June 17, 2014

Contents of this issue:

  • Ann Arbor could terminate teacher contract
  • EAA head may resign
  • GRPS considers how to compete
  • Legislature passes school funding increase
  • MEAP stays in state budget

Ann Arbor Could Terminate Teacher Contract

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – A conflict between Ann Arbor Public Schools and the district’s union could result in the school board terminating the district’s collective bargaining agreement with teachers, according to MLive.

MLive reports that the bargaining agreement in place wouldn’t expire until June 2016. The district is facing a $10 million overspending crisis and needs to make ends meet, according to MLive.
A pay freeze would save the district more than $5 million, MLive reports.
If the district does not reach a new agreement with the union before June 23, according to MLive, the district’s collective bargaining agreement will be terminated on June 30.

SOURCE: MLive, “District to Ann Arbor teachers union: Sign agreement or contract ends,” June 12, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Schools Union Contracts Across The State Retain Clauses Calling For Hiring Based On Race,” April 4, 2014 

EAA Head May Resign

DETROIT – John Covington, the head of the statewide Education Achievement Authority, may step down, according to The Detroit News.

The News reports that Covington has told the governor that he will leave the position to take another job elsewhere. Covington has led the EAA for less than three years, and was the head of the Kansas City school district for two years, according to The News.
The EAA has been a controversial entity, The News reports, and has faced recent accusations of excessive spending and enrollment decline.

SOURCE: The Detroit News, “Head of EAA reportedly to resign,” June 14, 2014 

FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “No Grand Rapids Carve-Out under EAA Bill," March 8, 2013 

GRPS Considers How to Compete

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Facing a $13.5 million overspending crisis and consistently declining enrollment, Grand Rapids Public Schools is trying to figure out how to retain students, MLive reports.

School officials anticipate another 400 students will leave between the 2013-2014 school years, according to MLive.
“This is the moment when we have to realize we’re in a competitive environment,” GRPS board member David LaGrand told MLive.
As the district reconsiders its current marketing and outreach efforts, administrators are determining where GRPS can cut costs, according to MLive. 

SOURCE: MLive, “GRPS leaders talk broadening marketing techniques, relationship-building to combat enrollment,” June 13, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “2,000 Kent County Students use Schools of Choice," Sept. 3, 2013 

Legislature Passes School Funding Increase

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan legislators have approved a state school aid budget that will increase spending on K-12 education by 4 percent, according to MLive.

MLive reports that all school districts will see at least a $50 increase in per-pupil funding from the state. Districts that receive less funding per student will receive higher per-pupil increases, according to MLive.
Though the budget represents an increase in funding for schools, Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, told MLive that it will mean “greater pressure on schools to cut budgets for the arts, music and athletic departments…”
Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood, D-Taylor, told MLive that the spending increase will “…make [things] worse for schools…”

SOURCE: MLive, “Per-pupil funding plan debated in education budget bill headed to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder,” June 12, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Repeating Inaccurate Claim About School Funding Does Not Make It True, April 29, 2014 

MEAP Stays in State Budget

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Education Assessment Program will stay for another year, according to MLive. Legislators have kept funding for the administration of the MEAP in the 2014-2015 school aid budget, which means plans to transition the state to a different assessment have been derailed, MLive reports.

“I believe it’s a fairly strong mandate moving one more year with the MEAP,” Sen. Howard Walker, R-Traverse City, told MLive. “That would give everybody time to look at all the other tests that are available and decide which one is right for us…,” he told MLive.
“…we will follow the state law and begin evaluating the options and having discussions with vendors on how best to move forward,” Martin Ackley, director of government affairs for the Michigan Department of Education, told MLive.

SOURCE: MLive, “MEAP testing requirement in Michigan’s budget creates more questions than answers,” June 10, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “Fight to keep MEAP continues, could lead to new test,” May 27, 2014