Legislative Updates Impacting HPS
The Holland Public Schools Board of Education and I monitor legislative considerations and actions closely at the federal and state level. We utilize our membership with the Michigan Association of School Boards, Michigan Association of School administrators, Middle Cities Educaiton Association and the West Michigan Talent Triangle as our primary sources of information. Each month, a summary of legislative activities and their potential impact to HPS are discussed at our regular meetings of the board. A summary of these discussions are included on this page in order of current events. If you would like a chronological history, you may find these in our board meeting minutes by month under "Increasing Advocacy & Understanding."
At the bottom of this page I have also included the contact information for our area legislators.
The House and Senate will resume session on January 10, 2018.
Career Technical Education
Earlier this year, the Michigan Career Pathways Alliance began testifying to the Legislature about the need to refocus education on skilled trades and the preparation of young Michiganders for careers. When the Michigan Merit Curriculum (MMC) passed, the focus was almost entirely on college attainment, and many argue that the pendulum has swung too far toward college and has relegated CTE programs to the back burner.
A package of bills was introduced to address these concerns and has been debated for the last few weeks. The five-bill package focuses on career development instruction, linking job providers and trainers more closely to K-12 education, and an attempt to alleviate the CTE instructor shortage issue that plagues so many districts in Michigan.
This past week the House of Representatives passed legislation - HB 5139-42 and 5145 - "aimed" at increasing career and technical education opportunities at schools across the state. The most controversial of the bills was HB 5141, which would allow a district to hire a non-certified/non-endorsed career technical education teacher if they had a high school diploma; three years of relevant field experience; and six hours of training on classroom/instructional management.
Our priority for the West Michigan Talent Triangle is to strike the balance between making certain the barriers to becoming a teacher are not so burdensome they push people away, but we also need to make sure these individuals have strong teaching and learning skills to be effective educators.
Other bills in the package would:
- Require the Michigan Department of Education to develop or adopt a career development model program of instruction, in consultation with the Department of Talent and Economic Development.
- Allow trade schools and skilled trade employers expanded recruitment access.
- Require promulgation of rules allowing time spent engaging with local employers or technical centers to count toward continuing education or professional development.
House Passes Legislation Helping Fix Substitute Teacher Shortage
Michigan has some of the most stringent substitute teaching requirements in the nation and its placing a strain on districts who are desperate to fill slots. House Bill 4069 would lower the required credits for an individual to substitute teach from 90 to 60 putting Michigan more in line with other states across the nation.
At one point 80 percent of the substitute teacher pool was recent graduates who were certified to teach. They would use substitute teaching as a means of getting noticed by districts and eventually hired. Now that we have a steep decline in students entering teacher preparation programs, 80 percent of the sub pool is non-certified teachers. Reducing the credit requirement will allow associate degree holders - some of which are already paraprofessionals in the classroom - the opportunity to substitute teach. This is not the answer, but will certainly help. The bill has been referred to the Senate Education committee.
Rep. Holly Hughes gets Optional Bus Illumination Sign Bill over the Finish Line
(HB 4054) allowing school districts to place illuminated lights in the back of school buses. The study concluded 49 percent fewer people were passing school buses illegally as a result of using the illuminated sign. The sign informs drivers of when a school bus is slowing down, and when drivers should stop as students exit the bus.
Rep. Garcia's School Resource Officer Clarification Bill heads to Snyder
The legislature acted swiftly and now House Bill 5126 - sponsored by Rep. Daniella Garcia, is on its way to Governor Snyder's desk. The legislation exempts school resource officers from the seclusion and restraint law passed last legislative session. Thank you to Rep. Garcia for her work with Holland Public Schools and the Holland Department of Public Safety on this measure.
K-12 Transparency Dashboard Update
The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) provided an update on the K-12 Transparency Dashboard to the State Board of Education last week. The MDE will launch the initial version of the dashboard, which will be called the Parent Dashboard for School Transparency, at the State Board meeting on Jan. 9, 2018.
Concerns were raised by several board members about the demographics of the parent advisory group. MDE stated that this is an area they hope to improve upon as more parents become aware of the dashboard.
The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides essential services for nearly 9 million American families, including 116,000 children in Michigan. CHIP grants medical assistance to families that are not eligible for Medicaid but cannot afford private coverage.
Any delay or a failure to immediately extend funding for CHIP will jeopardize coverage for children who are eligible for school-based, health-related services, leading to immediate and lasting harmful effects for America’s most vulnerable citizens. A lapse in coverage for children places more barriers on their ability to come to school ready to learn. During a time of great uncertainty in the healthcare system, children need the consistent, reliable health coverage CHIP provides today.
Michigan will exhaust its CHIP funding by the end of March if Congress does not act. Versions of CHIP reauthorization have passed both House and Senate committees, but there have been disagreements on how to pay for the program.
Bill to Better Identify Unfunded Mandates Passed by House Committee
House Bill 4679 would require a fiscal note prepared by a chamber's respective fiscal agency to be completed before the House or Senate could consider a bill on final passage.
The note must contain a description and an accounting of how the legislation would affect costs or revenues for the state, as well as a description and an accounting of how the legislation would affect costs or revenues for local units of government. The analysis would have to be distributed to all members before a vote could occur.
The bill is now before the full House for consideration. The sponsor, Rep. Jim Lilly (R-Park Township), indicated there may be more work done on the bill before it is brought up for a vote in the House.
Concealed Carry in Schools - Not a National Trend
If the governor were to sign SB584 and related bills, we'd be joining the outliers. Only 8 states allow visitors of schools to concealed carry while they're in a school building according to the Gifford Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Those states are Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah and Wyoming.
Readers should know Governor Rick Snyder vetoed similar legislation in 2012 following the Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut. The Governor's SB59 veto letter said "the bill did not allow public schools, public daycare centers or public hospitals to prohibit persons from carrying a concealed weapons on their premises. For that reason I am vetoing Senate Bill 59." He has recently told the media his position hasn't changed.
The Holland Public Schools Board of Education passed a resolution against Senate Bill 584 and related bills.
Teacher Preparation Discussion on Deck in Lansing
Surveys have consistently shown new teachers face a steep learning curve when they take over a classroom for the first time.
Expect legislative proposals to hone in on student teaching experiences, mentor teachers and additional requirements on teacher preparation programs.
Seclusion & Restraint
HB 5126, sponsored by Rep. Daniela Garcia (R-Holland), would exclude School Resource Officers from the requirements of the seclusion and restraint law. It passed the House by a vote of 107-0. The District thanks Representative Garcia for her advocacy and work on this bill.
HB 5092, sponsored by Rep. Jim Lilly (R-Park Township), reimburses districts for the additional costs of the enhanced 401k plan by ensuring the 3% retirement match is paid by the state. It passed the House by a vote of 106-1.
House Panel Debates Eliminating State Board
A resolution was considered by the House Education Reform Committee this week that would eliminate the State Board of Education and the State Superintendent. House Joint Resolution M (HJR M) sponsored by Rep. Tim Kelly (R-Saginaw Twp.) would create a Director of the State Department of Education and designate this individual as a gubernatorial appointee.
This resolution stems from the recommendations made in the Governor’s 21stCentury Education Commission report. Rep. Kelly stated that the State Board of Education remains a barrier to improving education in our state and restrictive to student improvement. The resolution is also sponsored by nine Republicans, including three members of the Education Reform Committee. Rep. Adam Zemke (D-Ann Arbor) raised several questions to how this change would improve outcomes and the role of local school boards.
This resolution would require a constitutional amendment, therefore requiring support from two-thirds of the Legislature and would be included on the ballot during the next state general election.
Senate Committee Approves Expansion of Enhancement Millages
The Senate Education Committee passed Senate Bill 574 last week, which would require an ISD enhancement millage to be distributed to public school academies in addition to the traditional constituent districts the ISD serves.
MASB submitted testimony in opposition to the bill; unfortunately, the bill was approved by a 4-0 vote. The bill is being touted as a fairness issue for all students, however, we have many concerns with it. Traditional schools have costs beyond what PSAs do, most notably MPSERS payments and transportation costs. These millages allow those districts to offset some of those costs and keep dollars in the classroom.
SB 574 is now before the full Senate for its consideration and debate.
School Aid Supplemental Ready for Governor
The House passed Senate Bill 133. The supplemental restores funding to a few of the items vetoed by the Governor and makes changes to a handful of other sections.
- $5M for updating CTE equipment
- Revises Section 31A criteria, serve same students as last year, revised criteria standards
- Expands eligibility for GSRP, four years old by December 1
- On average 3 hours of state required testing in each grade level tested
Substitute Teacher Bills to get Hearing in Senate Education Committee
The Senate Education Committee this week will take testimony on bills aiming to address the substitute teacher shortage. House Bills 4421-22 would eliminate the retirement surcharge placed on post-2010 retirees and eliminate the sunset provision on the critical shortage list. The critical shortage list is set to expire in July of 2018 if legislative action isn't taken.
The need is great as districts struggle to fill substitute teacher positions. Everyday more than 700 classrooms across the state go without a needed substitute teacher, leaving building administrators scrambling. The Talent Triangle will be providing testimony and encourage the Senate to take swift action on this legislation.
A quick update on 3% Supreme Court Case
For those who have been waiting years to find out whether or not they will receive their 3 percent retirement contributions back there is good news. Oral arguments before the Supreme Court have been set for November 8. This means employees can expect final resolution on this issue by the summer of 2018. If the court rules in favor of the teachers the more than $550 million will be distributed back to employees. If the court rules in favor of Governor Snyder the money will be put to further reduce the unfunded liablity in the retirement system.
Discussion with locally elected officials
Items of discussion that locally elected officials are discussing that have an impact on the operation of our schools include the following items:
- Clarification on the definition/inclusion of school resource officers as key personnel of school districts subject to the new Zero Tolerance, Seclusion & Restraint Bill.
- District schedules, calendar and pre-Labor Day starts
- Post-Secondary teacher preparation.
In State level news: GSRP students score big gains on M-STEP
Four years ago Michigan made a bold statement by becoming a national leader in early childhood education. The $243 million investment in the Great Start Readiness Program held great promise as it was ushered in with support from the governor, legislature, education, business and philanthropic communities. The research was clear, invest early and reap the benefits of improved outcomes for kids. It's now been four years since the expansion took place. The results are in with the first group of GSRP children taking the third grade M-STEP test last spring.
For the West Michigan region, the promise held true as GSRP children - who are virtually all economically disadvantaged - outperformed their peers who may or may not have had an early childhood experience across the state by roughly 19 percent in reading and 16 percent in math. Furthermore, they outperformed all Michigan students, whom less than half qualify as economically disadvantaged, by roughly 2 percent in reading and 1.3 percent in Math.
For those who ask "is GSRP making a difference?" The answer is unequivocally yes. The resources put into this program produced a substantial return on investment. There is certainly more work to be done to improve academic outcomes for Michigan students, but early childhood education is clearly paying big dividends for students.
The school aid budget and MPSERS rerform has been signed by Governor Snyder.
The School Aid Budget is on its way to the Governor after legislative action this week. This budget process was full of drama, but in the end the final product was one of the better funding proposals under the Snyder administration. That is not to suggest there still isn't significant needs for additional resources. The recent Michigan school finance study and the Governor's own commission said as much.
With that being said, here are some of the main points:
- Foundation Increase -- $60 - $120 per pupil increase via 2X. The new minimum foundation is $7,631 and basic is $8,289
- At-Risk Funding - An additional $120 million was put into at-risk categorical. It provides $777 per pupil. Districts that weren't previously eligible for at-risk funding will receive 30 percent ($233)
- High School Per Pupil Bonus - The budget includes a $25 per pupil bonus for high school students
- Shared-Time Programming - The vast majority of shared-time programming was restored. Full reimbursement will be provided for all pupils under .75 FTE
- MPSERS - MPSERS offset (Sec. 147a - $100 million) was retained in the final product. Additional funds have been set aside to pay for the increased normal costs of the system as a result of the Assumed Rate of Return change and the new MPSERS legislation
- MPSERS Debt Reduction -- $200 million was spent to pay down MPSERS debt
Now for the more controversial items:
- This budget has the largest expenditure out of the SAF to date for universities and community colleges at $630 million. That is roughly $450 per pupil that is going to support those institutions.
- Private school reimbursement funding was retained at $2.5 million despite the ongoing legal challenges to last year's appropriation.
- Establishes a penalty in an amount equal to the amount spent if a district or ISD uses state funding to pay for an expense related to a legal action initiated by the district or ISD against the state.
- Establishes a penalty in an amount equal to 5% of a district or ISD's total State aid if it enters into a collective bargaining agreement that does any of the following: a) establishes racial or religious preferences b) automatically deducts union dues from paychecks c) is in conflict with any State or Federal transparency laws d) uses a method of compensation that does not comply with MCL 380.1250.
Legislative Updates-June, 2017
New MSPERS Bills Pass House and Senate
As reported in earlier updates, both chambers of the Michigan Legislature quickly debated bothHB 4647 and SB 401 in the House and Senate respectively. The bills would make sweeping changes to the Michigan Public School Employee Retirement System (MPSERS) and put all new employees into a 401(k)-style defined contribution (DC) plan or an altered hybrid defined benefit (DB) plan that reflects the current Pension Plus plan.
- Changes will apply to new employees hired after Feb. 1, 2018.
- A new hybrid plan will be created with more conservative assumptions (6% assumed rates of returned and other assumptions yet to be determined).
- New employees will default to an enhanced defined contribution system that matches the state plan (4% mandatory and a 3% match). Increased costs will be paid out of the State School Aid Fund.
- Allows the ORS board to gradually change the retirement age for anyone hired after Feb. 1, 2018, if mortality rates change.
- Disallows t he purchase of service credit for all employees
- If the fund is underfunded below 85% for two consecutive years, the legislature will have 12 months to contribute or the hybrid will close
Budget Process Nears Completion
Completing the state budget in June has long been a priority for Gov. Snyder, and it appears that this year was no exception. Following the MPSERS agreement between the governor’s office and Republican leadership, a finalized $55 billion budget agreement can be expected this week.
State Board of Education Approves Dashboard
The State Board of Education adopted its official policy regarding the state's accountability system for schools this week. The proposed tool contains a dashboard of various school performance areas, in which the performance of a district is compared to the state average as well as similar districts. Unlike previous proposals, the dashboard approved by the State Board does not contain a letter grading metric.
Creating the dashboard was necessary for the state to meet its mandated school accountability benchmarks under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The U.S. Department of Education (USED) is currently reviewing the state's model, and officials have yet to hear whether or not it will be approved.
Federal Update: Title II-A Funding
Over the next few weeks, MASA will be pursuing an aggressive federal campaign to lobby Congress on the importance of Title II-A funds for Michigan educators. These funds are on the chopping block under President Trump’s proposed budget, despite the critical role they play in helping school districts prepare, train and recruit top-notch talent. The impact to HPS is nearly -$142,000 and -$255,000 for Title I.
Contact Your Legislators
District 90, Holland
Representative Daniela Garcia
Mailing Address: Representative Daniela Garcia, N-1194 House Office Building, P.O. Box 30014, Lansing, MI 48909
Her Web Page is located at http://gophouse.org/representatives/westmi/garcia/
District 89, Park Township
Representative Jim Lilly
Mailing Address: Representative Jim Lilly, N-1193 House Office Building, P.O. Box 30014, Lansing, MI 48909
His Web Page is located at http://gophouse.org/representatives/westmi/lilly/
District 80, Laketown Township and Southern part of Holland City
Representative Mary Whiteford
Mailing Address: Representative Mary Whiteford, N-1099 House Office Building, P.O. Box 30014, Lansing, MI 48909
Her Web Page is located at http://gophouse.org/representatives/southwest/whiteford/
Senate District 30-Serving Ottawa County
Senator Arlan Meekhof
Mailing Address: Senator Alran B. Meekhof, PO Box 30036, Lansing, MI 48909-7536
Phone 517-373-6920 or 866-305-2130
His Web Page is located at http://www.senatorarlanmeekhof.com/
Senate District 26-Serving Allegan County
Senator Tonya Schuitmaker
Mailing Address: Senator Tonya Schuitmaker, PO Box 30036, Lansing, MI 48909-7536
Her Web Page is located at http://www.senatortonyaschuitmaker.com/contact/
Governor Rick Snyder
Governor Rick Snyder
P.O. Box 30013
Lansing, Michigan 48909
PHONE: (517) 373-3400
PHONE: (517) 335-7858 - Constituent Services
His Web Page is located at http://www.michigan.gov/snyder