Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Michigan Legislature Leaves on VACATION until Dec. 1st

Schools are in crisis mode and the State Legislators have left for vacation until December 1st!
Contact your legislators NOW!
From the MEA:
As legislators enjoy the Thanksgiving break, schools are left in the lurch again. Lawmakers have cancelled sessions until Dec. 1, a move that means a $127 per pupil proration cut to schools will take effect beginning with the Dec. 20 state aid payment.

Schools started their fiscal year July 1 and many districts have announced that the $127 per student cut -- on top of a previous reduction this school year of $165 per student -- will force layoffs and program cuts. State funding cuts will be even more extreme for districts that receive 20j funds; Gov. Jennifer Granholm previously vetoed $54 million for these schools.

Though the $127 per pupil cut will take place in December, the Legislature could yet restore some funds for K-12 schools. Legislators will have a few days to consider and pass a supplemental budget bill for schools before the state begins processing payments in mid-December.

Please contact your legislators immediately -- ask them to take up a supplemental budget for schools as soon as they return. Tell them what IS HAPPENING IN OUR district -- and to the students you serve -- if the proration cut occurs next month.

Senator Michael Bishop, Senate Majority Leader

Senator Nancy Cassis - Senator for our school district

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday, November 13th, 2009

Dear Fellow WLEA Members,
I am writing today with a great sadness. I can not recall ever working in education and in association business at a worse time than right now. School funding issues have caused unprecedented changes in decision making and thus, in our district.

Today six of our fellow WLEA members were told they will be moved to new positions beginning second semester because their current job positions will be cut. This includes 1 elementary counselor, 4 media specialists, and 1 CRT. In turn, as a result of the elimination of positions and subsequent moves, another five WLEA members will be moved to lay off status.

On November 5th, the Board of Education held a closed session to discuss negotiations prior to the regular Board of Education meeting. The Board directed Dr. Hamilton to make mid-year cuts to abate the loss of revenues to Walled Lake dictated by the State Legislature. The parameters for the position cuts, as agreed to by the Board of Education and Dr. Hamilton, included: 1) not disrupting elementary classroom assignments for this year, and 2) not making any cuts that would involve more than 1 bump. I tell you this, just as a way to communicate how some of the decisions were made by the Walled Lake administration.

As we move ahead in the coming weeks, no one knows if the State Legislature will solve the revenue problems for our school. The future is uncertain. I will try to keep you updated as soon as I have available information. If you need to contact me, please feel free.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Summary of Tuesday's Lansing Happenings (11/10/09)

From Wednesday morning's Detroit News -

Lansing politicians remain in a stand off -

Granholm said she'd back extending a sales tax on services, if districts initiate a ballot proposal. Education leaders said later they're trying to draw up school funding reforms, but haven't focused on a service tax.

"There are 551 school districts. If we get 1,000 signatures per district, we're on the ballot," said Rep. Mark Meadows, D-East Lansing, sponsor of a bill to reduce the sales tax from 6 cents to 5 cents on the dollar and extending the levy to most services.

• Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, who captured the support of House Democrats for a $165-per-student cut to balance the budget with no new taxes, called on Granholm to rescind cuts she has ordered -- including an additional $127-per-student reduction to start in December. He also called on the House to approve a package of Senate-approved bills that would raise $100 million for schools by freezing the earned income tax credit, scaling back film credits and holding a tax amnesty.

• House Democrats, meanwhile, said they're waiting for the Senate to approve a House bill that would freeze the personal income tax exemption. Speaker Andy Dillon, D-Redford Township, is in China trying to bring business home to the state to invigorate the economy.

"The leadership is playing a blame game," said Bill Rustem, president of the Lansing policy think tank Public Sector Consultants.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Monday, Nov. 7th News

Most of you have heard about the cuts in the secretarial units. It is still early, but I do not have any other news at this point.

HOWEVER, the Michigan State Senate is meeting tomorrow and Thursday of this week and will be considering the bill sent to them from the State House that reinstates most of the $127 per pupil cut and 1/2 of 20j funds. (Please read the post from Friday if you have not already done so.)

Tomorrow in Lansing, PTSA's will be gathering to urge the Senate to pass this bill. WE CAN DO OUR PART!!!! Please CALL or EMAIL Senate Majority Leader Bishop and Senator Nancy Cassis (from our Region!). I would love to see 990 emails sitting on each of their desks tomorrow morning as they consider funding for schools! PLEASE DO NOT BE SHY!
The emails do not have to be long, nor do the phone messages. I will give examples below that you can cut and paste, or read aloud over the phone. PLEASE HELP!!!!

Sample email or to leave a voice message:
Dear Senator, I would like to urge you to reinstate the funding lost to the Walled Lake Schools. Essential services to all children will have to be cut with the 2 per pupil funding cuts and the loss of 20J funds. Please vote for quality education by insuring revenue sources that will allow the education children need to be successful with today's mandated requirements and in their future work lives.
Your name
Your home address
Your phone number (if you like)

Senator Michael Bishop, Senate Majority Leader

Senator Nancy Cassis - Senator for our school district

Friday, November 6, 2009

Potential Funding Reinstatement - HELP!!!!

The news from Lansing yesterday - Thursday, November 5th.

An appropriations bill was passed by the House that would allow cuts to K-12 schools to be lessened. The bill would use federal stimulus money to give back all but $10 of the $127 per student cut previously ordered by Governor Granholm. The bill also restores $800,000 for school bus inspections.

The bill also contained an amendment that would PARTIALLY restore $52 million for “high-spending school districts” – the 20J funds - that were eliminated by Gov. Granholm with her line item veto of the 20 J funds. HERE’S the CAVEAT to the return of the 20J funds in the House’s bill ---- half of the resotoration of the $52 million would be given to the “high-spending districts” and the the other half would go to the state's lowest-spending districts.

Another problem - the money to restore the $52 million would come from the “Michigan Future Fund”, a pot which does not yet have a revenue source. This is a problem for the Republicans in the Senate who are ALSO opposed to using the stimulus money set aside for next year. Matt Marsden, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester was quoted as saying, "The House has $100 million in revenue in the Earned Income Tax Credit freeze bill that Democrats refused to use.”

As you can see, the disagreements between the two parties continues and threatens to abort any attempt to restore at least some of the funds that Walled Lake has lost.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE write or call Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop’s office; PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE write or call our local senator’s office, Nancy Cassis. Emails and phone numbers can be found below!

Your voices make a difference no matter which avenue you choose to follow!
(Please remember to use your home email account!)

Senator Michael Bishop, Senate Majority Leader

Senator Nancy Cassis - Senator for our school district