Contents of this issue:
Holton staffers drop MESSA
Charter school students perform well on MEAP
Community college employees ask for cheaper MESSA
Holland teachers threaten illegal strike
Ann Arbor schools paid consultant $372,000
Flint schools prepare for enrollment drop
HOLTON STAFFERS DROP MESSA
MUSKEGON, Mich. — Support staff personnel in the Holton schools
have willingly abandoned a union-affiliated insurance provider in
favor of a less expensive health insurance plan, according to The
More than 50 custodians, food service workers, bus drivers,
secretaries and teacher assistants agreed to the contract, which
is retroactive to 2003, The Chronicle reported. It includes a 1
percent wage increase next year.
The employees will switch from the Michigan Education Special
Services Association Supercare I plan to what Superintendent John
Fazer calls "nearly identical" coverage through a health savings
account with SET SEG, The Chronicle reported. The new insurance
will cost taxpayers just over $1,000 a month per employee,
compared to MESSA's cost of $1,360 a month per employee. Employees will pay no deductibles under the less expensive
insurance, The Chronicle reported.
MESSA is a third-party administrator affiliated with the Michigan
Education Association. The district expects to save about
$130,000 the first year by getting rid of MESSA, The Chronicle
The Muskegon Chronicle, "Holton, Whitehall decide they won't
privatize busing," April 25, 2006
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "MESSA Reference Page,"
March 10, 2006
Michigan Education Report, "School districts wrestle high health
care costs," March 7, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Districts consider busing contracts,"
March 21, 2006
CHARTER SCHOOL STUDENTS PERFORM WELL ON MEAP
LANSING, Mich. — Charter schools outperformed their neighboring
conventional public school district on a majority of 2005 MEAP
tests in 18 areas across Michigan, according to information
released by the Michigan Association of Public School Academies.
The comparison, developed by the Michigan Department of
Education, compared charter schools to their "host districts" in
18 cities, MAPSA reported. Charter schools outperformed their
conventional counterpart on 19 of 27 tests, and tied on three
"This academic success — topping state averages, closing
achievement gaps, succeeding in Michigan's urban centers —
affirms the reason parents, educators and community leaders first
created charter schools 12 years ago," according to Dan
Quisenberry, president of MAPSA. "(It)also affirms that charters
are a vital piece of the solution as the state works to
reinvigorate its entire system of public education."
Statewide, one-fourth of all charter schools exceeded the state
average on 10 or more tests, while in Detroit, more than half of
the 39 elementary/middle school charters exceeded the state
average on at least one test. Five Detroit schools topped the
state average on 10 or more, according to MAPSA.
Charter school students in Lansing outperformed the conventional
public school students on all sixth, seventh and eighth grade
tests, while greater percentages of charter school students in
Grand Rapids were proficient on every test, most by 20 to 30
"Families of all walks of life are choosing charters because they
want their children to excel," Quisenberry said. "Charters are
vastly popular in urban settings nationwide, often because
parents feel like their children finally have a fighting chance
to do well in school."
In the 18 districts the Department of Education studied, the
percentage of proficient charter school students with
disabilities was higher than their conventional public school
counterparts by 6 to 15 percentage points in five tested areas;
Hispanic students scored better by 6 to 12 percentage points; and
black students by 2 to 7 points.
Michigan Association of Public School Academies, "MEAP Results
Affirm Charter Progress," April 25, 2006
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Michigan's Public Charter
Schools See MEAP Scores Rise Faster Than Regular Public Schools,"
Sept. 4, 2002
Michigan Education Report, "Statewide MEAP scores mixed,"
Aug. 15, 1999
COMMUNITY COLLEGE EMPLOYEES ASK FOR CHEAPER MESSA
PETOSKEY, Mich. — Faculty and staff members at North Central
Michigan College have voluntarily switched from MESSA Supercare I
to MESSA Choices II, according to the Petoskey News-Review.
The Michigan Education Special Services Association is a third-party administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education
Association. The Association of Faculty and Professional Staff
asked the college to reopen its contract, then accepted the less
expensive insurance, the News-Review reported. The change will
save the college about $194,000 the first year.
"That's really extraordinary," college President Cameron Brunet-Koch told the News-Review. "One of our major goals is to keep our
education affordable. Their action is going to help us continue
to do that."
The contract also was extended, with staff getting 3 percent
raises in 2007-2008 and 2.75 percent raises in 2009-2010 and
2010-2011, the News-Review reported.
Petoskey News-Review, "College budget up 4 percent overall,"
April 19, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Pinckney teachers voluntarily abandon
MESSA," Feb. 7, 2006
Michigan Education Report, "Growing number of districts seek
solutions to costly health insurance," Dec. 15, 2005
HOLLAND TEACHERS THREATEN ILLEGAL STRIKE
HOLLAND, Mich. — The union representing teachers in the Holland
Public Schools could take a strike vote before the next contract
bargaining session with district officials, according to two
Grand Rapids media sources.
Both WOOD TV and The Grand Rapids Press say the Holland Education
Association will hold a strike vote Wednesday, May 3. The next
contract talks are scheduled for May 16. Teacher strikes in
Michigan are illegal under Public Act 112 of 1994.
"The agenda remains the business of the HEA," local union
President Charles Bullard told The Press, refusing to confirm or
deny reports of a strike vote.
The main point of contention in talks between the union and
school is teacher health insurance. Holland Superintendent Frank
Garcia said at a recent education forum that the district will
not back down from a change to less costly insurance, The Press
The school board earlier declared an impasse in negotiations,
which allowed the district to implement an insurance plan for
teachers that is purchased directly from Blue Cross/Blue Shield,
The Press reported. The less expensive insurance replaced
coverage provided through the Michigan Education Special Services
Association, an administrator affiliated with the Michigan
The new, less expensive insurance allows the district to pay for
employee premiums and deductibles, according to The Press. Carol
Minnaar, director of human resources for Holland schools, told
The Press that the district has saved so much money with the new
insurance, it is now giving up to $230 a month extra to each
Tension in the district heightened in April, when an e-mail
targeting Garcia was sent to staff members by union leaders, The
Press reported. The note referred to the administrator as "Farmer
Frank," and said Garcia is "reaping a pretty healthy crop of hard
feelings, mistrust, apathy, wariness and tempers, which are
frayed and fragile," according to The Press. Garcia, a former
migrant farm worker according to The Press, said the e-mail was
"extremely disrespectful and uncivil." In an e-mail to staff,
Garcia said using district computers to spread "personal, racist
and unprofessional attacks," would not be tolerated, The Press
The Grand Rapids Press, "Holland won't back down on insurance,
superintendent says," April 28, 2006
The Grand Rapids Press, "E-mail about 'Farmer Frank' called
'extremely insensitive,'" April 28, 2006
WOOD TV, "Holland teachers to hold strike vote Wednesday,"
May 1, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Holland teachers skip student
events," April 25, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Holland declares second impasse,
teachers get free insurance," Jan. 17, 2006
Michigan Education Report, "School districts wrestle with high
health care costs," March 7, 2006
ANN ARBOR SCHOOLS PAID CONSULTANT $372,000
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Ann Arbor Public Schools has paid a consultant
more than $372,000 since early 2004, according to The Ann Arbor
Jack Baker, who once applied to fill a vacancy on the Ann Arbor
school board, has received the money for work done in association
with a bond for a new high school currently under construction,
as well as other financial matters, The News reported. Baker's
involvement has raised questions.
"I can't really say if he's been good to have at the district or
not, but it seems like he's doing work someone in the
administration building should have been doing," parent Kim Shea
told The News.
Superintendent George Fornero told The News that Baker "helped us
do a lot of things we didn't understand."
Baker, a former IBM executive, also has construction experience,
The News reported, having been a partner with Blue Hill
Development, which has worked on projects at the University of
Baker was involved with the legal aspect of the bond, along with
the negotiation of architectural and construction contracts, The
News reported. Baker also helped Fornero explain why the new
school was $3.3 million over budget, according to The News.
"I have no formal power at all in the district, but I do have
some influence," Baker told The News. "It's really satisfying to
me to see that these projects are helping students."
The Ann Arbor News, "Consultant paid $372K by schools,"
April 24, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "More school construction problems in
Ann Arbor," March 14, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Ann Arbor schools want to learn from
charters," April 11, 2006
FLINT SCHOOLS PREPARE FOR ENROLLMENT DROP
FLINT, Mich. — Flint Public Schools is predicting enrollment
could drop by as many as 900 students next year, according to The
The district in April issued pink slips to 110 teachers in
anticipation of the decline, and is expecting as much as a $10
million deficit, The Journal reported.
The pink slips went to 75 elementary school teachers and 35
secondary teachers, The Journal reported. Nine administrators
also received layoff notices.
"We were shocked because most of our folks had been told there
wouldn't be any pink-slipping this year or very little pink-slipping this year," local teachers union President Steve Burroughs told The Journal.
The Flint school board in March approved a school reform plan
drawn up by Superintendent Walter Milton Jr. that called for
hiring 150 math and reading coaches and teachers, as well as
elementary music, art and physical education teachers, according
to The Journal.
Pink slips were given to 150 Flint teachers in April 2005,
although most of them were called back for the 2005-2006 school
year, The Journal reported. Dale Soper, a teacher in the district
since 1998, has been on the pink slip list every year since 2001,
and has been called back each year.
"I'm waiting for the time they don't do it," Soper, who lives in
Clio, told The Journal. "I still check around during the summer,
put my name in here and there."
The Flint Journal, "Pink slips upset head of teachers union,"
April 26, 2006
Michigan Education Digest, "Saginaw schools consider staff
layoffs," April 11, 2006
Michigan Education Report, "Mott Middle College High School,"
March 7, 2006
MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education
a quarterly newspaper
with a circulation of nearly 150,000 published by the Mackinac
Center for Public Policy (https://www.mackinac.org
nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.