Contents of this issue:


  • First-grade student brings loaded gun to school
  • DPS loses adult education funds
  • DPS Superintendent reprimanded by board
  • Pinckney schools and union stumble over pay and insurance
  • Health insurance: Reformed, but not resolved

FIRST-GRADE STUDENT BRINGS LOADED GUN TO SCHOOL


FERNDALE, Mich. - A first-grade student was removed from school after he showed another student a gun he brought to school, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The gun was loaded, but no bullet was found in the chamber, making it highly unlikely the 6-year-old would have been able to fire it, Police Captain Timothy Collins explained to the Free Press.

Investigators are currently looking into where the boy got the gun.

"There's indication it could be Oak Park, there's a possibility it could be Detroit, but we don't know," Collins told the Free Press. "We're just as interested as looking into the negligence aspect as anybody."

The boy's peer who reported the gun to the teacher received praise from police, the school principal and classmates, according to the Free Press.

SOURCE:
Detroit Free Press, "First-grader brings loaded gun to school; classmate hailed as hero," Sept. 12, 2008

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "The three P's of school safety: parents, prevention, and police," Nov. 1, 2000


DPS LOSES ADULT EDUCATION FUNDS


DETROIT - The state is withholding $6.2 million in funds from Detroit Public Schools as questions surfaced about how past funds were spent, according to The Detroit News.

The Office of Adult Education is questioning how DPS previously spent $11 million in designated funds from the office. A letter from the office was sent to DPS Superintendent Connie Calloway explaining designated uses for the funds, and questioned whether or not the money was used accordingly, The News reported.

SOURCE:
The Detroit News, "State withholds $6.2 million from Detroit Schools," Sept. 10, 2008

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Digest, "Detroit Schools might have to repay $1.3 million to feds," July 31, 2008


DPS SUPERINTENDENT REPRIMANDED BY BOARD


DETROIT - The Detroit Public Schools Board of Education voted 6-4 to formally reprimand Superintendent Connie Calloway, a move that may hinder her in the future but creates no immediate threats to her job security, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The board decided to proceed with the reprimand after Calloway received a negative performance review, the Free Press reported.

The average length of a superintendent's stay in an urban school district is just over three years, according to the Free Press.

SOURCE:
Detroit Free Press, "Calloway likely won't be fired," Sept. 13, 2008

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Six Habits of Fiscally Responsible Public School Districts," Dec. 3, 2002


PINCKNEY SCHOOLS AND UNION STUMBLE OVER PAY AND INSURANCE


PINCKNEY, Mich. - Contract negotiations between Pinckney Community Schools and its teachers union are stalled over matters of health insurance and salaries, according to The Ann Arbor News.

The largest problem facing the district is a 34 percent increase in health insurance premiums for Blue Cross Blue Shield's Flexible Blue program. The district budgeted for a 7 percent increase. Every employee group but teachers have switched to a new insurance plan within the district's budget, The News reported.

The union is bringing in a financial analyst from the Michigan Education Association school employees union to argue that the district isn't in as much trouble financially as it states.

"We're hoping this will shed some light on our perspective," Mimi Katakowski, a Farley Hill Elementary School teacher and president of the Pinckney Education Association teachers union, told The News. "The analysis says that if the district plans appropriately, it has the ability to settle our contract and fund a fair and equitable contract. That's all we want."

None of the district employees are receiving raises this year and maintenance and grounds staff agreed to a pay cut to avoid competitive contracting, The News reported.

SOURCE:
The Ann Arbor News, "There's no contract in sight for Pinckney school teachers," Sept. 12, 2008

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "A Collective Bargaining Primer," Feb. 28, 2007


HEALTH INSURANCE: REFORMED, BUT NOT RESOLVED


LANSING, Mich. - Comparison shopping for health insurance was supposed to get easier for Michigan school districts in 2008, but nobody said it would be pretty.

Adopted late in 2007, the state's new Public Employees Health Benefit Act was designed to address health insurance costs by requiring school districts to gather competitive bids before awarding new contracts.

Sounds like a straightforward process, but the number of contracts yet to be settled in Michigan says otherwise.

Interviews with members of the education community, as well as media reports, indicate that the new law has brought information, competitive pressure and some new players to the table. But some say that the first round of mandated bidding was based on less-than-complete health histories, which may have skewed final cost estimates.

And since the law does not say that a school district has to accept the lowest bid and does not take the issue of health benefits off the bargaining table, school districts and their unionized employees continue to argue over which benefit plan a district can afford, which company should provide it, and how well current bids predict coming years' costs.

SOURCE:
Michigan Education Report, "Health insurance: Reformed, but not resolved," Sept. 16, 2008

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


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

Contact Managing Editor Sarah Grether at
mailto:med@educationreport.org

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