www.mybaycity.com April 28, 2019
Columns Article 11512

SUPPORT FOR PLAN: Superintendents Back Governor on Schools

April 28, 2019
By: Dave Rogers

Yes, Virginia, there is light at the end of the educational tunnel in Michigan.

The state supreme court is the Santa Claus in this scenario, finally acting to benefit students and schools.

The Michigan Supreme Court has ruled in a 6-0 decision that the state must return over $554 million to public school employees. The order, AFT v. Public School Employees' Retirement System, settles a debate over a 2010 law that deducted 3% from teachers" and other public school employees" salaries for retirement healthcare.

This ruling upholds a Michigan Court of Appeals verdict in 2016 that found funds collected from 2010 to 2013 from teachers was unconstitutional. The $554 million has remained in an escrow account since 2013.The Michigan Supreme Court ruled on December 20, 2017, in a 6-0 decision that the state must return over $554 million to public school employees.

Districts will receive the refunds in the January 22 State Aid payment, and districts will be responsible for disbursing the refunds to employees and retirees. Below is an FAQ from the Office of Retirement Services.

MASA (The Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators) supports efforts that protect school funding and work toward a more equitable and stable funding system for all pupils in the State of Michigan. To that end the Association opposes any efforts to erode the stability of the School Aid Fund and any policy mechanisms that intentionally reduce revenues without adequate replacements. Additionally, MASA supports continuing the work that began with the 2016 Michigan Education Finance Study to better understand funding needs for all local and intermediate school districts.

State Assessments

In an era of high stakes evaluation and school accountability, MASA believes that student assessment must be meaningful and consistent. MASA supports an assessment system that accurately and appropriately measures student growth and that can be used to inform the craft of educators. Additionally, MASA believes that the state should adopt an assessment and accountability system that is fair, transparent, open and stable to provide educators with the tools they need to be successful long-term.

"Gov. Whitmer's budget proposal represents a dramatic shift in thinking and embraces the findings of the School Finance Research Collaborative," said Chris Wigent, MASA executive director. "MASA is proud to support the governor's school funding plan, which embraces funding equity, defines real solutions for protecting the School Aid Fund and reflects the removal of higher education from the fund."

If passed, Gov. Whitmer's budget plan would triple the state's number of literacy coaches and create a weighted formula to improve classroom resources for:

-- Special education needs

--Low-income and at-risk children

--Career and Technical Education programs

"This budget, if passed, will give districts more local control over how dollars are spent to ensure that all students get the resources they need to be successful," said Peter Spadafore, MASA's associate executive director of advocacy and communications. "We look forward to working with legislators and our education partners to get a budget passed that will make a difference in the lives of all students."

We applaud that effort also and look forward to a new landscape for learning in Michigan.


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