Thursday, December 4, 2014

More Lame Duck Legislation.........

Information from Steve Norton at MI Parents for Schools

(The comments in the parentheses are me – Terese commenting).

Four Bad Bills being considered in the legislative lame duck session –

Bad Idea #1 - Let's pave the roads with our children's education (Among other things, the idea to eliminate sales tax from gas sales…….sales tax is used to fund schools……with no method set to replace those taxes except for the guess that sales in other areas will increase.   Really?)

Bad Idea #2 - Cut school funding and then take 'em over when they have budget problems (the “Early Warning System”)

Bad Idea #3 - Cut school funding and then force them to flunk 3rd graders who don't test well in reading (We want students to learn, but what is magic about 3rd grade?   Has flunking a kid ever really increased academic performance?  Because, if it did, wouldn’t it be done more frequently?)

Bad Idea #4 - Cut school funding, and then slap a simplistic letter grade on them to show how badly they're doing (I’d like to know the criteria for a grade and schools are never simply ONE thing, so how can there be one grade that would reflect how a school is doing?)

Go to the “MI Parents for Schools” site for full information on these bills!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

"Taking Away Our Schools" from Michigan Parents for Schools

The Lame Duck Sessions are revving up in Lansing and the following bills are predicted to skip committee hearings and come to the floor of the legislature as early as Thursday.

Go to the link below to read more information from "Michigan Parents for Schools" and CALL YOUR LEGISLATOR......leave a message!

Here is the basic information about these bills.  Walled Lake could become one of these schools if only because the STATE ITSELF has caused us to spend less per pupil over the years with their school aid cuts!  This is ludicrous!

From "Michigan Parents for Schools" -

Here is a good example of why we need to tell our story. A package of bills now before the Michigan Senate would give the state even more power to take over school districts that "might" be in financial distress. What's wrong with this picture?
  • As we argued in our recent article, most districts are having financial troubles because the state has not given them decent funding, not because they have been throwing money to the wind.
  • There are over 19 indicators the state could use to say your district could be in "financial distress." The MI Assn of School Boards says just 2 of these indicators could catch over 250 school districts in its net - close to half!
  • The bills give broad new powers to the state Dept. of Treasury to take over districts and demand sweeping cuts. Are the folks who process our tax returns the right people to make sound decisions for our schools?
  • The emergency manager rules are bad enough, but these bills would allow Treasury to skip over any review process or local objections and ask the Governor directly for an emergency manager for a school district. Why be so eager to strip us of control of our local community schools?
This is bad law no matter how you look at it.

Monday, November 3, 2014

ONLINE Voter Guide from the MEA

If you did not vote by absentee ballot.....
Click on the link and it will take you to an MEA site where you can enter your address and get the MEA endorsement list for your very own home area!  No lists to wade through!  No congressional numbers to remember!   GIVE IT A TRY!!!


Friday, October 31, 2014

You HAVE to read this!

I was sitting watching TV with my husband a week or so ago.   One of those Snyder ads came on and they were telling we viewers that Snyder had actually paid money to into the retirement system.   My husband looked to me and said, "Is that true?"

I sat there for a minute.  If someone I’m married to can ask me that question ….and I’m not one to stay quiet….then, there are a whole lot of people listening to that ad and not bothering to ask, “is that true?”.

I am so passionate about the topic, I can not let this go unaddressed.  I am communicating with you member to member, and you can communicate this with other members and friends.  This Tuesday’s election will be one of the most important ever in the history of public education.  Our survival is dependent on it.  But first, I believe I need to address some of these financial claims made on TV by the Snyder group.

Let’s start with Mr. Snyder’s first year in office -  He did make over $1 billion dollars in cuts to the School State Aid Fund.   This amounted to $470 per student cut for Walled Lake!  That has NEVER been replaced.  There have been different ways over the last 3 years that our district could earn some of those funds back.  Remember “best practices” and “performance money”?  WLCSD has been able to meet “best practices” for two years, and we did get some “performance money” in one year, but not to the tune of $470.   Some years the government put money into the School State Aid Fund, but it went to community colleges.  Despite these bits of money over the years, they never stay as part of our state aid from year to year.  They are not accumulative.  They go away.  So, at the beginning of each new school year, we have $470 less per student than we had the year before Snyder’s cuts.

This past year Mr. Snyder says he put over $700,000 new dollars into education, but here’s how that worked out.   The “poorer” districts in the state received an extra $175 per student in state aid (this does not fill in the $470 hole from previous years).   Walled Lake was considered a “richer” district because we get about $8165 per student, so the state gave us an extra $50 per student.   Huron Valley, our neighbor, got the $175.  Farmington didn't get $175 per student, but Farmington’s state funding per student is closer to $10,000 compared to our $8100.  Just to measure ours against some other neighbors; Bloomfield Hills and Birmingham get over $11,000 per student, Southfield gets $10,800 per student and West Bloomfield get $8676.   Feeling “rich” yet?

Just to give you a few facts: 
In 2009 WLCSD’s per pupil payment amount was $8926.
In 2011, it was $8165
In 2013, it was $8195

In 2008 WLCSD’s total fund revenue was $162, 991,000
In 2013-2014, their total revenue was $153,954,661.

Fund Equity…..our district is spending plenty of its fund equity.
In 2012, the fund equity in Walled Lake was a little over $16 million
This year our fund equity is $8,383,329.  We have spent close to 8 million out of the fund equity to make up for lost state funding.  So, that could be considered a good thing.  Why save that much money?  However, that kind of spending cannot be sustained too much longer.

The next funding piece that the Snyder group brags about is when they say they have helped the school districts pay the retirement costs for teachers.  Honestly, they have, but there is WAY more to it.  In fact, it is a bit of a shell game.  To explain it I need to go back to the recent retirement reforms.

During the retirement reform year, all of us needed to go to our ORS Retirement Accounts with the state and make choices.  We had to agree to pay more to retain a 1.5% multiplier, and we had to agree to pay 3% to have a health care subsidy in retirement.   You could choose not to pay those things, but then your retirement income and healthcare would be figured in different ways and would be reduced.

In exchange for these INCREASED COSTS TO YOU, the state was going to lower the percentage of our incomes the school districts had to pay into the state retirement system themselves.  At the time, the schools were paying a bit over 26% into the system.  (the amount varies a bit because it is determined by how many teachers at any particular time are enrolled in the multiple different retirement plans that have different costs).    Well, the state did lower that amount to around 25%, not much of a savings.  However, they then raised it to 30%.    So, what the SNYDER group has done is that they send the school districts the extra 5% above the initial 25% charge in real dollars, but the next week the school districts are billed for that SAME 5%.   It is just money IN and money OUT.   The school districts don’t get to keep it!  And, the school districts are still paying the SAME 25% into the retirement system as they have in the past.   

Snyder then tells the state voters of the millions of dollars he is paying into the teacher retirement system.  He says he is "shoring it up",  and that this means the schools should have more money to spend on other things.   But this money being given to the districts is not money they have to spend.  They just send it back to the state.  There are no new savings on retirement costs for the districts.  They are still $470 down in per pupil funding…..they hope they can meet “best practices” requirements to get $50 more…..they are still paying 25% into the retirement system.

Snyder tells a story that distorts the truth.   The schools are being broken, caused to slowly fail, between funding cuts and new requirements.  If you are a teacher, you live this every day in your classrooms through increased class sizes, increased testing and curriculum, and you get very little if any extra support services for students who need help.

Can you live through another 4 years of these kinds of stories and mis-truths?  
Can your families continue to have you working day and night just to do the basics of your job because so much has been piled on?  
Has the education of Michigan’s children been improved by Snyder fiscal policies????  
Ask yourself, what will be the next move of a Snyder-based state government?   Will it make your situation better?

Please have no doubt, we need a new state government to be able to survive as an institution and as individuals.  TUESDAY!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Online Voter Guide from the MEA

Good morning!
Some of you may have already received this link through MEA's "Capitol Comments", but just in case I wanted to share it again!

Click on the link and it will take you to an MEA site where you can enter your address and get the MEA endorsement list for your very own home area!  No lists to wade through!  No congressional numbers to remember!   GIVE IT A TRY!!!


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

How to Help out! - From the MEA

Member-to-Member Virtual Phone Banking

The last two weeks of the 2014 Election will be critical to getting out the vote.
We need your help to make phone calls to MEA members to make sure they head to the polls and support Mark Schauer and other friends of public education.
This year, we’re using a new technology – Virtual Phone Banking – to help make these calls quickly and efficiently.  The best part is you can volunteer make these calls from the comfort of your home – all you need is a phone and a computer.  

To volunteer, please email us at – let us know your name, home email address, local association, and which days you can volunteer.

You can also fill out our online form at, or leave us a voicemail at 517-580-5029 with your information.

You’ll get an email with a link to log into the website, which will tell you the members’ names and numbers you need to call, along with the script. 

We’ll be calling almost every day between now and Election Day, so you can volunteer as much time as you have to give.

Please, share this information with others who are interested in helping. 
The more volunteers we recruit for the Virtual Phone Bank, the more calls we can make and the more votes we’ll get for public education on Nov. 4!

Volunteer today for Virtual Phone Banking!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Cuts or no cuts - who to believe?

As the November election for governor approaches, much is being said about cuts to education......with the current governor saying he has given over a billion dollars to education.  I have even heard it referred to as "new" dollars.  I am still not sure I understand that....and I will try to explain that in another post.

But what is undeniable is that in his first year in office, spending to education was cut by over $1billion dollars by which a tax break was given to corporations.   This amounted to a $470 dollar cut in per pupil funding that has never been replaced.   EACH year since that first year, the per pupil funding is $470 less than it was the year before Snyder took office.

For more information, go to Kids Not CEO's.   You can look at the funding cuts for each school district by choosing from a drop down menu.

CLICK HERE to go to the "Kids No CEO's" Website

Here's a picture of the cuts to Walled Lake:

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Voting - Registered? Did you need to request an absentee ballot?

Walled Lake Schools is asking the community to RENEW the non-homestead and hold-harmless operating millage on the Nov. 4 ballot.  THIS IS A RENEWAL and is NOT AN INCREASE in taxes.

The 18 mill non-homestead (generally applies to businesses or those with second homes) millage represents $23 million of the District’s operating budget while the 3.9 mill hold harmless renewal millage represents $7 million of the District’s budget.

This is a total of $30 million 20 percent of the District’s one year only total budget. (Current yearly budget is $154 million).  This loss of revenue would be devastating for our district.

If you have not done so, please register to vote at the link below BY OCTOBER 6th!
ClickHERE to register to vote by the October 6 deadline.
  1. An Absentee Voter Application - Click HERE for the absentee voter application
  2. A list of local offices that this application can be sent to or delivered to:  Click HERE for a list of municipal offices.
You can request Absentee Voter Ballots through the Saturday before the election!   But sometimes, sooner is better!

Friday, September 19, 2014

2012 Amendments to Retirement Act Legislation & YOUR 2010 3% payment!

Michael M. Shoudy, General Counsel
Michigan Education Association

Oral argument on the 2012 amendments to the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement Act (Public Act 300) is scheduled to take place before the Michigan Supreme Court on October 9, 2014 during the morning session.  THIS IS NOT THE 3% CASE BASED ON THE 2010 AMENDMENTS TO Michigan Public School Employees Retirement Act (PUBLIC ACT 75).   

The 2012 case relates to elections that members of the retirement system were required to make in 2013.  We lost this case in the lower courts.  After legal arguments on October 9 are presented, the Court officially has until 2015 to render its decision.  However, we are hopeful that a decision will be issued in 2014.

The 2010 case relates to the 3% withheld from wages.  That money is currently being held in escrow by court order.  In that case, we won in the trial court and in front of the Michigan Court of Appeals.  The State of Michigan appealed the decision to the Michigan Supreme Court.  On May 22, 2014, the Michigan Supreme Court issued an order putting this case on hold, stating they wanted to decide the 2012 case first.   While the MEA understands how important the 2010 case is to our members, there is no mechanism to force the Court to decide the case.  We have asked that the Court to expedite its decision regarding the 3%.