May 20, 2014

Contents of this issue:

  • Legislature could move testing to Treasury Department
  • Lansing to privatize transportation services
  • EAA teacher who broke up fight reinstated
  • Changes to school bond program driving property taxes up
  • ‘Buddy bench’ coming to Battle Creek elementary school

Legislature Could Move Testing to Treasury Department

LANSING, Mich. – Legislators are considering moving school testing authority from the Michigan Department of Education to the Michigan Department of Treasury, according to MLive.

MLive reports that the move is being considered because of a disagreement between legislators and the education department over what state test will be administered next year.
Legislators have added a requirement that the MEAP test be administered for the next two years, according to MLive. But the education department, MLive reports, has claimed that doing so would put Michigan at risk of losing federal funding.
Legislators, in comparison, are skeptical that continuing to administer the MEAP will put funding at risk, according to MLive.

SOURCE: MLive, “MEAP testing fight could see Michigan treasury department gain oversight of exams,” May 16, 2014 

FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “MEAP may stay for a couple more years,” May 13, 2014

Lansing to Privatize Transportation Services

LANSING, Mich. – The Lansing School District voted 6-1 to privatize transportation services at the district, the Lansing State Journal reports.

According to the State Journal, contracting with Dean Transportation to provide bus services will save the district $760,000 per year.
The State Journal reports that the school board also voted to lay off up to 95 employees.
Lansing is overspending, according to the State Journal, and the district needs to trim $6 million from its total budget.

SOURCE: Lansing State Journal, “Lansing school board votes to privatize busing, approves up to 95 layoffs,” May 16, 2014 

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Two-Thirds of School Districts Contract for at Least One Major Support Service, According to Center’s 2013 School Privatization Survey," Jan. 21, 2014 

EAA Teacher Who Broke Up Fight Reinstated

DETROIT – An Education Achievement Authority teacher made headlines recently when she was fired for breaking up a student fight with a broomstick, MLive reports. The teacher has since been reinstated, according to MLive.

Tiffani Eaton, the teacher, will receive back pay for the period she was suspended from the school, MLive reports, and is being given the option to work at another EAA school.

SOURCE: MLive, “Detroit teacher who used broomstick to break up fight gets job back,” May 13, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Shedding light on teacher contracts," May 5, 2008 

Changes to School Bond Program Driving Property Taxes Up

MILAN, Mich. – Though Milan voters approved a tax levy of 8.04 mills, taxes will exceed that rate, according to the Milan News-Leader.

The News-Leader reports that changes to the Michigan School Bond Loan program will drive the tax rate higher. A law passed in 2012 requires districts to adjust their bond repayment rate if the district is not unable to pay off its bond within the required time period, according to the News-Leader.
The levy could increase up to 13 mills, the News-Leader reports. Milan voters initially authorized the tax levy in 2002, and then in 2009 voted to extend it through 2037, according to the News-Leader.

SOURCE: Milan News-Leader, Change in loan program to cause hike in Milan property taxes,” May 17, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Michigan Public Schools $19.7 Billion in Debt, March 8, 2012 

‘Buddy Bench’ Coming to Battle Creek Elementary School

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. – Battle Creek students are working with a local company to bring a “buddy bench” to their school, according to WWMT 3.

A buddy bench is a bench where students who are feeling lonely can sit and wait for a new buddy to come join them, WWMT 3 reports.
Students are working with Landscape Forms, a local company, to build the bench, according to WWMT 3. Landscape Design is funding the construction of a buddy bench at Battle Creek’s Urbandale Elementary school, WWMT 3 reports.
The buddy bench will be finished by the end of the school year, according to WWMT 3.

SOURCE: WWMT 3, “Schools installing Buddy Benches for kids who need a friend,” May 16, 2014
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “School districts required to create anti-bullying policy,” Dec. 12, 2011