Contents of this issue:
MESSA at heart of Ironwood deadlock
Mandatory funding increase group faces major opposition
New Howell high school might not open on time
Districts could get money for losing students
Detroit school janitor shot
Security tightens in East Detroit schools
MESSA AT HEART OF IRONWOOD DEADLOCK
IRONWOOD, Mich. — Health care costs continue to dominate labor
talks between the teachers union and Ironwood schools, according
to the Ironwood Daily Globe.
Both sides have filed fact finding briefs with the Michigan
Employment Relations Commission, the Daily Globe reported. Health
insurance for teachers costs the district more than $16,000 a
year per teacher, double what it was five years ago. The
insurance is through the Michigan Education Special Services
Association, a third-party administrator affiliated with the
Michigan Education Association.
"The association believes that the school district's deficit is
irrelevant, provided that its membership continues to have
unmatched benefits entitlement and higher salary," the Daily
Globe quoted the district's brief as saying.
The MEA, which is representing its Ironwood members, argues in
its brief against a proposed $10,800 cap on yearly health
"There are many ways for employees to help offset district costs
for health insurance. The least beneficial means is that of
requiring the employees to return monies to the employer in the
form of a cap," the Daily Globe quotes from the union's brief.
The union goes on to say that the cap "places an unreasonable
burden on its employees." The cost of MESSA's Super Care I plan
is $1,352 a month, according to the brief quoted by the Daily
Globe. The district, in turn, calls that level of coverage
"The fiscal health of the school district and its goal to educate
students cannot be compromised to continue with self-centered
'entitlement' at public taxpayer expense," the Daily Globe quoted
from the district's brief. "These same taxpayers have no
equivalent insurance coverage, yet are expected to fund the
teachers' overly generous and highly inflated benefits at nominal
cost to teachers merely because the teachers want it."
The union countered that health insurance costs have always been
paid by the district, dating back to the first contract in 1967,
and that teachers have begun paying a portion of premiums while
forgoing salary raises, the Daily Globe reported.
Ironwood Daily Globe, "Negotiations in deadlock," Feb. 17, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "UP teachers threaten job actions,"
Jan. 17, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "UP students add voices to labor
battle," Jan. 24, 2006
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Michigan Education Special
Services Association: The MEA's Money Machine," Nov. 1, 1993
MANDATORY FUNDING INCREASE GROUP FACES MAJOR OPPOSITION
LANSING, Mich. — Several statewide organizations are publicly
opposing an effort to mandate annual funding increases for public
education, according to The Saginaw News.
Groups representing law enforcement, townships, counties, home
builders, real estate agents and chambers of commerce are against
the effort, which would mandate that public schools, community
colleges and universities receive yearly funding increases equal
to the rate of inflation, The News reported.
"It's irresponsible to lock something like this in to the
Constitution," David Bertram of the Michigan Townships
Association told The News.
Those opposed to the mandatory increase say it would cost an
additional $1.1 billion in tax money the first year alone, The
News reported. Those who favor the increase say it will cost $700
to $800 million.
The group backing the proposal says it has enough petition
signatures to either ask the Legislature to address the matter or
put it before voters in November, according to The News. It says
the mandate is needed to offset revenue lost since 2001.
"We'd like a legislative resolution to this," said Ken MacGregor,
a spokesman for those who favor the mandatory increases.
Sen. Mike Goschka, R-Brandt, said the effort is "doomed to fail,"
according to The News. He said if the mandatory increases become
law, other areas of the state's $4.3 billion budget may have to
"We're going to have to put criminals on the street by cutting
the corrections budget," Goschka told The News.
Opponents also say such a mandatory funding hikes could force the
state to increase taxes on every Michigan resident, The News
The Saginaw News, "Numerous groups oppose K-16 mandate,"
Feb. 13, 2006
Michigan Education Report, "Jen and the art of education,"
Aug. 15, 2005
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Rally for the Classroom, Not
the Budget Process," June 21, 2005
NEW HOWELL HIGH SCHOOL MIGHT NOT OPEN ON TIME
HOWELL, Mich. — Howell Public Schools might not open a new, $97
million high school in 2007 as planned, according to The Ann
"Right now, it would be our recommendation to not open the
school," Superintendent Chuck Breiner told The News.
Construction on Parker High School began in 2004. District
officials say they have cut $6 million from the budget in recent
years and must cut another $2.4 million before fiscal year 2007
begins July 1, The News reported.
"The bottom line is, we can't open that school unless we have the
money," school board Treasurer Mike Hall told The News. "But
opening that building is the least of our problems — it's keeping
Breiner told The News that Parker would cost $2.2 million to run,
with more than $560,000 of that coming in the form of additional
teacher and support staff costs.
School board Secretary Jeannine Pratt suggested a class-action
lawsuit that Howell and other districts could file against
Michigan, claiming the state does not adequately fund public
schools, The News reported.
Howell now receives $6,875 per-pupil from the state school aid
fund, The News reported.
School Board President Sue Drazic said it will be difficult to
tell taxpayers why the school cannot open, The News reported.
"I don't think our public is going to understand why we've got a
brand new building that they approved that we can't open," she
told The News.
The Ann Arbor News, "Parker opening in jeopardy, say school
officials," Feb. 17, 2006
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "School Funding: Lack of Money
or Lack of Money Management?" Aug. 30, 2001
Michigan Education Digest, "New Ann Arbor high school $3 million
over budget," Dec. 13, 2005
Michigan Education Digest, "New Detroit high school has
structural problems," Jan. 31, 2006
DISTRICTS COULD GET MONEY FOR LOSING STUDENTS
LANSING, Mich. — School districts with dwindling enrollments
would receive more money under Gov. Jennifer Granholm's proposed
budget, according to Booth Newspapers.
Some $50 million would be distributed among 240 districts with
declining enrollment, with the largest amount going to urban
schools, Booth reported. Detroit Public Schools would receive an
additional $19 million, and Flint $2 million. Saginaw, Grand
Rapids and Lansing would each receive more than $1 million.
That money is on top of the proposed $200 increase in the per-pupil foundation grant of $6,875, Booth reported.
Legislators have reacted in a variety of ways to the proposal.
Rep. Glenn Steil Jr., R-Grand Rapids, thinks the extra funding
could reduce school districts' incentive to compete for students,
Booth reported. Rep. John Moolenaar, R-Midland, said he was not
sure if the additional revenue would be available to support the
"Detroit public schools get $19 million of the $50 million," he
told Booth. "I think legislators around the state will ask if
that's fair to their districts."
In Kent County, superintendents from school districts that enroll
"schools-of-choice" students from Grand Rapids Public Schools
rejected a plan to let the urban district keep a portion of the
per-pupil state foundation grant that is tied to those students,
according to The Grand Rapids Press.
Under Michigan's public school choice laws, students who are
assigned to one school can attend a different school within their
intermediate school district or in a contiguous intermediate
school district. The per-pupil funding follows the student to the
new school, The Press reported.
Superintendents in Kent County had discussed a plan to allow GRPS
to keep a portion of those tax dollars for four years after the
student enrolled in his or her new school. The idea was tabled
due to lack of support, The Press reported.
More than 800 students who were previously assigned to GRPS chose
other schools last year, with more than half picking schools in
three neighboring districts, Wyoming, Forest Hills and Caledonia,
The Press reported.
Booth Newspapers, "Lawmakers mull extra money for schools losing
students," Feb. 24, 2006
The Grand Rapids Press, "Districts unwilling to give GR refund,"
Feb. 18, 2006
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Case for Choice in
Schooling: Restoring Parental Control of Education,"
Jan. 29, 2001
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Impact of Limited School
Choice on Public School Districts," July 24, 2000
DETROIT SCHOOL JANITOR SHOT
DETROIT — A janitor at a Detroit public school was shot in the
leg and robbed last week, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Chanhdy Phommarath, 65, was standing outside McMichael Middle
School Friday when two men stole his cell phone and $50, the Free
Press reported. Phommarath was shot in the right leg.
No students were in the school because last week was winter break
for Detroit Public Schools, the Free Press reported. This was the
30th armed robbery at a DPS building this school year.
The Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit recently committed to
recruiting 2,000 volunteers to patrol the district's schools, the
Free Press reported.
The Detroit Free Press, "School janitor shot in Detroit,"
Feb. 24, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Detroit seeks school security
volunteers," Feb. 21, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "DPS still seeking solutions to school
violence," Jan. 24, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Two students stabbed at Detroit high
school; shots fired," Jan. 17, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Detroit school shootings,"
Dec. 13, 2005
SECURITY TIGHTENS IN EAST DETROIT SCHOOLS
EASTPOINTE, Mich. — More security guards and ID badges will cost
taxpayers in East Detroit Public Schools about $160,000,
according to The Detroit News.
Students at East Detroit High School must now wear the
identification badges around their necks, The News reported. A
security door, opened only by a buzzer, also will be installed.
Students late to school will have to pass through it, The News
A total of seven new security guards will be hired, five of which
will be added to the existing eight at the high school. The other
two will be assigned to the district's two middle schools,
according to The News.
More fighting among students prompted the district to take the
action, The News reported.
"We're not experiencing any more difficulty with students than
any other high school or middle school," board of education
Trustee Corrine Harper told The News. "But there is a handful of
kids who get into confrontations, and that makes these kinds of
The Detroit News, "Eastpointe students get ID tags, more
security," Feb. 6, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Livonia schools will add police
presence," Jan. 17, 2006
Michigan Education Report, "The three P's of school safety,"
Nov. 1, 2000
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Private Protection: A Growing
Industry Could Enhance School Safety," Nov. 16, 1998
MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education
a quarterly newspaper
with a circulation of 148,000 published by the Mackinac Center
for Public Policy (https://www.mackinac.org
nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.