center wants public employee unions to notify members of opt-out info,” June 5, 2014 

FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “Mackinac Center Requests Michigan Employment Relations Commission Create New Rule Requiring Public-Sector Unions to Notify Members of Opt-Out Windows," June 5, 2014 

Flint Lays Off 250 Employees to Address Overspending

FLINT, Mich. – Flint Community Schools laid off 250 employees in order to rein in its overspending crisis, MLive reports.

According to MLive, this layoff will save the district $5 million, half of what the district needs to cut in order to bring expenses in line with revenue.
No teachers were laid off, MLive reports, instead the employees laid off include secretarial and food service positions.
Flint Superintendent Larry Watkins told MLive that if the district doesn’t find a way to reduce spending, it faces state takeover.

SOURCE: MLive, “Flint School District delays decision on closing Northern, creating seventh grade academy,” June 4, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “School Districts Insist They Need More Money to Educate Fewer Students," Feb. 18, 2014

Graduating Class of West Michigan Virtual High School

GREENVILLE, Mich. – Forty-six high school seniors graduated from West Michigan Virtual School, a sign of growth for the virtual school, the Greenville Daily News reports. Last year, the virtual school graduated just 10 seniors, according to the Daily News.

The school began through a partnership between the Greenville and Berrien Springs school districts, the Daily News reports. The virtual school is designed to help students who might need extra help, or greater schedule flexibility, according to the Daily News.

“For most [graduates], the path was really quite defined, it was well known, well-traveled, and relatively safe,” Greenville Superintendent Pete Haines said, according to the Daily News.
“The path you have chosen and navigated successfully, was substantially more challenging, and for that you should be proud, because you took the road less traveled.” 

SOURCE: The Greenville Daily News, “46 students graduate from West Michigan Virtual School,” June 5, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Berrien Springs: Leading the Way, Aug. 14, 2013 

Detroit Charter School Signs Tentative Agreement With Union

DETROIT – A collective bargaining agreement is now in place at Cesar Chavez Academy, the Detroit Free Press reports.

While conventional school districts are unionized, charter public schools are typically not, the Free Press reports, making the Cesar Chavez agreement unusual.
Daniel Kukuk, an organizer with the American Federation of Teachers, told the Free Press that this collective bargaining agreement is the first one in a Detroit charter public school.
Kukuk told the Free Press that the agreement impacts salaries, class sizes, teacher evaluation and leave.

SOURCE: Detroit Free Press, “Cesar Chavez Academy in Detroit settles contract with teachers, staffers,” June 6, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “From Detroit To The Ivy League: One Student’s Journey,” April 28, 2014

New Website Explains How MEA Members Can Resign from Union

MIDLAND, Mich. – The Mackinac Center for Public Policy today unveiled a new website titled www.augustoptout.org that explains the process Michigan Education Association members can follow if they wish to resign from the union according to their worker freedom rights. The Mackinac Center publishes Michigan Education Digest.

The site has testimonials from teachers and other MEA members about why they opted out of the union and includes a calculator to help them determine how much money they could earn if they were to invest their annual dues.