Contents of this issue:
  • "Foundation grant" to increase again

  • Former MEA union employee pleads guilty

  • Home-school mom elected to Howell board

  • Holland teachers reject insurance offer

  • Traverse City moves school elections to fall

  • Detroit can keep tax money

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan will increase the amount it spends on public schools under a budget plan approved by the governor and Legislature, according to Booth Newspapers.

Schools will receive $210 more per pupil during the 2006-2007 school year, bumping the foundation grant up to $7,085. That amounts to about $19.5 million more that will be spent on public schools, Booth reported.

The Legislature also is discussing other public school spending increases, including an additional $20 million to boost math and science education in middle schools, $20 million for schools that lose students, and another $20 million for schools that receive the mandated amount of state education funds, according to Booth.

The deal also includes a 3 percent increase in state spending for universities and community colleges, Booth reported.

Booth Newspapers, "State budget agreement means more money for K-12, higher ed," June 30, 2006

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "School Funding: Lack of Money or Lack of Money Management?" Aug. 30, 2001

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "State College Money Should Follow Students, Not Lobbyists," May 15, 2006

HANCOCK, Mich. — A former secretary with the Michigan Education Association union pleaded guilty to making a false statement on a loan application in U.S. District Court July 10, according to WLUC TV6, an Upper Peninsula television station.

Susan Lynn Gregg, 36, faces 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine, WLUC reported. The loan was for $29,000, but some $178,000 was taken from the Copper Country chapter of the MEA union between 1999 and 2005, according to WLUC. Gregg will be sentenced in November, the station reported.

WLUC, "MEA official admits to financial fraud," July 10, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Former union official accused of embezzlement," Nov. 8, 2005

Michigan Education Digest, "Judicial Board Censures Kalamazoo Union President for Misusing Funds," July 19, 2005

HOWELL, Mich. — A home-school mom was sworn in as a member of the Howell Public Schools Board of Education Monday night, according to the Livingston Daily Press & Argus.

Wendy Day, who began home schooling her children during the 2005-2006 school year after her husband's military deployment to Iraq, said educating her children at home was a way for the family to deal with the difficult situation, the Press & Argus reported. Her decision also was prompted by concerns over some of the subject matter taught in the schools, including evolution taught as fact instead of theory, and teaching seventh graders about contraception.

"Those were a variety of issues that compromise our beliefs as a family," Day told the Press & Argus. "We were trying to do what was best for our kids."

The issue of home schooling was raised during the campaign, the newspaper reported, yet Day was the top vote getter among six candidates in the May 2 election.

"I think every parent has a vested interest in the quality of our public schools," she told the Press & Argus. "I think everybody wants to know the schools are the best that they can be, and that includes me as a taxpayer."

Other Livingston County school districts — including Brighton, Pinckney and Hartland — have or have had school board members whose children did not attend schools in the district during their time on the board, the Press & Argus reported.

"There are many dedicated people in the community who care about the community," Pinckney board member Carol Houston told the Press & Argus. "To narrow a pool of candidates to those people who just have children in the schools, I think, would shut out people who would be excellent school board members."

Livingston Daily Press & Argus, "What was best for our kids: Soon to become a school board member, Day homeschools her children," July 6, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Homeschooling a growing trend; critics want greater oversight," Aug. 23, 2005

Michigan Education Report, "Home School Heroes," Jan. 18, 1999

Holland, Mich. — Teachers in the Holland Public Schools rejected an offer to return to the union-affiliated health insurance plan they want because they would be required to pay a portion of the costs, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

Holland Public Schools offered to reinstate health insurance purchased through the Michigan Education Special Services Association if teachers were willing to pay $120 a month toward their own insurance, The Press reported. MESSA is a third-party administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association union. District officials say the $120 figure is the difference in cost between MESSA and what the taxpayers can afford, according to The Press.

The Grand Rapids Press, "School district makes health insurance offer," June 28, 2006

The Grand Rapids Press, "Health offer rejected," June 29, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Holland teachers threaten illegal strike," May 2, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Holland declares second impasse, teachers get free insurance," Jan. 17, 2006

Michigan Education Report, "School districts wrestle with high health care costs," March 7, 2006

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — A divided Traverse City Area Public Schools board voted recently to hold school board elections in November instead of May, according to the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

Elections held in November of even-numbered years will cost the district about $5,000 because they would be combined with other general election costs countywide. Elections in November of odd-numbered years would cost about $25,000 to $30,000, according to the Record-Eagle. The vote was 4-3 in favor of the change.

Traverse City Record-Eagle, "Elections move to the fall," June 27, 2006

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Secret Ballot?" May 22, 2006

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "A Voter's Checklist for School Elections," April 28, 2006

DETROIT — Detroit Public Schools can keep $259 million in tax money it wasn't entitled to because property owners filed complaints too late, according to the Detroit Free Press.

DPS continued collecting an 18-mill levy on non-homestead property through 2004, even though it expired in 2002. Officials revealed the mistake in July 2005, the Free Press reported. Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Isidore Torres ruled recently that a lawsuit from four businesses filed in 2005 was too late to protest the 2002 or 2004 tax collections, according to the Free Press.

The Michigan Tax Tribunal had already ruled that taxpayers filed disputes too late, the Free Press reported.

Detroit Free Press, "Tax complaints vs. Detroit schools dismissed," June 23, 2006

Michigan Education Report, "DPS' credit rating falls after $259 million tax error," Dec. 15, 2005

Michigan Education Digest, "DPS must repay almost $1 million to feds," July 5, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "DPS limits 'excessive' retreat spending," May 23, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Study: Detroit graduation rate worst in the nation," June 27, 2006

MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (, a quarterly newspaper with a circulation of nearly 150,000 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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