July 16, 2013

Contents of this issue:

  • Judge: Districts cannot collect union dues
  • Pontiac union sues district over MESSA premiums
  • Buena Vista may continue collecting taxes to pay debt
  • New Ypsilanti school district goes all in
  • Eight DPS schools honored for statewide achievement

Judge: Districts Cannot Collect Union Dues

LANSING, Mich. – The state can now bar school districts from collecting teacher union dues, according to MLive.
MLive reports that, previously, the state had been prohibited from implementing a 2012 law that blocked school districts from helping unions collect dues. According to MLive, school districts can continue to collect union dues until past collective bargaining agreements expire or are changed.
SOURCE: MLive, “Injunction in Michigan teacher union dues lawsuit dissolved by federal judge,” 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Court Rules School Districts Cannot Use Public Resources to Withhold Union Dues," May 10, 2013

Pontiac Union Sues District Over MESSA Premiums

PONTIAC, Mich. – The Pontiac Education Association is suing the Pontiac school board, business manager and former superintendent for failing to pay teacher health insurance premiums, according to The Oakland Press.
The Press reports that the PEA alleges that the district took money out of teacher paychecks and put it in the general fund instead of paying health insurance premiums.
According to The Press, the district owes the Michigan Education Special Services Association, a third-party administrator affiliated with the MEA, $7.8 million for 2011-12 premiums, and another $3.3 million for premiums from the 2012-13 school year.
The PEA is asking to have the district pay MESSA, as well as to pay for lost wages and benefits, other lost compensation and attorney fees, The Press reports.
SOURCE: The Oakland Press, “Pontiac teachers file lawsuit, saying health care premiums were misused to fool state,” July 10, 2013
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “In Pontiac, MEA Local Raises $12K For School Supplies While Union Health Insurance Arm Sues District for $7.8 Million,” March 11, 2013

Buena Vista May Continue Collecting Taxes to Pay Debt

BUENA VISTA, Mich. – If the Buena Vista School District is dissolved, it could still continue to collect taxes to repay its debts, according to MLive.
The district owes Saginaw County more than $260,000 in tax adjustments, according to MLive. The county will not forward money to the district, MLive reports, until that bill is paid.
MLive reports that intermediate school districts will have more power under the new school district dissolution law. According to MLive, the Saginaw ISD could end up working to make sure that the debt is paid.
“We’re going to try to absorb the work,” Saginaw ISD Superintendent Richard Syrek told MLive. “I just don’t know that we’re going to be able to. This is so new. We’re all just trying to figure out what we can and can’t do.”
SOURCE: MLive, “Buena Vista School District could keep collecting taxes after dissolution to repay debt,” July 11, 2013
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Close Dysfunctional Schools,” May 16, 2013

New Ypsilanti School District Goes All In

YPSILANTI, Mich. – Less than a month after the Ypsilanti and Willow Run school districts merged, the new Ypsilanti Community Schools has ambitious plans, according to Bridge Magazine.
Bridge reports that the district will have longer school days, 17 more days of instruction, a longer work calendar for employees and that faculty will not work under a union contract.
The new district will operate with a $50 million budget, according to Bridge, with plans to eliminate the previous Ypsilanti and Willow Run’s deficits within 10 or 15 years.
“We have the unique opportunity to create something that really reflects 21st century education,” YCS Superintendent Scott Menzel told Bridge Magazine, “that addresses the academic challenges and struggles that both districts were facing, and allows us to build a sustainable budget from the ground up to address the economic challenges that really called into question the ability of the districts to survive independently.
SOURCE: Bridge Magazine, “After merger, school districts bet on longer days, longer calendar to revive fortunes,” July 11, 2013
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Legislator, Union Want Tenured Teachers From Dissolved Districts Hired First In Other Schools,” June 28, 2013

Eight DPS Schools Honored For Statewide Achievement

DETROIT – Eight Detroit Public Schools elementary and middle schools were honored for their performance on a statewide study published by the Mackinac Center, according to WXYZ TV7.
WXYZ reports that the Thirkell Elementary was the top-performing elementary and middle school in the state on the Center’s report card, though the Michigan Department of Education had previously given the school a low score.
Thirkell Principal Dr. Clara Smith told WXYZ that discipline was the key to Thirkell’s success. “Once [students] are disciplined and they know the rules, then they are ready to learn.”

SOURCE: WXYZ TV7, “Thirkell is at the head of the class among Michigan’s elementary and middle schools” July 9, 2013
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “The Michigan Context and Performance Report Card: Public Elementary & Middle Schools, 2013,” June 2013