Contents of this issue:
  • Fennville ties pay raises to student performance

  • Bay City schools could save $4 million with insurance change

  • Forest Hills teachers to pay portion of MESSA premiums

  • Detroit seeks school security volunteers

  • 100-plus in Zeeland join new insurance pool

  • State wants employee list back


FENNVILLE TIES PAY RAISES TO STUDENT PERFORMANCE
FENNVILLE, Mich. — Teachers in the Fennville Public Schools have agreed to a two-year contract that could earn them pay raises based on student performance, according to The Holland Sentinel. Teachers next year could earn 0.75 percent raises based on improved MEAP scores, plus an additional 0.75 percent raise based on increased revenues in the district, The Sentinel reported.

Teachers also will receive a 1 percent raise this year and next, regardless of student performance or the district's revenue.

Maintenance workers and custodians in the district agreed to a three-year contract that will give them 1.5 percent raises each year. They also agreed to change health insurance coverage and join the West Michigan Health Insurance Pool, The Sentinel reported. Superintendent Mark Dobias told the newspaper the move should reduce the district's insurance costs by about 10 percent per year.

SOURCE:
The Holland Sentinel, "District approves contracts with three unions," Feb. 16, 2006
http://hollandsentinel.com/stories/021606/local_20060216018.shtml

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Digest, "New York union chief proposes teacher incentive pay," May 11, 2004
http://www.educationreport.org/6630

Michigan Education Report, "Incentives for Teacher Performance in Government Schools: An Idea Whose Time Has Come," May 30, 2002
http://www.educationreport.org/4373

Michigan Education Report, "Increase teachers' pay the right way," Sept. 13, 2000
http://www.educationreport.org/3084


BAY CITY SCHOOLS COULD SAVE $4 MILLION WITH INSURANCE CHANGE
BAY CITY, Mich. — Bay City Public Schools could cut more than half of its budget deficit by changing health insurance plans, according to The Bay City Times.

The district is considering closing two schools, eliminating some transportation and reducing the size of its staff in order to cut $7.5 million from next year's budget, The Times reported. About $4 million could be cut by selecting an insurance plan other than what is offered through the Michigan Education Special Services Association, according to The Times. MESSA is a third-party insurance administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association.

Douglas Newcombe, Bay City's finance director, told The Times any one of a number of alternative health insurance plans could reduce costs significantly without reducing coverage.

About $1 million has already been cut from the budget this year, The Times reported. Some $190,000 of that came after seven of eight school employee unions agreed to open their contracts to change insurance plans. All but the teachers union switched Feb. 1 to MESSA PPO, dropping the more expensive MESSA Super Care I plan, The Times reported. All union contracts will be up for negotiation this summer, Newcombe told The Times.

SOURCE:
The Bay City Times, "Bay City district will consider closing two school buildings," Feb. 14, 2006
http://www.mlive.com/news/bctimes/index.ssf?/base/news-6/1139933804212510.xml&coll=4

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Digest, "Another school employee group abandons MESSA," Feb. 14, 2006
http://www.educationreport.org/7589

Michigan Education Digest, "Pinckney teachers voluntarily abandon MESSA," Feb. 7, 2006
http://www.educationreport.org/7585

Michigan Education Report, "Growing number of districts seek solutions to costly health insurance," Dec. 15, 2005
http://www.educationreport.org/7479

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Michigan Education Special Services Association: The MEA's Money Machine," Nov. 1, 1993
http://www.mackinac.org/8


FOREST HILLS TEACHERS TO PAY PORTION OF MESSA PREMIUMS
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Teachers in the Forest Hills Public Schools will have to pay a portion of the cost to keep a more expensive health insurance plan after the 2006-2007 school year, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

The district and teachers union agreed to extend their contract through the 2007-2008 school year, but prescription co-pays will increase to $10 and $20 next year, reducing the district's costs by about $670,000, The Press reported. The district will continue covering the full cost of MESSA Super Care I in 2006-2007, but will switch to a less expensive PPO the following year, with teachers paying the difference if they want to keep the more costly Super Care I, according to The Press. The Michigan Education Special Services Association is a third-party insurance administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association.

Other provisions of the contract include 1.25 and 1.75 percent raises over the two years, a no-layoff clause and a reduction in tuition reimbursement. Teachers taking graduate classes will receive $300 instead of $600.

SOURCE:
The Grand Rapids Press, "Prescriptions to cost Forest Hills teachers more," Feb. 14, 2006
http://www.mlive.com/news/grpress/index.ssf?/base/news-27/1139932182134500.xml&coll=6

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Digest, "Another school employee group abandons MESSA," Feb. 14, 2006
http://www.educationreport.org/7589

Michigan Education Report, "Growing number of districts seek solutions to costly health insurance," Dec. 15, 2005
http://www.educationreport.org/7479

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Michigan Education Special Services Association: The MEA's Money Machine," Nov. 1, 1993
http://www.mackinac.org/8


DETROIT SEEKS SCHOOL SECURITY VOLUNTEERS
DETROIT — A clergy group hopes to recruit 2,000 volunteers to help stem increasing violence in Detroit Public Schools, according to The Detroit News.

"This is an initial step toward securing a peaceful and productive future for our children," Rev. Samuel Bullock Jr. told The News. Bullock is president of the Detroit-area Council of Baptist Pastors.

The volunteers will receive four hours of training, be fingerprinted and undergo a background check, The News reported. The fingerprinting, as with school employees, will cost $70 each.

"We will find that money," Superintendent William Coleman III told The News. "We have to."

Once approved, the volunteers will receive jackets and two-way radios. Their primary duties will be to act as the "eyes and ears" of the district's security force, The News reported. About 300 people already have been trained.

Violence in and near Detroit public schools, including shootings, stabbings and robberies has escalated recently, according to The News. The district security force has been cut one-quarter since 2004, and security guards are not armed, The News reported.

SOURCE:
The Detroit News, "Volunteers look out for Detroit kids," Feb. 14, 2006
http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060214/SCHOOLS/602140357/1026

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Digest, "DPS still seeking solutions to school violence," Jan. 24, 2006
http://www.educationreport.org/7564

Michigan Education Digest, "Two students stabbed at Detroit high school; shots fired," Jan. 17, 2006
http://www.educationreport.org/7551

Michigan Education Digest, "Detroit school shootings," Dec. 13, 2005
http://www.educationreport.org/7464


100-PLUS IN ZEELAND JOIN NEW INSURANCE POOL
ZEELAND, Mich. — More than 100 employees in the Zeeland Public Schools will become part of the West Michigan Health Insurance Pool next year, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

Moving the 110 administrators and support personnel to the pool will reduce health insurance costs for the district by $115,000 the first year, The Press reported. Zeeland teachers' insurance remains with the Michigan Education Special Services Association, a third-party administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association.

David Van Ginhoven, assistant superintendent for the district, told The Press the West Michigan pool has coverage plans similar to what the employees now have. The group includes 11 school districts and serves more than 1,000 employees. Zeeland will spend $5 million, or about 12 percent of its total budget, on health insurance this year, according to The Press.

SOURCE:
The Grand Rapids Press, "Insurance move for Zeeland administrators, support staff to save $115,000," Feb. 14, 2006
http://www.mlive.com/news/grpress/index.ssf?/base/news-7/1139931993134500.xml&coll=6

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Digest, "Another school employee group abandons MESSA," Feb. 14, 2006
http://www.educationreport.org/7589

Michigan Education Digest, "Pinckney teachers voluntarily abandon MESSA," Feb. 7, 2006
http://www.educationreport.org/7585

Michigan Education Report, "Growing number of districts seek solutions to costly health insurance," Dec. 15, 2005
http://www.educationreport.org/7479

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Michigan Education Special Services Association: The MEA's Money Machine," Nov. 1, 1993
http://www.mackinac.org/8


STATE WANTS EMPLOYEE LIST BACK
LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Department of Education has asked school districts to return a disputed list of school employees with criminal backgrounds, according to The Detroit News.

The list, sent last month, was ordered recalled by U.S. District Judge Paul V. Gadola. Based on a background check of school employees against a State Police database, the list came under attack from teachers and unions, who claimed that it was inaccurate, The News reported. It was previously blocked by another judge from being released to the media.

"It must be treated as if the list was never received," attorney William Albertson, whose firm is representing more than 400 school districts, told The News. "It is devoid of any legal significance."

Brian Whiston, director of community and government services with the Oakland Intermediate School District, said he believes the list is about half wrong, based on what local superintendents have told him, The News reported. Whitson did recommend that local school districts verify employee backgrounds on their own, especially in attempts to remove employees with sex crime convictions from schools.

"If you've got accurate information, move forward on this," Whiston told The News.

The first State Police check found about 4,600 criminal offenses, including 2,200 felonies, The News reported. A new list is to be completed by the State Police by early March.

SOURCE:
The Detroit News, "State asks school districts to return criminal lists," Feb. 16, 2006
http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060216/SCHOOLS/602160356/1026

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Digest, "Judge blocks release of names; new list complete by March 1," Feb. 14, 2006
http://www.educationreport.org/7589

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Parents Still Have an Option to Check Kids' Safety," Feb. 2, 2006
http://www.mackinac.org/7574

Michigan Education Digest, "Schools get names of employees with criminal backgrounds," Feb. 7, 2006
http://www.educationreport.org/7585

Michigan Education Digest, "Court seals data on school employees with criminal backgrounds," Jan. 31, 2006
http://www.educationreport.org/7570


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

Contact Managing Editor Ted O'Neil at
mailto:med@educationreport.org

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