Friday, February 27, 2009
Just a reminder that the deadline for students to submit applications to high school counselors for the KCEA Scholarships is next Friday, March 6 by 5 pm.
The deadline for submitting applications to KCEA Local Presidents for the KCEA Teachers of the Year Award and Support Staff Persons of the Year Awards is also next Friday, March 6 by 5 pm.
Both counselors and Presidents have until Friday, March 20 by 5 pm to submit their final choice from these submissions to KCEA.
All Dependent Scholarship Applications need to be received in the KCEA office by 5 pm next Friday, March 6 by 5 pm. These are the only student scholarships that are not selected by the counselors.
Click here for applications.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
For more information about the Federal Stimulus check out the following on the U.S. Department of Education web-site:
· A table showing the amounts provided for the Department’s programs under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), in pdf at http://www.ed.gov/about/overview/budget/budget09/09recovery.pdf and in Microsoft Excel at http://www.ed.gov/about/overview/budget/budget09/09recovery..xls.
· Tables showing preliminary State allocations of FY 2009 funds provided under the ARRA at http://www.ed.gov/about/overview/budget/statetables/recovery.html. These do not include funds that will be allotted from the yet-to-be-enacted regular FY 2009 appropriation.
· Preliminary estimates of ESEA Title I LEA allocations of supplemental FY 2009 funds under ARRA at http://www.ed.gov/about/overview/budget/titlei/fy09recovery/index.html. Again, these do not include funds that will be allotted from the yet-to-be-enacted regular FY 2009 appropriation.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Increase the multiplier to 2% for those who retire during the designated window.
The window to apply to retire is April 1, 2009 through March 31, 2010.
The window to retire is from 30 days after application through June 30, 2010.
The member must go directly from active employment to collecting a pension.
The member must agree to have his/her pension suspended if s/he returns to work in a public school as a contract employee within two years.
If the member is in a critical shortage discipline as compiled by the State Superintendent as of October 8, 2008, s/he may elect to continue work for up to one year past June 30, 2010 and receive the benefit. These people must apply in the same window as everyone else.
The bill as introduced contains a cap on the total cost of the additional liability at $1.5 billion. If more employees apply than can be accommodated within that cap the employees with the greatest amount of service credit worked in the system will receive priority.
Employees who do not qualify because of the cap on the number who can take the stimulus will have their application automatically voided so they don’t get forced to retire at the 1.5% rate (they could re-apply at the lower rate if they choose to do so).
Budget 2009-10 – The budget was introduced on February 18 and referred to committee. This year the education budget bills will go through the House of Representatives first, then to the Senate, conference committee, final passage and then the Governor. As everyone knows, the initial Executive Budget proposal calls for $164 million in specific cuts to K-12 in order to resolve the difference between projected SAF revenue and expenditures. A little over half of this comes from a $59/pupil reduction in the foundation allowance. The rest comes from ISD operations and a variety of K-12 cuts. The total difference between the final K-12 budget for 2008-09 and the proposal for 2009-10 is about $410 million to the negative.
Community colleges will receive the same funding as this year under the Governor’s proposal for 2009-10.
Public universities take a hit of 3% in the allocation for each institution. Combined with other cuts, higher education is reduced by a total of $100 million when compared to this year.
Mandatory Attendance – Two bills have been introduced and reported to the full House of Representatives requiring mandatory attendance to age 18. They are HB 4030 sponsored by Douglas Geiss (D -Taylor), and HB 4132 sponsored by Lamar Lemmons (D – Detroit). The difference in the two bills is that HB 4030 would apply to all students as of the effective date while HB 4132 would apply to students who turned 14 years of age by December 1, 2007 or later. The MEA supported the bills in committee recognizing that additional work needs to be done developing programs to meet the needs of students who dropout of school.
Privatization – HB 4219, sponsored by Rep. Fred Miller (D-Mt.Clemens) would remove the prohibition in the Public Employment Relations Act against school employees having the right to negotiate over the issue of privatization of their services. This bill has been referred to the House Labor Committee. We also know that Rep. Doug Bennett (D- Muskegon) plans to re-introduce his bill calling for a cost benefit study prior to a decision to privatize and Rep. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) plans to re-introduce his bill giving existing employees the right to bid on any work that is slated for outsourcing/privatization.
First Class School Definition – HB 4047 sponsored by Rep. Bettie Scott (D-Detroit) would change the definition of a first class school district to one that has at least 60,000 students. Currently the number is 100,000 students. This is important to the Detroit Democrats and is therefore important to everyone one because they may be willing to trade something else to get it.
Charter Schools - Related to the first class school issue is HB 4063 sponsored by Rep. Lamar Lemmons (D-Detroit). It would remove the prohibition against community colleges issuing charters in a first class school district (Detroit), a provision that has been in the School Code since charters were first established in Michigan in the mid-1990s. It effectively allows Bay Mills Community College, a statewide Native American institution, to issue charters in every district except Detroit without regard to the overall cap on the number of charter schools in the State. Bay Mills has used this loophole to open over 30 charters in this decade. Under HB 4063 Bay Mills could also authorize charters in Detroit on the same basis as it does in the rest of the State.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Conferees have reached agreement on a final economic recovery package but final details have not yet been released. Reports indicate that the $789 billion package includes significant investments in education – a direct result of your intensive advocacy over the past few weeks.
Initial details of the package have been provided by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office although no official bill language has been released. According to the Speaker’s summary, key elements of the package include:
$53.6 billion State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, including $40.6 billion to local school districts using existing funding formulas, which can be used for preventing cutbacks, preventing layoffs, school modernization, or other purposes;
$13 billion for Title I grants;
$12.2 billion for IDEA (Special Education);
Increase in maximum Pell Grant by $500, for maximum of $5,300 in 2009 and $5,500 in 2010;
New bond-financing program for school construction, rehabilitation, and repair - reportedly close to $20 billion;
One-time payment for retirees: $250.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
This morning the MEA, along with a bi-partisan, bi-cameral group of legislators, unveiled a proposal to implement a School Employee Retirement Stimulus (SERS) over the next 18 months. The proposal is to allow school employees who qualify for retirement but who have not chosen to retire an opportunity to retire between the end of the 2008-09 and the 2009-10 school year and receive a multiplier of 2.0% times final average compensation instead of the normal 1.5% multiplier. Under the proposal any savings would be retained by local school districts, not diverted to other State obligations.
Background for this proposal is the fact that the economic downturn is having a devastating effect on the school aid fund, among others. Preliminary estimates of the January Revenue Estimating Conference are that the SAF will face an imbalance of a negative $425 million in 2009-10. That translates to a loss of $73 per pupil for every district in the state. If history is any guide, the actual budget shortfall will be much higher than this preliminary estimate. We also face the loss of thousands of students due to lower birth rates and the severe out-migration of families from Michigan.
These factors will place a heavy burden on school budgets which will be felt at the bargaining table, through staff reductions (either by attrition or actual lay-off), further pressure to outsource and privatize educational support services, increased class sizes and workloads. If the history of the late 1970s and 1980s repeats itself, we could see another "lost generation" of young people who prepare for careers in education only to find a complete dearth of job opportunities in Michigan schools who then leave the state or go into other careers.
These forces have a negative effect on the stability of the pension fund itself. Fewer employees make for more instability in the pension funding.
We have also seen a tendency of school employees who are eligible to retire do so in smaller numbers. This phenomenon seems to be correlated with the economic uncertainty that we all feel.
Under the proposal this morning, the Michigan Public School Employee act would be amended. A window in which to apply for the SERS would be created by law. The proposal is for the window to run from March, 2009 through March, 2010. Eligible employees who take advantage of the proposal would be required to retire between June, 2009 and June, 2010. Those who do so would receive the 2% multiplier when their pensions are calculated.
In addition to MEA President Iris Salters, the following legislators were at the press conference at the Capital this morning: Rep. Fred Miller (D-Mt. Clemens), Sen. Wayne Kuipers (R-Holland), Rep. Barb Byrum (D-Onondaga), Sen. John Gleason (D-Flushing), Sen. Roger Kahn (R-Saginaw), Rep. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge), Sen. Bruce Patterson (R-Canton), Sen. Jim Barcia (D-Bay City) Several other legislators have expressed interest/support for the proposal but were unable to attend this morning.
WE MUST STRESS THAT THIS IS A PROPOSAL AND IT HAS A LONG WAY TO GO IN ORDER TO BECOME LAW. THE PROCESS IT MUST GO THROUGH IS:
Bills must be drafted and introduced (requests for bill drafting are going in now)
Committees of the House and/or Senate must decide to take them up, hold hearings and report them to the respective legislative bodies.
The full House or the full Senate must act on them
Send to the other body
The committee of the other body must decide to take them up and report them to the floor.
That body must act on them (same possibilities as #3 above)
The bills go back to the first house to agree to any amendments
If passed by both houses in the same form, then they go to the Governor to sign or to veto.
All of this is to say that no one should be applying to retire now. Likewise, local bargaining strategy should not be changed by this proposal. If and when we successfully pass and have singed into law this proposal, or some variation on it, there will be ample time for everyone to understand what was passed and make retirement decisions and bargaining decisions accordingly.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
TELL SENATE TO PASS ECONOMIC RECOVERY BILL
Thanks to your e-mails to your Senators last week, threatened cuts to education in the Senate economic recovery proposal were largely averted. A compromise reached this weekend leaves much of the education funding that flows directly to local school districts untouched.
This economic recovery package is very important. It will help save jobs and put more money immediately into struggling local economies. It will also reduce pressure on state budgets so more cuts to important programs can be avoided.
The package includes funding flexible funding for local school districts, increased funding for Title I and special education, and tax credits to help school districts finance school modernization and repair.
Click here to tell members of the Senate to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act