Contents of this issue:

  • Teachers likely to pay larger share of health care
  • Judge: CMU faculty must work as fact finding proceeds
  • Kansas City superintendent takes on Michigan’s worst schools
  • Madison contract includes schedule freeze
  • Would ‘family leave’ boost school involvement?

Health Care Spending Limit Bill Sent to Snyder

LANSING, Mich. — A new bill intended to rein in government spending on public employee health care plans is headed to Gov. Rick Snyder following House and Senate approval on Wednesday, according to The Detroit News.

If Gov. Snyder signs it, the legislation would cap public employers’ contribution toward employee health insurance at $5,500 for an individual, $11,000 for a couple and $15,000 for a family plan, The News reported. Alternatively, the employer and employee could split the cost 80 percent to 20 percent, respectively, according to The News.

The measure would apply to municipalities, counties, school districts, the Legislature and other public entities, The News reported, but not to state workers under the authority of the Michigan Civil Service Commission.

Local government entities and school districts that refuse to enact the caps could lose state funding, according to a separate report by The Associated Press. However, a city or county could opt out of the mandates and still retain all state funding if two-thirds of its governing body agrees to do so, AP reported. School districts are not allowed to opt out, according to AP.

“For too long, (public employee health care) has been like going to a grocery store with your shopping cart and picking everything you want off the shelf,” said Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, according to The News. “Now we have to be aware of what we are spending.”

“It's an act of big government to impose its will on small governments,” Sen. Coleman Young II, D-Detroit, said Wednesday, The News reported.


The Detroit News, “Health care cap for public employers sent to Snyder,” Aug. 25, 2011

The Associated Press, “Health care spending cap seen as another blow to unions,” Aug. 25, 2011


Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Benefits in Balance

Judge: CMU Faculty Must Work as Fact Finding Proceeds

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. — An Isabella County judge ruled Friday that Central Michigan University faculty must continue to teach classes as fact finding proceeds between the faculty union and the administration over a new contract, The Saginaw News reported.

The Faculty Association, which represents about 600 tenured or tenure-track faculty, and the university administration will present their cases to a Michigan Employment Relations Commission appointee in three hearings in early September, according to The News. Faculty were on strike for one day before the university sought a court injunction.

In the interim, the university must offer faculty a $10/$20 prescription drug benefit plan through the Michigan Educational Special Services Association, The News reported, and pay them salary and other benefits according to the contract that expired June 20.

The judge also said that the faculty can resume picketing, The News reported.


The Saginaw News, “Isabella County judge extends injunction, faculty must teach,” Aug. 26, 2011


Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “CMU Strike: Standing Firm is Not Bad Faith,” Aug. 22, 2011

Kansas City Superintendent Takes on Michigan’s Worst Schools

DETROIT — John Covington, former chancellor of Kansas City, Mo., schools, will head the Michigan authority charged with overseeing the state’s worst-performing schools, The Detroit News reported.

Covington will head the new Education Achievement System, which is charged with running the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools in the state, beginning with 34 schools in Detroit in 2012-2013, according to The News.

Some criticized the $175,000 signing bonus and $225,000 base salary that Covington will receive under a four-year contract, but a spokesman for the Kansas City district as well as the teachers’ union president there both praised Covington’s leadership, The News reported.

“(He helped) bring a new energy to the district,” Andrea Flinders, president of the Kansas City chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, told The News.

Under Covington’s tenure, the Kansas City schools grouped elementary students by ability and required them to demonstrate skills before moving on to the next grade, supporters told The News.


The Detroit News, “Covington to run troubled Michigan schools,” Aug. 27, 2011


Michigan Education Digest, “Detroit Unions Sue over Pay Cut,” Aug. 8, 2011

Madison Contract Includes Schedule Freeze

MADISON TWP., Mich. — Madison School District teachers have agreed to a new contract that includes a wage freeze and higher health care contributions, The (Adrian) Daily Telegram reported. Officials there told The Telegram that the teachers and district both wanted to sign a contract before a new state law on teacher health care costs takes effect.

The one-year agreement will freeze the salary schedule at the 2010-2011 level and only allows step increases if enrollment increases by at least 35 students, according to The Telegram. Teachers will pay 15 percent of their health insurance premiums, up from 8 percent last year, the Telegram reported.

The Michigan Legislature last week passed a bill that would cap the amount school districts are allowed to contribute toward health insurance per employee, according to separate media reports. (See related item in today’s Michigan Education Digest.) However, even if signed by Gov. Rick Snyder, the new measure would not take immediate effect in districts with signed contracts.

Madison Education Association President Mary Radant told The Telegram that teachers in Madison now will pay about $262 per month toward a family health plan, up from $128 per month. The district will continue to purchase insurance through the Michigan Education Special Services Association, an affiliate of the Michigan Education Association, Radant told The Telegram.


The (Adrian) Daily Telegram, “Madison teachers’ contract reached,” Aug. 23, 2011


Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Benefits in Balance

Would ‘Family Leave’ Boost School Involvement?

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids school officials like the idea of allowing parents unpaid time off work so they can attend school conferences or their children’s tutoring sessions, The Grand Rapids Press reported.

District spokesman John Helmholdt said Grand Rapids Public Schools leaders believe that the Family Education Leave Act proposed in the state Legislature would help students, The Press reported. The measure would require employers to allow parents to take up to eight hours a year off work, unpaid, for school involvement.

“For us, there are problems with parents attending conferences because so many of our students come from single-parent homes and the parent can't get off from work,” he said, according to The Press.

Rep. Brandon Dillon, D-Grand Rapids, is sponsoring the Family Education Leave Act in the state House, and a similar bill has been submitted in the Senate, according to The Press. Twelve other states already have “school involvement leave” policies, according to The Press.


The Grand Rapids Press, “Grand Rapids Public Schools leaders say family leave would be a form of community ‘partnership’,” Aug. 25, 2011


Michigan Education Digest, “Carrot and stick for Detroit parents,” Oct. 28, 2010

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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