Contents of this issue:
  • Ironwood board implements new contract

  • Houghton Lake to privatize substitute teachers

  • MEAP scores down for grads

  • Shepherd contract ends two years of talks

  • Garden City schools save money with competitive contracting

  • State releases second list of school convicts

IRONWOOD, Mich. — Ironwood Area Schools voted 4-3 last week to implement a new contract, including a cap on how much the district will pay for teacher health insurance, according to the Ironwood Daily Globe.

The district and teachers union have been in negotiations since the previous contract expired June 30, 2005. The district will now pay a maximum of $975 a month toward each teacher's health insurance, the Daily Globe reported. The newspaper previously reported that the district was paying $1,385 a month per teacher for insurance offered through the Michigan Education Special Services Association. MESSA is a third-party administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association union.

The district called the higher amount "extravagant" in a fact finding brief, the Daily Globe previously reported.

The two sides will continue with contract talks, according to the Daily Globe.

"One way to look at this implementation is it changes the terms of the expired contract," Superintendent James Rayner told the Daily Globe. "It becomes the new status quo until a successor agreement is reached."

Ironwood Daily Globe, "Ironwood school board imposes teacher contract," July 18, 2006

Ironwood Daily Globe, "Negotiations in deadlock," Feb. 17, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "MESSA at heart of Ironwood deadlock," Feb. 28, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "List of student names causes concern in Ironwood," June 27, 2006

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Irony in Ironwood," March 23, 2006

HOUGHTON LAKE, Mich. — Houghton Lake schools could save more than $25,000 a year by hiring a private firm to oversee its substitute teachers, according to The Houghton Lake Resorter.

The school board voted unanimously on July 17 to hire Caledonia-based Professional Educational Services Group. The private firm will make the necessary phone calls when subs are needed, as well as handle payroll operations for them, The Resorter reported.

Because the substitutes will not be school employees, the district will no longer have to pay into the state teachers retirement system for them.

The Houghton Lake Resorter, "Vote privatizes substitute services," July 20, 2006 dept_id=398174&rfi=6

Michigan Education Digest, "Substitute teachers privatized in Grand Rapids," May 9, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Privatized subs can save schools money," April 11, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Fennville district to outsource substitute teachers," March 23, 2004

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan's 2006 high school seniors scored lower on four out of five MEAP subjects than the class of 2005, according to Booth Newspapers.

Reading scores fell from 78 percent to 70 percent proficient, after having increased the previous two years. Math scores were down to 52 percent, dropping yearly since hitting 68 percent proficient in 2001. In science, nearly 57 percent of seniors were proficient, compared to just over 58 percent last year, while writing scores slipped from 57 percent proficient to 55 percent. The lone increase was social studies, where 37 percent of seniors scored proficient, up from 34 percent in 2005, Booth reported.

Ed Roeber, who is in charge of the state's assessment office, said more students are taking the MEAP, which in turn may lead to lower scores, according to Booth. Officials report that 112,000 students took the series of tests last fall, compared to 102,000 in 2003. The federal No Child Left Behind Act requires that 95 percent of students must take a standardized test for a school to achieve "Adequate Yearly Progress."

Booth Newspapers, "Grads' MEAP scores drop in 4 of 5 areas," July 14, 2006

Michigan Education Report, "Markets, not MEAP, best way to measure school quality," May 12, 2000

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Michigan's Public Charter Schools See MEAP Scores Rise Faster Than Regular Public Schools," Sept. 4, 2002

SHEPHERD, Mich. — Teachers in the Shepherd Public Schools agreed to forgo two years of pay raises and accept a less costly version of union-affiliated health insurance to settle a two-year-old contract dispute, according to the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun.

The new contract is in effect through June 2008, and includes a provision for teachers to pay more for prescriptions while keeping health insurance offered through the Michigan Education Special Services Association, the Morning Sun reported. MESSA is a third-party administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association union.

The contract includes a provision that says the district and the teachers will split any increase in premiums if the next contract is not in place by July 1, 2008, the Morning Sun reported.

There are no retroactive pay raises dating back to 2004, although teachers will get a 1.5 percent increase for 2006-2007 and 2.5 percent more for 2007-2008, according to the Morning Sun.

Mount Pleasant Morning Sun, "Shepherd Schools ratifies new contract with district's teachers," July 19, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Teachers union upset school district published bargaining positions," Oct. 11, 2005

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

GARDEN CITY, Mich. — Garden City schools could save about $2 million over the next three years through privatizing custodial and food services, according to The Detroit News. The district also voted last month to lay off 29 janitors and food service workers, a move that prompted their union to sue the district in Wayne County circuit court, The News reported.

Circuit Court Judge Isidore Torres ordered the two sides to come to an agreement. Before the decision to contract for the services, the district was facing a $2.7 million deficit.

The five school board members who voted to reduce costs are now the targets of a recall effort, according to The News.

The Detroit News, "Union, schools spar over jobs," July 20, 2006

Michigan Education Report, "Competitive contracting continues," May 25, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Hartland schools to save $5 million with competitive contract," May 16, 2006

LANSING, Mich. — More than 190 public school employees convicted of serious misdemeanors are named on a list released by the state last week, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The offenses include a conviction of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct and another conviction of child abuse, as well as domestic violence and assault, the Free Press reported. Although the crimes involve misdemeanors, some dating back to the 1960s, some of the offenses are serious enough that they could require school board or superintendent approval for employees to keep their jobs.

The list comes as a result of a state law that took effect in January aimed at protecting students from criminals, particularly those convicted of sex offenses, who are working in schools, according to the Free Press.

"Those with serious misdemeanors should not be working around our children," Carol Summers, grandmother of a Detroit Public Schools student, told the Free Press.

Ann Arbor Public Schools chose not to fire a janitor who was convicted in 2005 of fourth-degree child abuse, the Free Press reported. District spokeswoman Liz Margolis told the newspaper "these people have paid their dues to society."

A list of more than 450 school employees convicted of felonies was released earlier this year.

Detroit Free Press, "List of convicted school workers is released," July 21, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Some convicted felons still working in schools," July 5, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "List of felons forwarded to schools," May 16, 2006

The Detroit News, "Felons keep school jobs," June 29, 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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