Wednesday, July 1, 2009

"Use It or Lose It"

Amid all the discussions of state revenue shortfalls and cuts to school aid, what is not being discussed are the huge general fund surpluses that most local public school districts in Michigan maintain on an annual basis. Everyone is aware of the down turn in the economy and the loss of state revenues. The state is utilizing the Federal Stimulus money to maintain student foundation grants at the current level for 2009-2010 school year, but school officials around the state are forecasting a huge shortfall for the 2010-2011. As a result districts are demanding concessions at the bargaining table; they are privatizing support staff at an alarming rate, and are urging the legislature to adopt a state wide health insurance plan for all school employees.

What the legislature is not talking about is the growing amount of unused state tax dollars that local schools districts and ISD’s maintain in their general fund surplus balances. At the end of June 2008 K-12 public school districts and ISD’s reported $1.9 billion of unspent general fund tax dollars. The time has come for the legislature to pass “Use It or Lose It” legislation. School districts would be required to spend down their unrestricted general fund surpluses to a reasonable level in order to qualify for a full foundation allowance. This would translate into hundreds of dollars per pupil across the state and would offset any predicted short fall in state aid. Contact State Representative Darwin Booher and urge him to support “Use It or Lose It” legislation for Michigan’s public schools.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Show Your MEA Union Pride

There is an opportunity to join other Northern Zone MEA members in the annual Labor Day Mackinac Bridge Walk on Monday, September 7, 2009. Members from the Northern Zone will be showing their MEA Union Pride by walking the Bridge together. Details will be announced in early August in MEA Voice Online, and the MEA Voice magazine, including where members will meet at the event and how to order a special T-shirt to wear in the activities. Those desiring hotel reservations in Mackinaw City over the Labor Day weekend are encouraged to make arrangements early.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Local Eateries Support "Knowledge Has Value"

Knowledge Has Value place mats are now in use in a number local restaurants in the area. The 15-B MEA Coordinating Council funded the purchase of place mats as part of the Northern Zone's plan to enhance the perception that school employees have a valuable impact on the students they work with and the community they live in.

Please support the following local restaurants:

Big Boy - Cadillac

Burkes Waterfront - Cadillac

Frosty Cup - Cadillac

Flashback Cafe - Marion

Frosty Freeze - Marion

Kelley's - McBain

Mr. Pib's - LeRoy

Lisa's Cafe - Tustin

Lugger's Bar - Luther

The Merry Inn - Manton

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Swine Flu Updates!

Public school employees are on the front line when it comes to identifying the spread of illnesses among children. This is clearly the fact in the most recent outbreak of the swine flu situation. The closing of schools in New York and Texas are the most recent examples. To help prepare MEA members with strategies and updates on how to limit a serious outbreak MESSA is reporting developments on their Website at

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Important Retirement Information

Are you retiring this summer? If you are there is an important decision you will make about enrolling in the insurance plan. If you decide not to enroll you can enroll at a later date but there will be a waiting period. If you do decide to enroll later your coverage will begin on the first day of the sixth month after ORS receives all required forms and proofs of eligibility.

The waiting period can be waived if you or a dependent has an involuntary loss of other group coverage or a qualifying event such as a change in your family status.

So...plan carefully if you are thinking about delaying enrollment in the health insurance plan at retirement.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Return to the 180 Day School Year?

The legislative subcommittee of the State Board Of Education recommended a proposal to return to a 180 school day requirement. (The House passed a 170 days and 1098 hours requirement in the School Aid budget – HB 4447.) The board approved this recommendation stating that the current legislation allowing flexibility (requiring only hours of instruction) in school scheduling has been abused by many districts. They want this requirement to be included in any school reform legislation.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Modest MPSERS Rate Increase for 2009-10

The contribution rate that employers pay to the Michigan Public School Retirement System (MPSERS) will have a very modest increase for the 2009-10 school year. Effective October 1, 2009 employers will pay 16.94% on employees' wages into MPSERS. This is a .4% increase from the 2008-09 rate and is way below the projection of many Superintendents and school Business Officials.

Based on a 2004 study by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan that projected the 2008 contribution rate would surpass 20% of payroll Superintendents have been projecting that retirement costs will have a negative impact on future budgets. The modest increase for 2009-10 disproves that myth.

Mr. Scott Crosby, Superintendent of Wexford-Missaukeee ISD, stated in the Cadillac News he supports legislation that would require school employees share equally any increase in the retirement rate. In other words many employees could realize a pay decrease!

Please voice your view on Mr. Crosby's proposals by leaving a comment on this Blog.