June 24, 2014

Contents of this issue:

  • MESSA insurance costs increase 13 percent for Grand Blanc
  • NYC school leader to head EAA
  • DPS overspending crisis continues: District short by $127M
  • Saginaw district takes out loan to make payroll
  • Muskegon Heights to stay open for 2014-15
  • Education candidate forum in Detroit on July 8

MESSA Insurance Costs Increase 13 percent for Grand Blanc

GRAND BLANC, Mich. – Just six months into their new health option, Grand Blanc teachers are seeing costs increase dramatically, according to MLive.

MLive reports that Grand Blanc teachers buy health insurance from the Michigan Education Special Services Association, a union-affiliated third-party administrator.
“We’re paying more out of pocket at a time when we’re making less money,” Grand Blanc Education Association President Gary Smith told MLive.
The cost paid by teachers on a family plan is increasing from $3,408 to $3,800, according to MLive. Further, MLive reports, the Grand Blanc district will have to pay nearly $500,000 more to cover the increase in MESSA costs.
“We budgeted for a 10 percent increase, but even with that we thought we would be higher and then to get the 13 percent – it was a total surprise for us,” Grand Blanc Superintendent Norman Abdella told MLive.

SOURCE: MLive, “Grand Blanc teachers, district get hit with 13 percent insurance rate increase,” June 18, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “District Dumps Union Insurance, Saves $450K and Pays 100% of Health Care,” July 19, 2013 

NYC School Leader to Head EAA

DETROIT – Veronica Conforme, former chief operating officer of New York City public schools, will be taking over the statewide Education Achievement Authority as interim chancellor, Michigan Radio reports.

According to Michigan Radio, Conforme was one of three finalists to oversee public schools in New Orleans, and has past experience working with the EAA on organizational issues, among other things.
Conforme told Michigan Radio that she will be conducting a “top-to-bottom assessment” of the EAA, which will take several weeks.
Michigan Radio reports that no large changes will be made to the EAA until after Conforme’s assessment.

SOURCE: Michigan Radio, “New EAA chief: School reform district has already “shattered the status quo,” but needs to do better,” June 19, 2014 

FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “EAA head may resign,” June 17, 2014 

DPS Overspending Crisis Continues: District Short by $127M

DETROIT – Detroit Public Schools is still in an overspending crisis, and will likely end its fiscal year having spent $127 million more than it received in revenue, according to the Detroit Free Press.

DPS officials say that the crisis is due in part to declining enrollment and increased utility costs, according to the Free Press. The Free Press reports that student enrollment may decline by another 1,000 students between the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years.
The district is hoping to increase class sizes to cut down on costs, according to the Free Press, a move the DPS teachers union says it will fight.
District officials told the Free Press that the district will not be closing any schools, something DPS has repeatedly done for the past six years in order to cut costs.

SOURCE: Detroit Free Press, “Detroit Public Schools faces bigger deficit, threat of bigger classes,” June 21, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “From Detroit To The Ivy League: One Student’s Journey," April 28, 2014 

Saginaw District Takes Out Loan to Make Payroll

SAGINAW, Mich. – The Saginaw School District is taking out a nearly $17 million loan from the state in order to be able to pay employee salaries during August and September, according to MLive.

The move will cost the district close to $200,000 in interest costs, MLive reports.
“We don’t have a fund balance,” Superintendent Carlton Jenkins told MLive. “We’ve gone down from $22 million to $16.7 million. We’re trying to make sure we don’t pay so much interest.”
“We’re broke,” board member Rudy Patterson told MLive.

SOURCE: MLive, “’We should only take what we need,’ says Saginaw school board member as district takes out $16.7 million loan,” June 19, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “Saginaw can’t look to SodexoMAGIC for extra cash, says attorney, March 11, 2014 

Muskegon Heights to Stay Open for 2014-15

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. – Despite its charter operator leaving, the Muskegon Heights charter public school district will stay open for the 2014-15 school year, according to MLive.

MLive reports that the district’s board has put a self-management plan in place, and that the vast majority of current students say they will stay for the next school year. According to MLive, most of the charter district’s teachers will stay, despite the change in management.
The charter district is closing one of its elementary schools to contain costs, and grade levels will be moved among the remaining buildings to accommodate the closure, MLive reports.

SOURCE: MLive, “Here are 5 things to know about Muskegon Heights schools’ plan for 2014-15,” June 20, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “State Gives Failing Schools Perfect Grades for Paperwork,” Aug. 27, 2010 

Education Candidate Forum in Detroit on July 8

DETROIT – The Great Lakes Education Project, Detroit Parent Network, Excellent Schools Detroit and other groups are co-hosting a Detroit-area legislative candidate forum on July 8.

Candidates from Senate districts 2, 4 and 5 will be participating, as well as candidates from House districts 3, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11.
The event will be held at Madison-Carver Academy, 19900 McIntyre St., Detroit, from 6-8 p.m.
For more information, visit www.DetroitEdForum.Eventbrite.com.