Contents of this issue:

  • Beaverton teachers drop MESSA for Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • Comcast expands eligibility for ‘Internet Essentials’
  • Portage declines to fully privatize custodial work
  • USDE to investigate Muskegon Heights over use of funds
  • DPS teacher charged with defrauding district
  • Mackinac Center releases new school funding myth video

Beaverton Teachers Drop MESSA for Blue Cross Blue Shield

BEAVERTON, Mich. — Teachers at Beaverton Rural Schools have dropped MESSA and adopted Blue Cross Blue Shield as their insurance provider in their new three-year contract, according to The Midland Daily News. The switch will save the school district about $300,000 annually. MESSA is the Michigan Education Special Services Association, a third-party administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association teachers union.

The Daily News reports the district will also replace the 15 percent copay with a hard cap for premiums, a move that will save each teacher between $100 and $400 per month.


The Midland Daily News, “Beaverton Schools approve teacher contract after 19 months of negotiations," Feb. 1, 2012


Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Schools Should Fund Learning, Not Insurance Companies,” Jan. 9, 2012

Comcast Expands Eligibility for ‘Internet Essentials’

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Comcast has announced it is expanding eligibility for “Internet Essentials,” a program that provides Internet access to the households of disadvantaged students, according to The Grand Rapids Press. The program had been available only to households with children who qualified for “free” school lunches, but will now be an option for families with children who receive reduced-price lunches as well.

According to The Press, Comcast launched the program as a way to ensure that economically disadvantaged students had access to digital tools that would help them perform better academically. Families enrolled in the program pay just $9.95 for Internet access and have the option to buy a computer for $149.99, The Press reported.

While state and local data is currently unavailable, The Press reports that more than 41,000 households across the country have been enrolled in Internet Essentials so far. There are approximately 3.5 million households nationally that could qualify for the program.


The Grand Rapids Press, “Comcast expands eligibility rules to get $9.99 Internet to students receiving reduced price lunch,” Feb. 2, 2012


Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Digital Learning Growth in Michigan,” Nov. 14, 2011

Portage Declines to Fully Privatize Custodial Work

PORTAGE, Mich. — The Portage School Board has decided not to privatize its first-shift custodial services, according to The Kalamazoo Gazette. The move would have saved the district $270,000 annually.

The district has contracted with Grand Rapids Building Services for second- and third-shift custodians since 2009, according to The Gazette. That contract was set to expire in August, but GRBS offered a $50,000 bonus if the board renewed by Feb. 1. It was at the meeting to renew the contract that GRBS offered to take over the rest of the district’s custodial services.

"We've been using an outsource model there as a cost savings, but prior boards have elected not to use the outsource model for the first-shift custodians in the buildings," Bo Snyder, president of the school board, told The Gazette.


The Kalamazoo Gazette, “Portage schools to continue outsourcing some custodial work,” Jan. 30, 2012


Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Portage Schools Turns Down $270K Savings,” Feb. 3, 2012

USDE to Investigate Muskegon Heights Over Use of Funds

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. — The Michigan State Police has closed its investigation of Muskegon Heights Public Schools, but the U.S. Department of Education is going to open its own, according to WZZM-TV.

The Michigan attorney general’s office had been investigating the district’s use of federal Title I funds. According WZZM-TV, that investigation has been closed and no criminal charges will be filed.

WZZM-TV reports that now the U.S. Department of Education’s office of inspector general is looking into the matter. Muskegon Heights acting Superintendent Dave Sipka told WZZM-TV he was expecting the Department of Education to review the district after the state completed their investigation.

According to WZZM-TV, Muskegon Heights employees were told to expect some of their pay days to be delayed due to the district’s financial situation.


WZZM-TV, “Feds to review Muskegon Heights schools case,” Feb. 3, 2012


Michigan Education Report, “Muskegon Heights privatizes some positions, saves $1.2 million,” Jan. 30, 2012

DPS Teacher Charged With Defrauding District

DETROIT — A federal grand jury has indicted a Detroit Public Schools teacher and her mother, a former contractor in the district’s accounting office, on charges of program fraud conspiracy, money laundering and tax fraud, according to The Detroit News.

Domonique Campbell and her mother Sandra Campbell are charged with purchasing $530,000 worth of books and school supplies from a non-existent company between 2004 and 2008 and pocketing the money, The News reports. Both women were released on $10,000 unsecured bonds.

According to The News, Domonique Campbell was suspended with pay awaiting a disciplinary hearing.


The Detroit News, “Teacher, mother charged with defrauding DPS of more than $530,000,” Feb. 2, 2012


Michigan Education Report, “Detroit Public Schools shows first surplus in four years” Dec. 6, 2011

Mackinac Center Releases New School Funding Myth Video

MIDLAND, Mich. — The Mackinac Center for Public Policy has released a new video exploring the claim that public schools in Michigan receive unequal levels of funding. The video explains that as a result of Proposal A school funding today is more equal than it has ever been.

The Mackinac Center for Public policy publishes Michigan Education Digest.


The Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “The Unequal School Funding Myth,” Feb. 6, 2012


The Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “School Funding In Michigan: Common Myths

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 Kyle Jackson at

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