In this issue:
- New School Bond and Millage Increases Win Big at the Polls
- Snow Day Flexibility
- Michigan Merit Curriculum Changes Reported out of House Committee
- Transportation Package Begins to Move in the House
- Performance Pay for Teachers and Administrators
- Court Ruling on Union Dues
New School Bond and Millage increases win big at the polls
This week, voters approved by over an 80 percent margin proposals for new school bonds or millage increases. Forty-five of the 56 proposals for bonds to improve K-12 infrastructure, millage increases or sinking funds won approval. These numbers show that communities are seeing the wear and tear on their local school districts after a decade of funding cuts and now growth from the state and are providing supplemental resources at the local level.
Snow Day Flexibility
Legislation that would amend the School Aid Act to provide exceptions to the requirement that a school district offer at least 170 days for the 2012-13 school year (House Bill 4471) passed the Senate this week. This legislation needs to be concurred to in the House next week and then will be promptly sent to the Governor for signature. It is unclear at this time when he will sign the bill
Michigan Merit Curriculum Changes Reported out of House Committee
On Tuesday, the House Education Committee reported out two bills that make changes to the Michigan Merit Curriculum (MMC). The bills, House Bills 4465 and 4466, were changed in committee to reinstate the foreign language requirement but allow the courses to be completed between grades K-12. The substitutes grant additional flexibility to students by allowing the foreign language requirement to be partially fulfilled by a CTE program or an arts course. The Algebra II component of the curriculum was changed from previous versions by requiring students who are enrolled in a CTE program to successfully complete the same content as the Algebra II benchmarks assessed on the Department-prescribed state high school assessment. Finally, the substitutes expand the uses of a personal curriculum and require a school to develop one for any student or parent that requests it. Whether or not a personal curriculum is implemented still lies with the school. The bills were reported by votes of 11-2 and 12-1 and will now go to the full House for consideration.
Transportation Package Begins to Move in House
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee reported out two bills that would change the way the state taxes aviation fuel. Both bills were reported on party line votes with 9 yeas and 6 nays. House Bill 4571 creates a tax on the wholesale price and House Bill 4572 exempts it from the sales tax. House Bill 4572 creates an unknown sized hole in the School Aid Fund. The Committee considered House Bill 4677 which would earmark $55 million of the current sales tax revenue that goes to the state’s general fund to the school aid fund. We certainly appreciate the effort of the Chairman to find replacement revenue for the SAF, however, we remain concerned that the dollar amount may not reflect the actual revenue loss, the amount is not tied to inflation, and is not part of a comprehensive solution to fund roads and schools.
Performance Pay for Teachers and Administrators
The House Education Committee began testimony this week on House Bill 4625, which would require school districts to base pay increases for teachers and administrators primarily on job performance and accomplishments. It would also only allow certain types of advanced degrees to be considered in pay increase decisions. One concern that was raised by multiple members was that the bill would require evaluation based pay before the state had the MCEE evaluation tool in place. There were also concerns about limiting the type of advanced degrees that a teacher or administrator could be compensated for.
Court Ruling on Union Dues
A divided U. S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has overruled a lower court decision, holding that a 2012 Michigan law is constitutional and schools do not have to collect union dues for their employees.In Bailey v. Callaghan, the court said the U.S. Supreme Court has effectively already held that local governments do not have to be compelled to collect dues for their workers unions. Nothing in the Michigan law, PA 53 of 2012, violates the First Amendment to the Constitution, despite the arguments of the plaintiffs, the court said.