Contents of this issue:
Muskegon ISD looking to privatize busing
Union unhappy with district newsletter to residents
House passes graduation standards
Detroit teacher robbed in school
New Mona Shores contract includes MESSA changes
List of convicts working in schools slated for end of March
MUSKEGON ISD LOOKING TO PRIVATIZE BUSING
MUSKEGON, Mich. — The Muskegon Area Intermediate School District
is looking to privatize transportation for six local districts,
according to The Muskegon Chronicle.
The districts — Fruitport, Holton, Muskegon Heights, Oakridge,
Reeths-Puffer and Whitehall — would turn over employee management
to a private company, but keep their buses, The Chronicle
reported. If a private company is hired, it would be encouraged
to retain the 145 bus drivers now working in those districts.
School officials estimate they could reduce costs by about
$280,000 a year if they no longer must contribute to a state
employee retirement system, The Chronicle reported. School
districts next year must contribute 17.74 percent of salaries to
"We're working with other districts to see if there's a way to
save dollars for the classroom," Fruitport Superintendent
Nicholas Ceglarek told The Chronicle. "That's the key to it: to
put as many dollars as we can into the classroom."
If the drivers worked for a private firm, the districts would
also reduce the cost of contributing to a health insurance plan
affiliated with the Michigan Education Association, The Chronicle
reported. Overall, benefits in the six districts for bus drivers
cost nearly $1.4 million a year.
Kathleen Oakes, a union representative with the MEA, said the
drivers question the need for the change, according to The
Chronicle. Drivers have attended Reeths-Puffer board meetings,
where a projected $830,000 deficit also prompted officials to
look at privatizing custodial and food service operations.
The Muskegon Chronicle, "Districts weigh bus driver
privatization," Feb. 25, 2006
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Survey: School Outsourcing
Grows," Oct. 27, 2005
Michigan Education Report, "Grand Rapids board privatizes
busing," Aug. 16, 2005
Michigan Education Digest, "GRPS private busing gets positive
reviews," Sept. 6, 2005
UNION UNHAPPY WITH DISTRICT NEWSLETTER TO RESIDENTS
LESLIE, Mich. — The teachers union in the Leslie Public Schools
has filed an unfair labor complaint against the school board over
a newsletter that explains the district's financial status to
taxpayers, according to The Jackson Citizen Patriot.
The complaint by the Leslie Education Association says the
newsletter gives specific bargaining details relevant to the
ongoing contract negotiations, The Citizen Patriot reported.
"The document is misleading and contains inaccurate information,"
a press release from the union said, according to The Citizen
Superintendent Robert Howe Jr. disagreed. He told The Citizen
Patriot that the union complaint is a ploy.
"This almost gets in the way of progress more than it helps,"
Howe said. "This is a pressure tactic. It's part of what the MEA
does when negotiations are not going their way."
The eight-page newsletter, titled "Leslie Highlights," details
the district's revenues and expenditures, including enrollment
declines. The district says employee health insurance costs have
gone up 15 percent each year since 2000, while retirement
increases and automatic pay raises this year will cost about
$170,000, according to The Citizen Patriot.
"We made every attempt to give information to the public without
a slant," Howe said. "We have nothing bad to say about any of our
teachers — they are great people and great teachers. The bottom
line is their proposals cost more than we can afford."
The Michigan Employment Relations Commission has scheduled a June
1 hearing on the complaint, The Citizen Patriot reported.
The Jackson Citizen Patriot, "Union files labor complaint,"
Feb. 28, 2006
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Collective Bargaining:
Bringing Education to the Table," Aug. 1, 1998
Michigan Education Digest, "Teachers union faces unfair labor
charge," Nov. 22, 2005
Michigan Education Digest, "Union files unfair labor complaint
against Holland district," Nov. 9, 2004
HOUSE PASSES GRADUATION STANDARDS
LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan House of Representatives passed a
bill that increases the number of state graduation requirements,
but is not the same set of requirements approved in December by
the State Board of Education, according to The Detroit News.
The bill, which must still be approved by the state Senate and
Gov. Jennifer Granholm, would require the class of 2010 —
students who will be freshmen this fall — to pass four credits
each of math and English, three credits each of science and
social studies and one credit each in physical education and fine
arts, The News said. Missing from the proposal is a requirement
of two credits of foreign language.
The bill also allows students who finish 10th grade to choose an
alternative curriculum that does not include math and science,
The News reported.
"The governor believes the early opt-out is a cop-out," Liz Boyd,
Gov. Granholm's spokeswoman, told The News.
Some local school officials have raised concerns that there might
not be enough qualified teachers to cover the high-end math and
science classes, and that the availability of vocational
education courses might suffer, The News reported.
The Detroit News, "House toughens standards for graduation,"
March 3, 2006
, "2006 House Bill 5606 (Mandate High School
Michigan Education Digest, "Graduation standards put future of
vocation ed in doubt," Feb. 14, 2006
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Hope in State Graduation
Standards Misplaced," Jan. 3, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "State board approves graduation
requirements," Dec. 20, 2005
DETROIT TEACHER ROBBED INSIDE SCHOOL
DETROIT — A Detroit Public Schools teacher on March 1 was robbed
at gunpoint inside Owen Elementary School, according to the
Detroit Free Press. The incident occurred about an hour before
students arrived for classes.
The man entered the school through a window and waited, then took
the woman's purse, the Free Press reported. She is the 31st crime
victim on or near Detroit school property since August.
"We are sitting ducks," teacher Ruby Johnson told the Free Press.
She was robbed at Marquette Elementary/Middle School last June
and now carries a hammer for protection.
Students and parents are concerned, too.
"He might do it again tomorrow," Tiffany Lipsey, a second grader,
told the Free Press.
Debra Lipsey, Tiffany's mother, told the Free Press she will be
more careful when walking her daughter to school, and won't carry
The recently elected DPS school board is considering an offer
from Wayne County Sheriff Warren Evans, who said his office
should take over security for the school district, according to
the Free Press. A group of Detroit ministers also is trying to
recruit and train 2,000 safety volunteers to work in the city's
The Free Press also reported that DPS will spend $600,000 to hire
laid-off Detroit police officers to work in the schools.
Detroit Free Press, "Teacher latest victim in school crime wave,"
March 2, 2006
Detroit Free Press, "Laid-off city police could aid schools,"
March 3, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Detroit school janitor shot,"
Feb. 28, 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
NEW MONA SHORES CONTRACT INCLUDES MESSA CHANGES
MUSKEGON, Mich. — Teachers in the Mona Shores school district
will pay more to keep costly health insurance under a new
contract, according to The Muskegon Chronicle.
Teachers will get 2 percent raises per year, retroactive to the
2004-2005 school year, through 2006-2007, and a 1 percent raise
for 2007-2008, The Chronicle reported.
Effective April 1, teachers' health care deductibles will double,
to $100 per person or $200 per family, for teachers who want to
keep Super Care I through the Michigan Education Special Services
Association. MESSA is a third-party insurance administrator
affiliated with the largest teachers union in the state, the
Michigan Education Association.
Premiums for the health insurance will be $500 a year through the
end of September for Super Care I, but will increase to $900 on
Oct. 1, The Chronicle reported. Teachers can opt for a less
expensive PPO, MESSA Choices 2, and avoid those fees.
Retiree benefits also change under the new contract, according to
The Chronicle. Starting in June 2007, retirees will no longer
have free health insurance through MESSA, because they are
already covered by the Michigan Public Schools Retirement System,
which school districts are required to pay into.
The contract took more than a year to settle and included
sometimes heated negotiations between the school board and the
Mona Shores Teachers Education Association, The Chronicle
reported. Teachers used T-shirts, buttons and signs to protest
the lack of a contract, picketed school board meetings and even
opened a "crisis center" across from the district's
"We're relieved and happy that it's settled," Keith Sauter, union
vice president, told The Chronicle. "It took a lot of work on
both sides to reach. Overall, it's a fair agreement."
A January budget forecast said Mona Shores faced a $2.1 million
deficit for the 2006-2007 school year, The Chronicle reported.
The Muskegon Chronicle, "Teachers, school board sign four-year
contract," March 3, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Contract tensions go public in
Muskegon," Nov. 15, 2005
Mona Shores Public Schools, "An Open Letter to Residents of the
Mona Shores School District," Oct. 27, 2005
Michigan Education Digest, "District Taps Savings for Retiree
Insurance, Deficit," July 19, 2005
Michigan Education Digest, "Muskegon-area School Districts Settle
on Contracts," Sept. 13, 2005
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Teachers Deserve Good
Benefits; Schools Deserve To Know What They Cost," July 6, 1998
LIST OF CONVICTS WORKING IN SCHOOLS SLATED FOR END OF MARCH
LANSING, Mich. — State officials are promising a more accurate
list of convicted criminals working in Michigan's schools,
according to Booth Newspapers.
The Michigan State Police is compiling the list and will use
names, dates of birth, gender and Social Security numbers to
eliminate false-positive matches, Booth reported.
"The Michigan State Police will use its expertise to individually
verify the information to eliminate false positives and remove
the burden of proof from individual school employees," Col. Tadarial J. Sturdivant, director of the State Police, according
A list was sent to school districts in early February with some
1,500 names of school employees that matched those in the State
Police criminal database. That list was blocked from public
release and ordered to be recalled by two different judges, due
to complaints about the list's accuracy, Booth reported.
The Michigan Department of Education expects the list to be given
to schools around March 31, Booth reported. According to
, legislators are now considering House Bill
5675, which would exempt the lists school districts receive from
Freedom of Information Act requests for 14 days. Districts could
use this time to independently verify the information on the
Booth Newspapers, "State police revamp school employee criminal
list," Feb. 22, 2006
, "2006 House Bill 5675 (Revise convicted school
employee list requirements)"
Michigan Education Digest, "Judge blocks release of names; new
list complete by March 1," Feb. 14, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "State wants employee list back," Feb.
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Parents Still Have an Option
to Check Kids' Safety," Feb. 2, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Schools get names of employees with
criminal backgrounds," Feb. 7, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Court seals data on school employees
with criminal backgrounds," Jan. 31, 2006
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.