Contents of this issue:
  • More Michigan schools plan to restructure
  • MESSA targets Lawton schools for attaining claims data
  • Changes to No Child Left Behind announced
  • Brighton agrees to teacher contract it can't afford
  • Belding gives teachers raises, saves at least $140,000
  • Comment and win an iPod

LANSING, Mich. — A report from the Washington-based Center on Education Policy stated that 63 Michigan schools are planning restructuring as specified by the No Child Left Behind Act, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

That number is an increase from 46 schools in 2006-2007, but still lower than 2004-2005, when 109 schools were mandated to restructure. The increased number of schools in the restructuring phase of the NCLB is largely due to the number of high schools failing to meet standards on the new Michigan Merit Exam. The report states that the majority of restructuring is taking place in Detroit and other urban areas, according to The Press.

Schools are required to start planning to restructure if they fail to meet federal standards for five consecutive years. After six years of sub-par performance, a district must implement its plans, The Press reported.

The Grand Rapids Press, "Report: More Michigan schools plan restructuring under No Child Left Behind," April 23, 2008

Michigan Education Report, "No Child Left Behind law demands 'adequate yearly progress' and offers school choice options for parents," Nov. 7, 2002

LAWTON, Mich. — The Michigan Education Special Services Association has filed a grievance against the Lawton Community Schools for hiring an independent agent to attain the district's insurance claims information, according to The Paw Paw Courier-Leader.

Legislation passed last year requires MESSA, a third-party administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association school employees union, to provide aggregate claims data so districts can seek competitive bids for insurance benefits. The requirement, however, only applies to districts with 250 or more employees receiving health benefits. In response, Lawton Superintendent Joseph Trimboli hired an independent agent to collect claims information from support staff. The agent provided envelopes and forms for the health care information and it was sent directly to the insurance bidders, The Courier-Leader reported.

In response, MESSA filed a grievance against the district, arguing that the collection of health care information violated the civil rights of employees.

"As a result of me asking the support staff to cooperate with the independent provider, MESSA felt threatened and made an accusation that the district says is incorrect," Trimboli told The Courier-Leader. "MESSA has filed a grievance that will be denied by the district — a grievance that was filed for the sole purpose of trying to intimidate the district into complying with their wishes of not seeking health care from any other provider but MESSA."

The Paw Paw Courier-Leader, "Lawton School officials at odds with MESSA," April 28, 2008

Michigan Education Report, "MESSA says no to requests for insurance data," Feb. 29, 2008

LANSING, Mich. — U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings has announced a number of policy changes to the No Child Left Behind Act, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The first major change is the mandate that all states adopt the same graduation rate formula by 2012-2013. Michigan will release data for the class of 2007 with the new formula in August, the Free Press reported.

"It's a more honest way of getting the information about the success rate of students in our schools," David Maile, director of instructional services for Huron Valley Schools, told the Free Press.

In addition to standardizing graduation rates, Spellings also announced that schools that fail to meet graduation targets will face different sanctions under the law. For the first time, the graduation rates of specific subgroups of students, whether it is minorities or special education students, will factor into determining whether or not a school meets federal standards, according to the Free Press.

Spellings also wants schools to be more accountable for communicating the right for parents to receive free tutoring or to transfer to another school if their child attends a failing school. This means requiring schools to use more federal funds for parental outreach, the Free Press reported.

Detroit Free Press, "Changes to No Child unveiled," April 23, 2008

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "NCLB Falls Short of Helping Parents," Aug. 24, 2007

BRIGHTON, Mich. — The Brighton schools and its teachers union agreed to a new three-year contract that district officials say they might not be able to afford, according to the Livingston Daily Press & Argus.

"The challenge now is figuring out a way to pay for it," school board member Bill Anderson told the Press & Argus.

Superintendent Jim Craig noted that the district didn't receive about $1 million in concessions from the union that it needed to remain financially sound. The district will save about $337,000 because of a switch to a less expensive health benefits package, but it will still be paying out more than expected. Teachers will receive a 1.13 percent pay increase this school year and 2.26 percent increases in the second and third year of the contract deal. In addition to raises, the district has also agreed to a tuition reimbursement program for continuing education and longevity payment, the Press & Argus reported.

Livingston Daily Press & Argus, "Teacher pact stirs concerns," April 27, 2008

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "School Budgets: A Crisis of Management, Not Finance," Feb. 11, 2005

BELDING, Mich. — The Belding school district has approved a contract with the Belding Education Association union that will provide yearly raises for teachers and save the district between $140,000 and $150,000 in insurance costs, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

The three-year contract gives the district's teachers a 2 percent salary increase each year, while also seeing an increase in prescription co-pays. Teachers who receive their health benefits through the Michigan Education Special Services Association will now contribute $10 to the cost of their generic prescriptions, and $20 for name-brand drugs. This is estimated to save the district at least $140,000, The Press reported. MESSA is a third-party administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association school employees union that outsources insurance underwriting to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and then resells the policies to school districts.

The district has also decided to set aside $25,000 in a "prescription pool" to reimburse single teachers who spend more than $125 per year on co-pays or families that spend more than $250 each year, according to The Press.

"I'm extremely pleased we were able to negotiate a contract that will be in effect for more than a year, so we don't have to go back to the bargaining table anytime soon," board Vice President Tom Humphreys said, according to The Press.

The Grand Rapids Press, "Belding: School board, teachers reach contract deal," April 22, 2008

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Employee Salaries and Benefits," in "A Collective Bargaining Primer," Feb. 28, 2007

MIDLAND, Mich. — Go to and post a comment for a chance to win one of three iPods.

MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (, a quarterly newspaper published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (, a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Sarah Grether at

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