Contents of this issue:

  • Senate OKs 80/20 plan on health insurance
  • Facing deficit, Flint considers outsourcing
  • Harbor Beach offers $30,000 retirement incentive
  • No shared principals in Ann Arbor
  • College reconsiders senior tuition waivers

Senate OKs 80/20 Plan on Health Insurance

LANSING, Mich. — Public employees would be required to pay at least 20 percent of their health insurance premiums under legislation approved by the state Senate, while a separate bill would curtail automatic teacher pay hikes in cases when a contract has expired, according to media reports.

Sen. Mark Jansen, R-Gaines Township, said the insurance contribution would bring public-sector cost sharing in line with the private sector, where workers often pay more than 20 percent of their health insurance premium, according to Mlive. The arrangement, which also would apply to legislators, would save public employers more than $500 million annually, the report said.

Employee contributions in school districts currently vary from zero to more than 20 percent, the report said. The legislation would allow county and municipal employers to exempt themselves from the 80-20 requirement with a two-thirds vote of the governing board, according to Mlive.

Sen. John Gleason, D-Flushing, called the move a power grab that attacks the collective bargaining privileges of teachers and other public employees, Mlive reported.

In related news, teachers would no longer receive automatic “step increases” once a collective bargaining contract has expired, and would no longer be able to bargain retroactive pay increases under legislation that Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to sign, The Muskegon Chronicle reported.

The Muskegon Chronicle, “Teacher ‘step increases,’ retroactive wages curtailed in bill headed for Gov. Snyder,” May 18, 2011, “Michigan Senate passes bill requiring public workers to pay 20 percent of health insurance premiums,” May 18, 2011

MichiganVotes, “2011 Senate Bill 7 - Mandate 20 percent government employee health benefit contribution,” Jan. 19, 2011

MichiganVotes, “House Bill 4152 - Limit certain automatic government union employee pay hikes,” Jan. 26, 2011

Facing deficit, Flint considers outsourcing

FLINT, Mich. — Flint Community Schools will enter talks with private companies on providing transportation and maintenance services as school trustees look for ways to reduce spending by $9.5 million to balance next year’s budget, The Flint Journal reported.

Concurrently, the trustees rejected a custodial services bid that would have saved the district an estimated $2.5 million, but that board members said set wages too low, The Journal reported. A representative from that firm told trustees there is room to negotiate on wages.

The district also will continue talks with union employees who currently provide non-instructional services, according to The Journal.

Failure to balance the budget could lead to the state appointing an emergency financial manager, some board members said, according to The Journal.

“That financial manger can come in and make changes you don't like,” said board member Fred Bashir, according to The Journal.

The Flint Journal, “Flint schools moves step closer to outsourcing services,” May 18, 2011

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Michigan School Privatization Survey 2010,” Nov. 30, 2010

No Shared Principals in Ann Arbor

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Ann Arbor Public Schools trustees rejected an administration proposal to save up to $200,000 by sharing two principals among four elementary schools in 2011-2012, instead directing administrators to spend enough money from fund equity to place one principal in each building,  according to the Ann Arbor Chronicle.

Interim Superintendent Robert Allen has said that the goal of sharing principals was to prevent closing a school and to maintain flexibility in view of uncertain state funding, the Chronicle reported, but many in the community were opposed.

Critics said some of the schools in question need full-time principals because they enroll a large proportion of low-income and special education students. They also objected to a plan for “lead teachers” to fill in when the principal is out of the building, and noted that the projected savings is minimal compared to the $15 million that must be cut from next year’s spending plan, the Chronicle reported.

Two trustees said it was premature to eliminate the option before the district knows next year’s state funding levels. Trustee Christine Stead also said that she would rather save on principals in order to retain teaching jobs, the Chronicle reported.

Ann Arbor Chronicle, “AAPS Board: No Principal Sharing in 2011-2012,” May 17, 2011

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Commentary: Five Easy Questions to Ask School Officials,” May 10, 2011

Harbor Beach offers $30,000 retirement incentive

HARBOR BEACH, Mich.  — Harbor Beach Community Schools again will offer a one-time $30,000 retirement incentive to any teacher with at least 12 years of employment with the district, according to the Huron Daily Tribune.

Last year nine teachers agreed to a similar offer, according to the Tribune; only a few educators are eligible this year. Teachers at the top of the salary scale receive approximately $100,000 annually in wages and benefits, Superintendent Ron Kraft said, according to the Tribune.

If three teachers at the top of the scale retire, that is equivalent to five teachers at the bottom of the salary schedule, Kraft said, the Tribune reported. He said that the teachers union approached him about offering the incentive again this year.

Huron Daily Tribune, “HB school offers severance incentive,” May 13, 2011

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Should Education Money only be for K-12?”  April 29, 2011

College Reconsiders Senior Tuition Waivers

CENTREVILLE, Mich. — Glen Oaks Community College may rethink its practice of offering free tuition to students age 60 or older, an offer that has led some seniors to enroll full-time in the college’s nursing program, according to the Three Rivers Commercial-News. That is one of Glen Oaks’ most expensive programs.

The waivers cost the college about $15,000 last year, President Gary Wheeler told trustees at a recent meeting, the Commercial-News reported. Wheeler said that state law allows for senior citizen tuition waivers, but doesn’t require it, according to the Commercial-News. He said a number of enrollees are retraining for second careers.

Trustees took no action to change the current policy, though they discussed raising the minimum age for free tuition to 65, or placing tuition-waived seniors in classes on a space-available basis only.

Three Rivers Commercial-News, “Glen Oaks/Trine link discussed,” May 12, 2011

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Helpful Facts about Michigan’s Public Sector,” March 15, 2011

MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (, an online newspaper published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (, a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Lorie Shane at

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