Plymouth-Canton Teachers To Receive New Insurance, Raises
Sept. 28, 2007

PLYMOUTH – The Plymouth-Canton Education Association union has agreed to a two-year contract with the board of education that includes pay raises and a switch in health insurance, according to The Canton Eagle.

This year, teachers at the top of the pay scale will receive a bonus of 1.5 percent, while all others will see a 0.25 percent raise. Those at the top of the pay scale will receive an additional 2 percent raise next year, The Eagle reported.

The PCEA also voted unanimously to change their health coverage to a Blue Cross/Blue Shield Community Blue PPO starting in January 2008. The district expects to save more than $400,000 through the switch, according to The Eagle.

“It’s a win for both sides,” union representative Chuck Portelli told The Eagle. “It’s savings for them and good for our members,” he said.

For Mackinac Center analysis of this article, please see here.

SOURCE:
The Canton Eagle, “District, teachers agree to pact,” Sept. 27, 2007
http://www.journalgroup.com/Canton/6025/district-teachers-agree-to-pact

FURTHER READING:
The Michigan Education Report article, "Growing number of districts seek solutions to costly health insurance," outlines the struggle facing school districts to reduce insurance costs to direct more funds to the classroom. Districts usually struggle to control the costs of MESSA-administered health insurance. The article notes that critics of MESSA say that "MESSA drives up costs by charging excessive rates and serves as a funding conduit to the MEA, which pushes for MESSA coverage in contract negotiations." Many districts in the Flint area, as well as the Mason-Lake ISD, Pine River and Howell school districts have implemented changes to their employee’s health benefits. The Pinckney Public Schools have saved $700,000 to $800,000, or as much as $164 per pupil, after switching health insurance providers from MESSA to Blue Cross Blue Shield last year.

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


Districts Offer Incentives to Increase Attendance for "Count Day”
Sept. 27, 2007

DETROIT – Many public school districts made efforts to provide incentives for students to attended school on count day in hopes of receiving as much funding from the state as possible, according to The Detroit News.

State funding for schools is determined, in part, on a per-pupil basis. This per-pupil funding is determined through a blended enrollment count on the second Wednesday in February and the fourth Wednesday after Labor Day of the next school year. Schools take 25 percent of their enrollment in February and combine it with 75 percent of the enrollment the next fall, The News reported.

School districts are anticipating a freeze in the foundation allowance from the state this year and used creative incentives to make sure students were present. In Hazel Park, for example, elementary schools aligned student picture day with count day and middle school students had a pizza party. The district lost about 200 students last year and is anticipating a loss of about another 100 students this year, according to The News.

Some Detroit Public Schools are also offering incentives. DPS enrollment has dropped about 10,000 students a year for the past several years and the district recently closed 33 schools. Students at DPS’ Pasteur Elementary were treated to a picnic at a church across the street from the school and had a chance to play football and other games, The News reported.

Although count day is important, schools do have a chance to adjust their count day numbers to account for legitimate absences, like illness.

"I'm not going to lie to you — it's a very important day," Michelle Irwin, director of community relations and programs from the L’Anse Creuse schools, told The News. "But keep in mind, count day isn't just (today). It's also the day before and the 30 days after."

For Mackinac Center analysis of this story, please see here.

SOURCE:
The Detroit News, "Schools entice kids for funds," Sept. 26, 2007
http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070926/ SCHOOLS/709260393/1026

FURTHER READING:
The Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s recent book, "A Michigan School Money Primer,” explains how pupil counts are used to calculate part of a local school district’s revenue. The state’s total portion of a district’s foundation allowance revenue is determined by the number of general education and special education pupils enrolled on two "count days.” The first is in February of the previous school year, and 25 percent of that student count is added to 75 percent of the students counted on a September day in the current school year.

For more information about your district, see our interactive "Michigan School Money Database” at http://www.mackinac.org/michiganschoolmoney.

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Pupil Counts," in "A Michigan School Money Primer,” May 31, 2007
http://www.mackinac.org/8579


Atherton Saves by Contracting Coaching Positions
Sept. 21, 2007

BURTON, Mich. – Atherton Public Schools will save about $50,000 by contracting for non-instructional services. The district recently added athletic coaches to the list of contracted services within the district, according to The Flint Journal.

The schools will re-hire all coaches through Portland-based PCMI West. This will result in savings of approximately $7,000, as the district no longer has to pay 18 percent of a coach’s $1,500 to $3,000 stipend into the state retirement system. Contracting has allowed for an increase in employees’ pay.

"The only difference is you get your paycheck from someone else," Atherton Athletic Director Ralph LaDuke told The Journal.

Many teachers, who served as coaches in the past, have refused to fill any of the 23 positions, The Journal reported.

"I don't believe in privatization," said Stephanie Sudz, an elementary school teacher and former junior varsity volleyball coach. "I cried and explained it to the team and I told them that I hoped they understood."

SOURCE:
The Flint Journal, “Atherton privatizes athletic coaches, causes stir in school district,” Sept. 19, 2007
http://blog.mlive.com/flintjournal/newsnow/2007/09/ atherton_privatizes_athletic_c.html

FURTHER READING:
According to the Mackinac Center’s 2007 Privatization Survey, through June 2007, 40.2 percent of Michigan’s public school districts reported contracting food, janitorial or bussing services — an increase of 7.6 percent since 2006. The study argues that, “school districts are looking to save money to balance their budgets, invest more in classrooms and improve non-teaching support services. Competitive contracting for noninstructional services is just one way districts hope to accomplish these goals.”

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Survey 2007: More Growth in School Support Service Privatization,” Aug. 16, 2007 http://www.mackinac.org/8881


Otsego County Schools See Enrollment Drop
Sept. 20, 2007

OTSEGO COUNTY, Mich. – Schools in northern Michigan’s Otsego County are waiting to determine the effect that enrolling fewer students will have on their budgets, according to the Gaylord Herald Tribune.

Public and private schools in Otsego County lost a total of 77 students since last year. Although Gaylord Community Schools saw an increase in the number of kindergarteners, the district’s enrollment is still down by about 40 students. The Vanderbilt and Johannesburg-Lewiston Area Schools are also expecting slight decreases in their student counts. Each of the districts is concerned about how enrollment figures will affect their budgets, the Herald Tribune reported.

“I really can’t say what the impact to our budget will be until we find out what the per-pupil amount is going to be. If it turns out to be $225 less per student, then we are going to have to make adjustments to our budget. We’re just going to have to wait and see,” Gaylord Superintendent Cheryl Wojtas told the Herald Tribune.

County private schools also are experiencing drops in enrollment. Grace Christian Baptist School saw a decrease from 120 students last year to 107, currently. St. Mary Cathedral School is experiencing something similar. Otsego Christian is the only school in the county to see a significant increase in enrollment, according to the Herald Tribune.

Tom Saporito, Principal at St. Mary Cathedral, said the economy is the primary reason behind these drops in enrollment.

“There seems to be a direct correlation between economic situations and enrollments,” Saporito told the Herald Tribune. “In the 1990s enrollments at private schools were up, and since 2001 they have been going down, especially in Michigan due, in part, to the poor economic situation here.”

SOURCE:
Gaylord Herald Tribune, “Student enrollment down in northern Michigan schools,” Sept. 19, 2007 http://www.gaylordheraldtimes.com/articles/2007/09/18/ news/top_stories/doc46f03419ab385541473293.txt

FURTHER READING:
The Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s recent book, "A Michigan School Money Primer,” explains how pupil counts are used to calculate part of a local school district’s revenue. The state’s total portion of a district’s foundation allowance revenue is determined by the number of general-education and special-education pupils counted on two “count days.” The first is February of the previous school year, and 25 percent of that student count is added to 75 percent of the students counted on a September day in the current school year.

For more information about your district, see our interactive “Michigan School Money Database” at http://www.mackinac.org/ michiganschoolmoney.

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Pupil Counts,” in “A Michigan School Money Primer,” May 31, 2007
http://www.mackinac.org/8579


Royal Oak Teachers Keep MESSA, Contribute More for Co-pays
Sept. 19, 2007 ROYAL OAK, Mich. – Royal Oak schools will save at least $400,000 a year after 90 percent of teachers agreed to contribute more to their health insurance co-pays, according to the Royal Oak Daily Tribune.

Under the new three-year contract, teachers will still receive health benefits administered by the Michigan Education Special Services Association, but will now have co-pays of $10 for generic prescriptions and $20 for brand name drugs, the Daily Tribune reported. MESSA is a third-party administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association school employees union.

Teachers will also receive a retroactive pay increase of 1.25 percent for the 2006-2007 school year, as well as a 1.75 percent raise for this school year. Salaries for teaching positions in the district now range from $37,884 to $80,449. The contract also includes a clause allowing the district to re-open discussion of salary and benefits at the beginning of the third year, according to the Daily Tribune.

"With state funding and health care the way they are we can't lock into anything long term," Board of Education President Gary Briggs told the Daily Tribune.

SOURCE:
Royal Oak Daily Tribune, "Teachers pay more to keep insurance," Sept. 18, 2007
http://www.dailytribune.com/stories/091807/loc_20070918002.shtml

FURTHER READING:
The Michigan Education Report article, "Growing number of districts seek solutions to costly health insurance," outlines the struggle facing school districts to reduce insurance costs to direct more funds to the classroom. The article notes that critics of MESSA say that "MESSA drives up costs by charging excessive rates and serves as a funding conduit to the MEA, which pushes for MESSA coverage in contract negotiations." Many districts in the Flint area, as well as the Mason-Lake ISD, Pine River and Howell school districts have implemented changes to their employee’s health benefits. The Pinckney Public Schools have saved $700,000 to $800,000, or as much as $164 per pupil, after switching health insurance providers from MESSA to Blue Cross Blue Shield last year.

Michigan Education Report, "Growing number of districts seek solutions to costly health insurance," Dec. 15, 2005 http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/mer/article.aspx?ID=7479


MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (http://www.educationreport.org), a quarterly newspaper with a circulation of approximately 150,000 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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