Contents of this issue:
  • Ypsilanti schools could privatize top administrators

  • Holland declares second impasse, teachers get free insurance

  • UP teachers threaten "job actions"

  • Livonia schools will add police presence

  • Two students stabbed at Detroit high school; shots fired

  • NLRB files complaint over GRPS busing

YPSILANTI, Mich. — Ypsilanti Public Schools could reduce health insurance costs and other benefits more than $130,000 by privatizing its top three administrative positions, according to The Ann Arbor News.

The school board next week will consider extending the contract of Superintendent James Hawkins for two years. He has been interim superintendent since last spring. John Fulton is retiring from his role as executive director of human resources, and Alan Dowdy, chief financial officer, is already retired and working in the same job as an independent contractor, The News reported.

With all three classified as contractors, rather than school employees, the district would not be liable for their health insurance benefits, The News said.

Dowdy told The News that the hiring of independent contractors is becoming more popular statewide, but that teachers' unions oppose the idea for instructional services.

The Ann Arbor News, "Ypsilanti schools to keep top talent at discount," Jan. 10, 2006

Michigan Education Report, "Privatization shows signs of growth across the state," Dec. 15, 2005

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Privatization: On The Honor Roll," Sept. 1, 1998

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Privatization in Education," Aug. 13, 1999

HOLLAND, Mich. — Holland Public Schools has declared an impasse in contract negotiations with teachers for the second time in three months, according to The Holland Sentinel.

School board members Monday night voted on both the impasse Monday night, and also a new health insurance plan that will not require teachers to pay any money toward premiums, The Sentinel reported. Starting March 1, teachers will have a choice of two insurance plans offered by Blue Cross, both of which will meet the board's maximum allowed cost of $1,085 per teacher per month.

The school board first declared an impasse last November, picking a new health care plan, The Sentinel reported. Under that coverage, which took effect Jan. 1, teachers had to pay a portion of their premiums based on what level of service they chose. That insurance is still handled by the Michigan Education Special Services Association, a third-party insurance administrator founded by the Michigan Education Association.

Holland schools had been paying more than $15,000 a year per teacher for insurance through MESSA, The Sentinel reported. The new options will cost about $13,000 per teacher annually.

Some teachers who spoke at the school board meeting said they disagreed with the plan because it will require them to pay prescription drug costs, The Sentinel reported.

"You're taking hundreds and hundreds of dollars away from people who have worked for you for years," Patti Dixon, a literacy coach, told the board.

Charles Bullard, president of the Holland teachers union, had no comment when asked if he was pleased that teachers will not pay any money toward insurance premiums, The Sentinel said.

The Holland Sentinel, "Second impasse declared," Jan. 17, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Holland board picks cost-saving insurance," Nov. 15, 2005

Michigan Education Digest, "Holland Talks Fail to Progress," Nov. 8, 2005

Michigan Education Digest, "Holland Union, District Still Split," Nov. 1, 2005

Michigan Education Report, "Growing number of districts seek solutions to costly health insurance," Dec. 15, 2005

IRONWOOD, Mich. — The Ironwood Education Association said it is considering taking "job actions" after the Ironwood Area School District rejected a contract proposal from teachers, according to the Ironwood Daily Globe.

The two sides cannot agree about health insurance costs and the length of the school day, the Globe reported. Bruce Beckman, bargaining chair for the union, said the Michigan Education Association will send representatives to meet with IEA members, the Globe reported. The paper said Bruce Beckman of the union bargaining team did not discuss specifics about "job actions," but the Globe said it "presumably could mean teachers would walk off the job."

"If that happened, the board would have to call a quick meeting and decide how we're going to react to it," Superintendent James Rayner told the newspaper. "We would certainly consult our attorney and arrive at a decision."

The Globe said the school board rejected the latest union proposal, its third since Dec. 22, because of higher costs.

"We had to reject it because it incurred expenses that exceeded our budgetary limitations," Rayner said.

"Every time we think we are getting close, the agreement appears to be sabotaged with terms known to be unacceptable to teachers," Beckman told the Globe.

No further talks are scheduled.

Ironwood Daily Globe, "Teacher proposal rejected," Jan. 4, 2006

Michigan Education Report, "Growing number of districts seek solutions to costly health insurance," Dec. 15, 2005

Michigan Education Digest, "Michigan Senate passes school health insurance bills," Dec. 6, 2005

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Collective Bargaining: Bringing Education to the Table," Aug. 1, 1998

LIVONIA, Mich. — The Clarenceville School District will hire a police officer in response to escalating nearby violence, according to the Detroit Free Press.

A "school-resource officer," at a cost of $40,000 per semester, will start this spring or next fall, the Free Press reported. The officer will patrol the high school and middle school, which are across the street from each other. A beating near school property and a car explosion occurred in October and December, respectively.

Police officers already are assigned to three other high schools and four middle schools in Livonia, according to the Free Press. Livonia Police Lt. Greg Winn said having officers in the schools benefits police.

"We like having them," Winn told the Free Press. "They develop a lot of information ... A lot of crime is committed by high school kids."

Marion Dixon, the father of three Clarenceville High School students, said he thinks the money is being wasted.

"That funding should go to the teachers, and they should start picking up the slack," he told the Free Press. "Teachers today seem to think their job is just to teach and go on. I don't see it that way."

Dixon told the paper he feels Clarenceville is a safe school and staff members should be able to control students.

Detroit Free Press, "Police officer to be on the job at Clarenceville schools," Jan. 10, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Detroit school shootings," Dec. 13, 2005

Michigan Education Report, "The three P's of school safety," Nov. 1, 2000

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Private Protection: A Growing Industry Could Enhance School Safety," Nov. 16, 1998

DETROIT — Violence erupted again last week in Detroit Public Schools as two students were stabbed during a fight that involved the mother of a third student, according to The Detroit News. A gun was fired at another Detroit high school Friday, although no one was hurt, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Two girls, 15 and 16, were stabbed in the chest after school Thursday outside Martin Luther King Jr. High School, The News reported. The mother turned herself in to police that night and is under investigation for assault with a deadly weapon.

A weapon was fired Friday on the grounds of Osborn High School, according to the Free Press. A 17-year-old student and five other people were questioned.

Security issues at Detroit Public Schools gained attention in December after two shootings in one week. The school district's security force, which is not authorized to carry guns or make arrests, has been cut 24 percent over the past two years, The News reported.

"We need some security in the building with weapons," Ozella Carter, an Osborn volunteer, told the Free Press. "The students ignore security who don't have weapons. They think they're a joke."

In another incident, a 15-year-old male student told The News he was confronted at King High after classes on Wednesday and hit in the face with a padlock, then kicked and stomped. Virginia Cantrell, vice president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, told school board members Wednesday there also has been an increase in assaults against staff members, The News reported.

The Detroit News, "2 teens stabbed after school," Jan. 13, 2006

Detroit Free Press, "Cops called to another city school," Jan. 14, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Detroit school shootings," Dec. 13, 2005

Michigan Education Digest, "Granholm Signs Student Safety Bills," Oct. 4, 2005

Michigan Education Report, "Strict discipline academies," May 30, 2002

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint against the private busing company hired by the Grand Rapids Public Schools, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

A Feb. 27 hearing is set for Dean Transportation and the Grand Rapids Education Support Personnel Association, which claims that the Lansing-based Dean Transportation broke the law by making drivers it hired from GRESPA join the Dean Transportation Employees Union, The Press reported. The Grand Rapids school district privatized busing last year in hopes of saving $18 million over five years, although the GRESPA contract was not set to expire until June 30.

Fil Iorio, an attorney for GRESPA and the Michigan Education Association, called the Dean union a "sham," The Press reported.

"To call the DTEU a sham is to discredit the hardworking members of that union and to discredit the NLRB who certified them nearly 30 years ago," Kellie Dean, president of Dean Transportation, told The Press.

The Grand Rapids Press, "Judge to hear busing case complaint," Jan. 4, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Grand Rapids union to sue over bus drivers," Oct. 18, 2005

Michigan Education Digest, "GRPS private busing gets positive reviews," Sept. 6, 2005

Michigan Education Digest, "Union seeks to represent privatized Grand Rapids bus drivers," Sept. 13, 2005

MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (, a quarterly newspaper with a circulation of 148,000 published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (, a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Ted O'Neil at

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