Feature

Two charter school companies vie for Muskegon Heights schools

By the end of this week, Muskegon Heights Public Schools Emergency Manager Don Weatherspoon will have sold the entire school district to one of two for-profit charter school management companies—Leona Group or Mosaica Education. It’s an unprecedented move to eliminate the district’s $12.4 million debt and it signals the end to traditional public education for more than 1,400 students in Muskegon Heights.

The current school district would no longer exist, but would still have to pay off the debt using its local millage, a 3 percent fee from the charter school company, rent from its buildings and whatever other means the state Department of Education and Treasury approve. The charter school would be in charge of educating children and receive the district’s $7,397 per-pupil funding, but the school district would oversee the operations of the charter school company.

SB 1040 still in limbo; contact legislators today

With reports that sides are very close to a deal, the fate of SB 1040 is still in question with only two days left for legislators to deal with the issue. The House needs to act on the bill before the Senate can finalize it.

What to do with new hires remains a point of contention in the bill. The House Republicans want to give new employees the option of the current hybrid pension plan or a plain 401(k), while the Senate Republicans want to require that they move into a 401k only plan. Both sides agree that they want to end retiree health care for new hires.

Another major difference is the House version of the bill includes provisions to pre-fund health costs and start bringing down the $45 billion unfunded liability in the system.

With only two days left before the summer legislative break, time is running out. It’s critical that you contact your Senator and Representative today and let them know the impact this bill will have on current and retired school employees and those new to the profession.

Urge NO vote on SB 1040 in House this week

The Legislature reconvenes Tuesday for what could be its final week before their summer break and indications are that SB 1040 – the unprecedented assault on school employee retirement – will be on the agenda.

Many State Representatives are still unsure how they will vote on this bill that attacks the retirement security of future, current and retired school employees across the state.  Contact them today!  Urge them to vote NO on SB 1040.  It’s not a fix for a long-term problem—one that school employees didn’t create. It merely shifts the financial burden from school districts to current and retired school employees who are already paying more than their share.  Let them know that taxes on pensions, salary cuts and increased costs for health insurance are robbing you of the ability to support yourself and your family. 

House meets on budget today; SB 1040 still awaits action

SB 1040 saw no action in the House yesterday, but Representatives are meeting at noon today--probably to complete the budget. Regardless, we need to keep the pressure on Representatives to vote NO on the bill that puts the burden of paying for retirement on the backs of current, future and retired school employees.

 
Contact your Representative today. Let them know that taxes on pensions, salary cuts and increased costs for health insurance and retirement are robbing you of the ability to support yourself and your family. 
 
We will keep you updated on any developments.

SPECIAL LEGISLATIVE ALERT: House may take up SB 1040 today

We've gotten information that the House may be taking up SB 1040 today--the plan to gut school employee retirement. The House made several changes to the Senate version, but some of the most damaging portions are still in place, such as forcing retirees to pay 20 percent of their health care.

It's critical that you contact your Representatives and urge them to vote NO on SB 1040. It's not a fix for a long-term problem--a problem that school employees didn't create. It merely shifts the financial burden from school districts to current and retired school employees who are already paying more than their share.

 

EM turns Muskegon Heights schools into charter district, terminates staff

Statement from MEA President Steven Cook on Muskegon Heights School Restructuring Plan

There will be school in Muskegon Heights this fall, but it will look very different.

Late last Friday afternoon, Don Weatherspoon, Muskegon Heights’s appointed Emergency Manager (EM), announced his plan to turn the school district into the first charter school district in Michigan. He is taking bids from private companies and is expected to award the job on June 6.

Earlier in the week, teachers were notified they were being laid off and could reapply for their jobs. Now, however, they’ve been told they are terminated and their jobs sold off to the lowest bidder.

“Our teachers had no advance knowledge of the Emergency Manager’s plan to convert the school district into a charter school system. We have been left out of the planning process. The staff, students and community are paying the price for the district’s financial mismanagement that they had nothing to do with creating,” said Muskegon Heights EA President Joy Robinson.

House Appropriations passes SB 1040--with more changes

SB 1040 is on its way to the full House after the House Appropriations Committee reported it out on a party-line vote of 17-10 with some important changes. The H-2 substitute approved today revised the previous H-1 substitute that was discussed by Committee members yesterday.

House Committee moving closer to SB 1040 vote

At today’s House Appropriations Committee meeting, Committee members had their chance to ask questions of representatives from the House Fiscal Agency and Phil Stoddard, Director of Michigan’s Office of Retirement (ORS) about SB 1040 and the H-1 amendment .

House Committee approves SB 1040 sub; hears testimony

Last week, the Senate passed SB 1040 with changes, and this morning the House Appropriations Committee took up the legislation in an “emergency” Monday meeting. After making their own modifications to the bill, the Committee heard testimony from retirees and current and future school employees who described the devastating financial impact SB 1040 would have.

House committee to take up SB 1040 on Monday--Come to the Capitol!

After passing through the Senate, SB 1040 is on a fast track through the House.

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