Short Subjects

A Macomb County judge upheld the hiring of six teachers from a private company by Armada Area Schools and criticized the Armada Education Association for requesting a temporary restraining order against the move. The long-term substitute teachers were hired in January as a cost-saving move. The teachers’ union claimed the hiring violated its collective bargaining agreement, but Judge Donald Miller said the teachers’ union appeared more worried about pay than about education.

Hazel Park Schools saved a program for at-risk 4-year-olds by hiring nonunion teachers at a lower cost. An article in the Madison-Park News said the district considered eliminating the program because grant money did not cover the costs, but that the district and the Hazel Park Education Association agreed that the district should hire three nonunion teachers for the program at a substantially lower wage than the union contract requires.

Five companies submitted bids to the Buchanan school district to provide custodial services in response to the district’s request for proposals. Bidders were asked to give the district’s current 12 custodial workers first consideration when planning staffing, according to a report in the South Bend Tribune. Bids ranged from about $360,000 to $560,000. School officials said increases in health care premiums and retirement costs prompted the district to seek cost savings through contracting.

A Clinton teacher has resigned in a conflict over his refusal to wear an identification badge. Steve Walters, fired by the Clinton Board of Education in March, originally said he would appeal the dismissal to the Michigan State Teacher Tenure Commission. He later withdrew his appeal and resigned, according to local news accounts, saying that even if his individual firing were overturned, the same policy would be in place in the school district. The district has required staff to wear identification badges since January as a security measure, but Walters said the badges and security cameras create an atmosphere of fear and suspicion.

Free Soil Community Schools will not offer a high school program next year due to low enrollment and corresponding budget pressures, the Ludington Daily News reported in March. The Board of Education of the Mason County school district said it will attempt to continue a K-8 program. Last year the community held numerous fund-raisers, like a spaghetti dinner and scrap metal drive, to allow the high school it to remain open for 2006-2007.

The Detroit Federation of Teachers owes about $2 million in past dues to its state and national affiliates and is working out a payment plan with the organizations to avoid going broke by September. The union’s cash-flow problems were caused in part by the purchase of a new building in 2004, unbudgeted costs from a two-week strike last fall and declining membership, according to President Virginia Cantrell. Cantrell, who was elected in December, said the organization’s budget problems could be compounded by the school district’s own money woes, which administration officials said could lead to more layoffs – and subsequent dips in union membership and dues – for next school year.

The Ann Arbor school district has offered buyouts to about 170 teachers to reduce costs and avoid layoffs for the next school year. The proposed buyouts, which must be approved by the union and the school board, are part of a plan to cut $7.4 million from next year’s budget, The Ann Arbor News reported in March that the cuts would allow the district to balance the 2007-2008 budget without taking money from the district’s $23 million cash reserve fund.