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Select top stories, Member Kudos and other articles are archived below.


DashBoard, Jan. 11, 2017

Elections have concluded and your first meeting in January is coming up soon (or just happened). You arrive at your meeting and look around the board table asking yourself, “Who is that person?” Well, maybe it isn’t quite like that as you may know they are a new board member, but do you really know them or just know of them?

Whether you’ve started negotiations for the coming year or not, it’s a good time to make sure that you are adequately prepared for the process. The following is a “Checklist for Negotiations” that will help get your negotiations started on the right foot.

Coming on the heels of a rather successful lame duck, we’re looking to get quickly back into the swing of things here at the Capitol with more than 40 new Representatives taking office this January.

The beginning of a new year is a time when many of us look toward the coming months with great expectation. The calendar pages are still crisp, and possibilities are plentiful. For leaders, there is no lack of opportunities to do good work, and those calendar pages that seemed infinite on Jan. 1, start flying by in no time at all.

DashBoard, Jan. 18, 2017

Last spring, the U.S. District Court Judge John Corbett O’Meara issued a permanent injunction barring the Michigan Secretary of State from enforcing the so-called ‘Gag Order Law,’ which severely limited the ability of school districts to communicate with voters about ballot questions, including bond and sinking fund proposals. While there was talk about fixing the statute in question, the problematic language still remains on the books (see Subsection 3).

Gov. Rick Snyder delivered his State of the State address last night to a joint session of the House and Senate. He talked about many of the things that were accomplished in the last year, giving credit to the various legislators and others who helped make them happen.

Yesterday, the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee began confirmation hearings on the nomination of Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary.

Thinking back to when I was a new school board member, I remember reading through my first board packet. Not only did I wonder what it all meant, I began to question my ability to be an effective board member. As I floundered my way through those first few meetings, there were a few things that I found to be very helpful for my transition and in bringing me up to speed. I would like to share those items that I believe are important for all veteran board members to remember as we help transition new board members to their position.

DashBoard, Jan. 25, 2017

Times are difficult on both sides of the bargaining table. With little money to spend, districts are generally offering little in terms of teacher wage increases. Meanwhile, teachers have been seeing their wages suppressed for years and are becoming more and more disillusioned; often directing their frustrations at an increasingly cash-strapped administration. The result can often be gridlock at the bargaining table.

Last Friday, the state School Reform Office issued the most recent bottom 5% list while, at the same time, releasing 79 schools from the Priority School List. According to the state, this is the first time more schools were released from the list than added. In publishing the new list, however, the SRO has also identified 38 schools that now move to the "next level of accountability," which could include closure. Twenty-four of those schools are in Detroit, either the public school district or the Education Achievement Authority.

MASB’s Government Relations Team held 10 regional meetings in September and October of last year across the state to gather input from board members and superintendents on what your Association’s focus should be for the 2017-2018 legislative session. Following the regional meetings, all of the ideas were put into a survey sent out to all board members to choose their priorities for MASB. More than 700 people participated in the survey.

I heard a story a few weeks ago that made my husband laugh, my mother cry and me instantly think about professional learning. It goes something like this. . .

DashBoard, Feb. 1, 2017

MERC has adopted Administrative Law Judge Travis Calderwood’s Decision and Recommended Order that an employer may refuse a union’s request to record investigatory interviews of its bargaining unit members.

Michigan was once again well represented and, along with Texas, had the largest delegation with more than 70 members, at the National School Board Association’s Advocacy Institute in Washington, D.C. earlier this week. In all, more than 700 school board members from across the country descended on our nation’s Capitol to stand up for public education.

MASB is governed by a 19-member Board of Directors made up of two directors from each of the eight Regions, and one director each from Groups V, VI and VII.

Directors are elected by MASB member districts to serve up to three-year terms. Ballots for three Regions (3, 4 and 6) were distributed via email to superintendent secretaries in the last week for each district to cast its vote in this year’s elections.

DashBoard, Feb. 8, 2017

As Gov. Rick Snyder prepares to deliver his budget on Wednesday, four Michigan education associations that represent leaders and decisionmakers in Michigan’s 640 school districts and ISDs have a message for him: make a data-informed decision and invest in public education.

ISD boards of education that hold elections under Section 614 of the Revised School Code were not affected by Public Act 233 of 2011, which moved popular school elections to even years in November. Section 614 elections for ISD school boards are still held biennially on the first Monday in June at a meeting of representatives from constituent boards of education. In 2017, the elections will be held on June 5.

Don Wotruba, Executive Director of the Michigan Association of School Boards, issued the following statement on the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as the U.S. Secretary of Education:

A new year and new legislative session bring new priorities for the Michigan Association of School Boards. Our group represents more than 4,000 elected school board members in over 500 districts across the state.

When school boards and school administrators finalize their hiring decisions, care should be taken to maintain any records relating to hiring new employees. Federal regulations implementing Title VII and the Americans With Disabilities Act require school districts to retain all records pertaining to employment decisions for a period of two years. Specifically, 29 C.F.R. § 1602.40 states that any personnel or employment record having to do with “hiring, promotion, demotion, transfer, layoff or termination” shall be preserved by a school district for a period of two years from the date of the making of the record or the personnel action involved, whichever occurs later.

DashBoard, Feb. 15, 2017

Over the past several weeks, I have had the pleasure of teaching a number of classes to board members, and one topic always sparks a lot of discussion is the Open Meetings Act and electronic communication. At the heart of the matter is the tension between the ease with which we can connect with people at the touch of a button and the OMA requirement that board members conduct their school business in a way that the public can see.

Last week, Gov. Rick Snyder released his 2017-2018 budget recommendations to the Legislature. We were pleased to see that they included a $325 million investment in education. Specific highlights of the School Aid Fund line items include:

Following months of public input, the Michigan Department of Education released the full draft plan for meeting the requirements of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. The draft plan was detailed at yesterday's State Board of Education meeting.

DashBoard, Feb. 22, 2017

Last week, the House Committee on Tax Policy narrowly approved House Bill 4001 after approximately an hour of testimony. HB 4001 as introduced would change the income tax rate from the current 4.25 to 3.9% in 2018, and then each year following would roll it back by 0.1% until it was eliminated.

For districts with labor contracts expiring this summer, now is the time to begin preparing for your labor group negotiations. While over the past few years some laws have changed, removing certain topics from the bargaining table, this does not mean that the negotiation process has become easier. Indeed, as many Michigan districts continue to deal with falling enrollment and decreasing revenues, it has become more difficult than ever to reach an agreement that is fiscally responsible for your district while also satisfying the labor groups.

On Jan. 10, we officially launched the School Finance Research Collaborative, a broad-based and diverse group of Republicans, Democrats, Independents, business leaders and education experts from Metro Detroit to the U.P. who agree it’s time to change the way Michigan’s schools are funded.

DashBoard, March 1, 2017

At the end of January, House Resolution 610 was introduced in Congress by Rep. Steve King (R-IA). The legislation, commonly referred to as the Choices in Education Act, has garnered much attention online and in the media, but it is unclear if or when the legislation could move forward. It is now sitting in the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

Last week, the House tried to pass House Bill 4001, which would have rolled back the income tax rate. The version that was brought up for a vote would have rolled back the rate to 3.9% over the next four years and added a freeze in the rate if the budget stabilization fund was less than $1 billion. Obviously this was better than total elimination, but our concerns with creating a hole in the budget that totaled more than $1 billion in four years remained.

DashBoard, March 8, 2017

The Michigan Department of Education threw out a “lifeline” to the schools on the state’s potential closure list last Wednesday. In a letter to the affected districts, State Superintendent Brian Whiston provided an option to enter into a partnership model agreement with MDE to turnaround their chronically failing schools. This partnership would give the districts and MDE 18 months to show improvement in the affected schools.

On Monday, the Supreme Court remanded the case of transgender teen, Gavin Grimm, who is seeking to be able to use the boys’ bathroom in his Virginia high school. The Court sent the case back to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, instructing it to reconsider its April 19, 2016 decision, which relied on Obama-era guidance from the U.S. Department of Education. That guidance had concluded that schools “generally must treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity,” including access to bathrooms corresponding to students’ gender identities.

DashBoard, March 15, 2017

The 21st Century Education Commission released its long-awaited report on Friday. The Commission was formally created in March 2016 by Gov. Rick Snyder through Executive Order 2016-6. The Commission was chaired by Dr. Thomas Haas, President of Grand Valley State University, who worked with 24 other members representing their fields as administrators, teachers, unions, business leaders, higher education representatives, state government, charter school leaders and early childhood experts.

Detroit Public Schools Community District and Swan Valley School District were recognized with first place awards in the 23rd annual Magna Awards program sponsored by the National School Boards Association’s American School Board Journal. The awards, supported by Sodexo, recognize school districts and their leaders for taking bold and innovative steps to improve the lives of their students and communities.

As the Michigan Department of Education continues working on its Top 10 in 10 plan and how it will implement the requirements outlined in the Every Student Succeeds Act, how schools are assessed was in the spotlight earlier this week as State Superintendent Brian Whiston stated that MDE no longer was planning to implement an A-F grading system. Public input was noted as the reason for the change.

DashBoard, March 22, 2017

It may be just a drop in the bucket when it comes to overall school funding dollars, but any amount of public money to private schools is too much. MASB joined with other public education and parent groups to sue the state and Gov. Rick Snyder over the $2.5 million line item in the state budget that would reimburse private schools for state mandates.

The Legislature is already considering many issues affecting education and are moving along in the budget process. The upcoming MASA/MASB Legislative Conference provides you with the perfect opportunity to advocate on behalf of your district, its students and public education in Michigan.

Bargaining season is in full swing and while your labor negotiation team is busy discussing steps, lanes, calendars and insurance contributions it is important not to overlook the importance of the contract language itself. The MASB Legal Team continues to come across contracts that include prohibited subjects of bargaining, illegal agency shop provisions and clauses that mandate union dues deductions, among other problems.

DashBoard, March 29, 2017

Yesterday, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on School Aid released and reported their proposed School Aid Budget to the full House of Representatives with all Republicans voting yes and all Democrats voting no. The Senate released and reported its version this morning with all Republicans voting for it while the lone Democrat on the committee abstained. While there are some bright spots in the budget, there is also cause for concern and many areas of disagreement between this budget and Gov. Rick Snyder’s recommendation, which was widely praised.

Last week, the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District RE-1. In the case, Endrew, a student with autism, and his parents filed a complaint against his resident school district, arguing that the district failed to provide Endrew with a free appropriate public education in violation of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act.

DashBoard, April 5, 2017

In the current fiscal year, the Legislature has allocated $1.5 million for an online algebra tool contract that was awarded to Algebra Nation with the intent of raising poor high school student math scores.

The Michigan Department of Education has finalized its state plan for a more whole-child, well-rounded education for Michigan children and will submit it to the U.S. Department of Education after a review by Gov. Rick Snyder.

The federal government is ramping up efforts to locate, detain and deport illegal immigrants. As a result, school districts need to be prepared for the possibility that various agencies, including local police, may request assistance and cooperation with such efforts.

DashBoard, April 12, 2017

A student was just 16 when she left her home in Vietnam to spend a year in the United States, as part of a sponsored exchange program. She found herself in northern Michigan, living with a host family in Mancelona, where she was also to attend school.

Yes, board of education members are subject to a statute (PA 317 of 1968, M.C.L. 15.321 et seq) that regulates the conduct of public officials and employees with respect to contracts with public entities. Subsection (1) of M.C.L. 15.322 explicitly prohibits a public official or employee from being a party, directly or indirectly, to any contract between himself or herself and a public entity that he or she is an officer or employee. Additionally, Subsection (2) of M.C.L. 15.322 sets forth four scenarios that specifically limit a public official or employee’s ability to solicit a contract for a public entity that he or she is serving. If any one of the four situations applies, the public official or employee cannot represent either party in the contractual transaction, and cannot take part in negotiating or approving the contract in question.

Submitted by Travis Van Tighem, Senior Property/Casualty & Workers' Compensation Sales & Development Specialist, SET SEG School Insurance Specialists

The only thing constant about technology is that it’s always changing. Our world has evolved to work and communicate virtually everything online or through a cloud platform. Storing such large amounts of data online creates a constant threat for confidential information to get into the wrong hands.

VIP Focus articles are company-sponsored advertisements and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of MASB. It’s intended to provide Very Important Partners with a space to share information of value to you and your district.

DashBoard, April 19, 2017

“Leadership matters. . .and it matters more in times of uncertainty than in times of stability.” Don’t those words seem important as we think about our school districts today? The quote is from university professors Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, whose 30 years of research about skillful leadership provides thought-provoking wisdom. As school board members strive to perform at their highest level of productivity and skill, we can learn a lot from what’s being written about what exemplary leaders do!

As a school board member, I believe my responsibilities include having an awareness of what's happening in Lansing and in Washington, D.C. Communicating with our legislators about issues that are important to education can have a positive impact on schools and all students. Our collective voices have been shown to affect change when some of the proposed bills that may have had a negative impact on our ability to educate students didn’t pass.

As you may know, MASB is currently involved in three major legal actions. Following is some recent news on these cases:

As Michigan school board members are forced to do more with less, many of you are looking for reliable options to cut operating costs to direct more resources into educational programming.

VIP Focus articles are company-sponsored advertisements and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of MASB. It’s intended to provide Very Important Partners with a space to share information of value to you and your district.

DashBoard, April 26, 2017

As we’re fully into spring and more districts are looking at employee evaluations, requests for bids and the like, the MASB Legal Team is fielding a number of questions regarding when it is proper to go into closed session to discuss certain matters.

From MDE, Partnership Agreements to set a new course for the state’s lowest-performing schools are being signed this week by local school districts, the State Superintendent, the state School Reform Officer and local partners, announced yesterday by the Michigan Department of Education.

On Tuesday, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees approved their versions of School Aid Budget. No drastic changes were made in either committee.

DashBoard, May 3, 2017

Below is a list of Michigan's 50 largest school districts, based on the state's student counts for fall 2016. Included is a trend line for the past 10 years, and a comparison of each district's enrollment and rank by size has changed since fall 1991—25 years ago.

More than 165 board members and superintendents from around the state came together Tuesday at the Radisson Hotel in Lansing for the annual MASA/MASB Legislative Conference.

Submitted by Bob Kittle, President and Cofounder,

With so many challenges facing school districts, where does one begin when it comes to prioritizing all the important things that need to be done?

VIP Focus articles are company-sponsored advertisements and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of MASB. It’s intended to provide Very Important Partners with a space to share information of value to you and your district.

DashBoard, May 10, 2017

Last week, both the House and Senate passed their respective budgets. The Senate passed its School Aid budget, Senate Bill 149, by a vote of 23-15 and the House passed its education omnibus budget (including School Aid, community colleges and universities), House Bill 4313, by a vote of 60-47. There were no substantive changes made to the versions we've been reporting on for the past few weeks.

The Michigan Court of Appeals recently affirmed a decision of the Michigan Employment Relations Commission that found a union rule that only permits members to resign during a one-month window each year violates the Public Employment Relations Act.

The way to put a safety plan into action is through drills. As we know, the state of Michigan has specific requirements as to the type, quantity and timing of drills throughout the school year. The number of drills required is plentiful and scheduling and planning them can be challenging. However, the purpose of the drills is to practice your plan to ensure the procedures on paper actually work in a real emergency.

DashBoard, May 17, 2017

In 2014, Gov. Rick Snyder signed a set of bills into law that made some significant changes to the Michigan Merit Curriculum. The passage of those bills meets one of MASB’s legislative priorities set by our Board of Directors at the beginning of the 2013-2014 legislative session. The changes were fully implemented for the start of the 2015-2016 school year.

Now that bargaining season is upon us, it is time to start looking at where your district stands financially. It goes without saying that your bargaining team should have a handle on revenue, expense and fund balance projections for the coming school year, but are you paying close attention to your trends?

DashBoard, May 24, 2017

The Trump administration released its proposed Fiscal Year 2018 Education Budget with nearly $5 billion in cuts to eliminate or reduce current programs used by public schools, and $1 billion to promote school choice. Overall, the budget is 13% less than last year.

MASB spoke with State Superintendent Brian Whiston earlier this week about what’s happening at the state level and the presentation he’ll be giving at the Summer Leadership Institute, Aug. 11, 2017, at Mission Point Resort on Mackinac Island.

If you are in the midst of bargaining a new teacher contract, it is important to remember that certain topics that would seem logical to include in a teacher contract are actually prohibited subjects of bargaining under the Public Employment Relations Act (MCL 423.215).

Yesterday, the House and Senate introduced identical bills aimed at closing the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System’s hybrid plan and forcing all new hires into a 401K-style plan. Senate Bill 401 was introduced by Sen. Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair Township) and referred to the Senate Committee on Education, which he chairs. House Bill 4647 was introduced by Rep. Thomas Albert (R-Lowell) and referred to the House Committee on Education Reform.

DashBoard, May 31, 2017

As legislation involving public schools continues to evolve at a rapid pace, trying to process and internalize new rules, mandates and requirements can often leave very little time to revisit and reacquaint ourselves with some very vital and longstanding responsibilities.

On May 23, the House and Senate introduced identical bills, HB 4647 and SB 401, aimed at closing the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System’s hybrid plan and require all new employees as of Oct. 1 into a 401k-style system. Call your legislators and tell them to oppose this expensive and unnecessary plan.

Spring is the most celebratory time of the school year—graduation, spring sport tournaments and recognition ceremonies to name a few, along with the end of the school year for those on traditional schedules.

DashBoard, June 7, 2017

MCL 380.1136 was recently added to the Revised School Code by Public Act 367 of 2016 to address the issue of protecting the privacy of student records. This new law includes multiple requirements that went into effect on March 22. This article will focus on the law’s provisions that create new mandates for school districts relating to the disclosure of directory information.

Extraordinary teaching and learning occurs daily in our nation’s public schools, but you wouldn’t know it based on a chorus of detractors who misunderstand what happens in today’s classrooms, or worse, are engaged in a deliberate effort to undermine public education. We can’t let the future of our public schools be determined by people who want to weaken or pivot away from public education.

On Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Finance approved Senate Bill 384, which would expand the use of sinking funds to include the purchase of buses. MASB fully supports this bill as allowing sinking funds to be used for buses has been a legislative priority for many years.

DashBoard, June 14, 2017

Two Michigan students topped their grade-level competitions in the national 2017 Letters About Literature program. Claire Juip from Grosse Pointe won for Level 1 (grades 4-6) and Maria Cheriyan from Farmington Hills was the top winner in Level 2 (grades 7-8).

The budget approved last week by the School Aid Conference Committee includes a $495 million MPSERS Reform Reserve Fund made up of $200 million in General Funds and $295 million in School Aid Funds. This is set aside to address the first year of costs of closing the hybrid system under Senate Bill 401 and House Bill 4647.

MCL 380.1136 was recently added to the Revised School Code by Public Act 367 of 2016 to address the issue of protecting the privacy of student records. This new law includes multiple requirements that went into effect on March 22. This article will focus on the law’s provisions that include student recordkeeping requirements and disclosure restrictions that are in addition to what is included in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

DashBoard, June 21, 2017

Last week, the full House and Senate passed reforms that will overhaul the MPSERS system by creating an entirely new 401k-style and hybrid plan. In the House, House Bill 4647 passed 55-52, the minimum number needed to pass legislation through the chamber.

On June 6, 2017, the Office of Civil Rights sent its Regional Directors a memorandum that provided new direction with respect to evaluating and investigating transgender student complaints. Specifically, Directors were informed that the prior May 13, 2016 "Dear Colleague" letter, which was viewed by many as being very progressive as it related to transgender rights under Title IX, was to no longer be relied upon.

There are a number of proposed changes to the federal education budget for 2018-2019. One that is raising concerns is the proposed elimination of funds that provide professional development for teachers and administrators, and are also used to reduce class size, set up evaluation systems and more.


Andrew Carnegie once noted, “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” These are true statements for most of what we face in our lives, and are definitely true when it comes to school board service.

The Conference Committee on the Education Omnibus Budget (which includes the School Aid, Community Colleges and Universities budgets) approved its final budget proposal in HB 4313 on Tuesday by a vote of 4-0 with the two Democrats not voting. It was then passed by the full House later that afternoon by a vote of 72-35. The Senate is expected to vote on Thursday. No changes can be made to the conference report on the House and Senate floors, it is a straight yes or no vote.

Submitted By Kristin Flynn, Executive Director of Student Learning Services, Michigan Virtual University

This fall, St. Clair County students will have easier access to an expanded range of online courses through a cooperative effort called LearnON among the county’s seven public school districts, St. Clair County RESA and MVU’s Michigan Virtual School.

VIP Focus articles are company-sponsored advertisements and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of MASB. It’s intended to provide Very Important Partners with a space to share information of value to you and your district.

DashBoard, June 28, 2017

Here are some financial impacts that occur if a district does not have a new contract with a bargaining group before the previous contract expires:

“No backup funds” was the recurring response when superintendents around Michigan were asked how the proposed elimination of federal Title II-A funding would impact their district. Many rely entirely on these funds to provide professional development for teachers and administrators that, in turn, positively impacts student achievement.

On Feb. 24, 2017, President Donald Trump issued Executive Order 13777, “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda,” which called on Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and the rest of his Cabinet to review all regulations and guidance in each departments. The purpose was to determine those that are either burdensome, expensive or inhibit job creation.

DashBoard, July 19, 2017

While many of us who serve on a local school board continue to find the overall experience rewarding and worthwhile, long-standing school board members have probably noticed that it is becoming increasingly harder to entice qualified and dedicated individuals to run for open positions. The time commitment, along with the current political climate, has combined to make serving on a school board feel like an increasingly thankless job.

On Friday, Gov. Rick Snyder signed the School Aid budget, House Bill 4313, into law at the Kent Intermediate School District Career Tech Center. In doing so, Gov. Snyder used his line-item veto authority to strike a total of almost $1.4 million in funding from the $16.6 billion budget.

Vouchers expanding; charters being funded at a higher level than public schools and outside influence in school board elections; school boards becoming partisan and lack of civility/respect for process—these issues and more currently are being faced in Florida, Texas and Minnesota, respectively. A few members of MASB’s Communications team recently had an opportunity to meet with their counterparts from other school board associations around the country for professional development and idea sharing where we learned about these issues and more.

DashBoard, Aug. 2, 2017

With his signature in mid-July, Governor Snyder put to bed the state budget for fiscal year 2018. Eight years removed from the end of the Great Recession and benefitting from an expanding state economy and projected solid revenue growth, this year’s budget process was a pretty typical affair.

Does your instruction really get the most out of your students?

How do you get more Pow! out of your STEM program?

Does your district possess the Courage to Lead?

MASB has crafted the event to get you there and this year’s featured General Session Speakers will answer these questions and more at the Annual Leadership Conference, Nov. 9 – 12, at the Lansing Center.

As we head back to school this fall, MASB would like to remind its members that it is never too early to begin preparing for bargaining season. The fall is the best time to begin the process of compiling data, conducting surveys and having your current contracts professionally reviewed. Below is a checklist of items that should be completed between now and the spring bargaining season. The sooner you get underway, the more relaxed and prepared your bargaining team will be come spring.

The Legislature has passed a few new laws in the last year that will affect school districts. Some have already gone into effect, some will soon. The following is a brief description of what’s new for the upcoming school year.

The MASB Board of Directors has elected officers to lead the Association’s governing body for the 2017-2018 year.

DashBoard, Aug. 16, 2017

With the start of school just around the corner, districts are moving full speed ahead to be ready when students and staff return for the fall. Here are a few items that districts should double-check are on their to-do lists before the school year starts. This is not an exhaustive list, but it includes items that may be either new or easily overlooked.

This past weekend many members made the choice to spend their time on beautiful Mackinac Island, where they attended MASB’s first Summer Leadership Institute, networked with nearly 200 registered attendees and hopefully indulged shamelessly in mouthwatering fudge.

The end of summer is right around the corner, and with that comes the start of school for those on traditional schedules, and the return of the Legislature to their normal session schedule. We know this can be a busy time of year, but it’s important to remain ever vigilant and engaged with what’s happening in Lansing. An easy way to stay engaged and updated is by signing up to be a MASB e-Vocate, if you are not already.

In the wake of the incidents this past weekend in Charlottesville, Va., Gov. Rick Snyder and State Superintendent Brian Whiston issued the following statements:

"History has shown time and again that hate begets hate and violence begets violence. On the other hand, unity and cooperation have shown how much we can accomplish when we respect our neighbors, embrace our differences and focus our energy on how we can all move forward and prosper together. Hate speech and violence are not welcome in Michigan—it’s not representative of who Michiganders truly are or of the future we want to build for our children." —Gov. Snyder

“Our children watch and learn from us all. I’d rather our children learn the love and respect for others that Governor Snyder’s statement calls for, rather than the hate and violence displayed this past weekend.” —State Superintendent Whiston

Submitted by Matt Frost, Business Development Director, Communications, Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.

Nearly half of employers report annual turnover of 10% or greater.1 In this competitive job market, how can organizations attract, engage—and keep — the right talent?

Attracting talent is a bit like attracting a new partner. The search and selection process can take a lot of hard work, and, as with any relationship, communication is key.

VIP Focus articles are company-sponsored advertisements and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of MASB. It’s intended to provide Very Important Partners with a space to share information of value to you and your district.

DashBoard, Aug. 30, 2017

Students are gradually improving their scores in mathematics and social studies based on the latest Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress results that were released yesterday by the Michigan Department of Education. But there was also disappointment in the English language arts scores, which declined in all except for one of the grades tested.

New laws regarding the emergency use of seclusion and restraint (MCL 380.1307 – 1307h) took effect on Aug. 1 of this year with the intent of restricting the use of seclusion and physical restraint in Michigan schools.

Earlier this month, MASB partnered with the Michigan Association of School Administrators and Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators to send a letter to Michigan's federal congresspersons and senators urging them to support a full, clean extension of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program for five years at current funding levels. The text of the letter, coordinated by Wayne RESA, can be read below:

In the last 10+ years, a new way of communicating has inundated our lives. Social media platforms allow us to create content and interact with each other digitally on a second-to-second basis. So how does this carryover into your role as a board member?

DashBoard, Sept. 6, 2017

You’re in a tough spot—a reporter has called you out of the blue with questions on an issue you’re either not up to speed on or don’t want to talk about—what do you do?

The Legislature returns to its normal schedule this week after a fairly quiet summer recess. MASB has a complete list of bills that we are monitoring, but there are a few we are hoping will see action sooner rather than later.

If you have been to a Secretary of State office, farmer’s market or sporting event recently, you likely have been approached by someone asking for your signature for a petition. From the perspective of signature gatherers, school events could be a great opportunity to gather support for their initiative. How should school districts respond if someone would like to gather signatures on school property?

The 24th annual Education Excellence Awards granted $25,000 to public school programs designed to improve student achievement and encourage innovation. A group of 10 winners was selected by a panel of judges with each district receiving a check for $2,500, an “Education Excellence Winner” road sign and a trophy.

Learn more about the winning programs for 2017, which incorporated a wide range of themes including STEM, reading, wellness and anti-bullying. These programs create opportunities for public school students, teach valuable skills, encourage civic responsibility and ultimately have a positive impact on students’ lives.

Congratulations again to this year's winners!

DashBoard, Sept. 13, 2017

Thanks to the hard work of educators and families, we as a nation have made real improvements in student achievement in recent years. Performance on the Long-Term Trends National Assessment of Educational Progress is on the rise, as are high school graduation rates.

MASB’s Delegate Assembly is your opportunity to voice your board’s opinion on state issues and the Association’s direction. It’s one important way you can be involved and influence where your Association is headed. The 2017 Delegate Assembly will begin Thursday, Nov. 9, at 7:30 p.m. at the Lansing Center, the night before the Annual Leadership Conference begins.

Changes to the public education landscape are occurring at an extremely fast pace. Constant changes in federal law, state law, court precedent, regulations and so forth can be overwhelming. Moreover, even though an individual board member’s access to information has never been greater, the sheer volume of that information can make it nearly impossible to have an actual, real-world understanding of the various implications and impacts these changes might bring with them.

MASB Executive Director Don Wotruba presented the Board of Education Governance Standards to the State Board of Education and State Superintendent yesterday in advance of them being released next week. They were endorsed by a 5-0 vote with two abstentions and one SBE member absent.

DashBoard, Sept. 20, 2017

According to MASB’s recent member survey, advocacy was heavily mentioned in terms of the value members have for MASB’s legislative efforts, member awareness and engagement in legislation that affects their district, and as a way to address ongoing school funding issues and other top priorities.

The Michigan Association of School Boards is hoping to bring some civility back to public office through its newly released Board of Education Governance Standards. The Standards were developed by school board members for school board members to provide a shared framework for effective school district governance and to enhance student achievement.

Patriotic ceremonies and refusals to participate in them have been frequently in the news over the past year or so. How should school officials respond if students protest in their districts?

Submitted by Paul Wills, Partner, Plante Moran

Your school district relies heavily on student enrollment for funding, future academic offerings and logistical decisions. Accordingly, a reliable estimate of the future enrollment in your district is essential to making the most informed operational and facility-related decisions. This valuable information is generated by pupil enrollment projections.

VIP Focus articles are company-sponsored advertisements and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of MASB. It’s intended to provide Very Important Partners with a space to share information of value to you and your district.

DashBoard, Sept. 27, 2017

Why is the most important role of the school board the one that so often gets lost within the routine of monthly meetings? The obvious roles of school board members, such as employing the superintendent and overseeing the fiscal health of the district, are highly visible and tend to get a lot of focus. And yet we know the most important role of school boards, establishing a shared vision for the district, rarely makes an appearance on the agenda.

The spirit of our current freedom of information law appears aimed at encouraging public entities to not charge at all when fulfilling a Freedom of Information Act request. According to the statute, “A fee… shall not be charged for the cost of search, examination, review, and the deletion and separation of exempt from nonexempt… unless failure to charge a fee would result in unreasonably high costs to the public body because of the nature of the request in the particular instance, and the public body specifically identifies the nature of these unreasonably high costs.” Hence, if complying with a FOIA request will result in an “unreasonably high cost” to your district, you should charge for it. Otherwise, there should be no charge for simple FOIA requests that would result in only nominal costs.

Do you have a good handle on the demographics of your district, i.e., who makes up your community? Knowing your audiences is key to effective communication and should be a topic discussed at the board table when determining how to share or collect information.

Last week, the Senate Education Committee approved Senate Bills 544-549, which would create the "Enhanced Michigan Education Savings Program." The program would allow parents to set up an educational savings account, similar to the MESP accounts, to be used for any educational expenses at public schools. The bills also create an income tax deduction for anyone who contributes to an enhanced MESP.

DashBoard, Oct. 4, 2017

House Bill 4313 was signed into law on July 14, 2017. One of its many repercussions was that it created a new Section (164h) within the State School Aid Act. This provision contains a 5% state aid penalty that may be levied against districts for entering into a collective bargaining agreement that:

Some years ago, a scholarly article was written that referenced the disappearing superintendent applicant. The authors predicted that—because the superintendency was becoming less and less desirable for a variety of reasons—fewer people would choose to apply for the position in the years to come. In the nearly two decades that have passed, time has proven half of the predication to be true and the other half to be, well, complicated.

If you’ve been hesitant to register for the 2017 Annual Leadership Conference because you’re concerned about where you’ll be able to lay your head and rest after a full day of learning and networking because the conference hotel is sold out, fear not as MASB has secured several additional hotel properties to accommodate member needs.

DashBoard, Oct. 11, 2017

The 2017 Delegate Assembly Handbook, your guide to everything that will happen at this year's meeting, is now available for download.

Access the Handbook here and take time to discuss with your board how you intend to vote on the proposed amendments.

In MASB's continued efforts to be green, hard copies of the handbooks will not be mailed so please download and review the document prior to the meeting on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, at the Lansing Center during the 2017 MASB Annual Leadership Conference.

If you have any questions, contact MASB staff at 517.327.5900 or

After going to print on the Fall 2017 LeaderBoard magazine, which noted Michigan ranked 31 in Wallethub’s 2016 Best States for Teachers report, the 2017 results were released and showed our state making a drastic leap to number 12.

The 2017 edition of the Michigan Council of School Attorneys Fall Conference includes two preconference sessions (morning and afternoon) for MASB's Annual Leadership Conference that focus on the legal issues currently confronting school officials.

Most, if not all, school districts in Michigan maintain websites to communicate with their parents, students and communities. Districts are free to post a variety of materials on their websites, but they are also required by state statute to post a great deal of information. A list of major requirements that districts should be aware of as they maintain their websites can be found below. This is by no means an exhaustive list of all website requirements for school districts. There are, no doubt, requirements based on local district policy and/or administrative rules that are not reflected here.

DashBoard, Oct. 18, 2017

Jeanice Kerr Swift, Ph.D., Superintendent of Ann Arbor Public Schools was recognized earlier this week as the 2018 Michigan Superintendent of the Year by the Michigan Association of School Administrators. MASB spoke with AAPS Board of Education President Christine Stead about what Swift and this recognition has done for the district.

In less than a month, school board members from almost every district in the state will be gathering to represent their district at the Delegate Assembly, which establishes policy and rules for the Association through resolutions and bylaws. These are used to provide direction to MASB, its officers and committees throughout the year. The annual Delegate Assembly takes place on Thursday evening prior to the official start of MASB’s Annual Leadership Conference.

If your district is struggling at the bargaining table with a perceived lack of trust and honesty between the parties, it may be time to initiate a different approach to the process. Interest-based bargaining is a collaborative-based strategy, led by a facilitator, which is designed to bring both sides together as a single “team” in order to build rapport and solve issues.

Submitted by Molly Mellema, Associate Administrator of the MASB-SEG Property/Casualty Pool and SEG Self-Insurer Workers’ Compensation Fund

In October 2016, the Eastern Upper Peninsula Intermediate School District became aware that a data system that houses Personally Identifiable Information was actively under attack. The district immediately responded to the incident and the IT team shut down access to the district’s network, effectively ensuring the attackers no longer had access to the data and mitigating the threat. Damage assessment quickly ensued and EUP ISD Superintendent Dan Reattoir, Ed.D. was notified of the situation. Dan immediately contacted the district’s insurance carrier, SET SEG, for assistance in working with his IT team to investigate and respond to the incident.

VIP Focus articles are company-sponsored advertisements and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of MASB. It’s intended to provide Very Important Partners with a space to share information of value to you and your district.

DashBoard, Oct. 25, 2017

The MASB Annual Leadership Conference offers more than content-rich Preconference Sessions, General Session speakers, clinic sessions and Board Member Certification (CBA) classes. In addition to the extensive education opportunities and idea sharing, picking up best practices and experiences with peers from around the state, dozens of companies gather in one place to showcase the very best in school products and services. Whether you’re building a new school, adding new technology, or outsourcing transportation or food services now or in the future, this is the place to be.

Last week, House Bills 5139-5142 and 5145 were introduced, which would outline education requirements for schools to implement for their career and technological education curriculum. Advocates for this legislation hope that it will help reduce the skills gap that they believe is widening between Michigan’s population and its employment needs. The legislation would create educational plans to ensure Michigan students have access to CTE programs in career fields most in need of positions to be filled.

In the past few weeks, we have had a number of questions in the office about record retention. Generally, school districts have an obligation to keep all sorts of records―sometimes forever! Below are some basics that school employees, in particular, should know.

DashBoard, Nov. 1, 2017

State Superintendent Brian Whiston and the Michigan Department of Education will be entering into discussions with seven new school districts to develop Partnership Agreements with the goal of improving achievement levels at these struggling schools in Michigan.

Nothing seems to confuse school boards, or confound superintendents, quite like the Open Meetings Act. MASB’s Legal Department continues to field many calls regarding OMA compliance, especially from community members who are often attempting to report what they believe to be an OMA violation by their local school board. (Community members often hold the mistaken belief that MASB is an enforcement agency.)

Michigan is dead last in the nation when it comes to educating African-American students—that according to a new study. The 2017 Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children from the Annie E. Casey Foundation is the latest national study to paint a dismal picture of public education in Michigan.

Recently, President Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans proposed a new tax scheme that includes eliminating the state and local tax deductions on federal income taxes. Many believe that eliminating this deduction will have two significant negative effects. The first is the impact it will have on state and local government funding of public services. The second is the double taxation on taxpayers.

DashBoard, Nov. 8, 2017

Last week’s article on the Annie E. Casey Foundation report, 2017 Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children, may have felt like another punch in the gut. One more strike against our state in how we’re caring for and educating our children. That reality continues to be a hard pill to swallow when compared against all of the positive stories we hear about what is happening in our public school districts and the efforts being made by those in education-related fields.

The Revised School Code permits a local or intermediate school board to pay only “actual and necessary” expenses incurred by a board member in discharging his or her “official duties” or in performing “functions authorized by the board.” A board member who incurs an “actual and necessary” expense cannot be reimbursed unless one or both of the following procedures are followed.

On Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Government Operations held a hearing on Senate Bills 584-586. SB 584 would allow an individual with a Concealed Pistol License to request a special endorsement allowing them to carry a concealed firearm into no-carry zones, such as schools, day care centers, bars and stadiums. In order to receive the endorsement, an individual would need an additional eight hours of training and fire an additional 94 rounds. SB 585 amends the sentencing guidelines to reflect this change.

We're just one day away from kicking off MASB's 2017 Annual Leadership Conference at the Lansing Center! If you haven't made your plans to join us, there's still time. Register in person starting today at 5 p.m. and tomorrow at 7 a.m. Full details about the conference can be accessed here and you can contact MASB staff at 517.483.7436.

If you're already planning to attend, we can't wait to see you! Take a look at our Know Before You Go information for some important updates and tips to make the most of your conference experience.

DashBoard, Nov. 15, 2017

From clinic sessions to Board Member Certification (CBA) classes to General Session speakers and Preconference Sessions, there was a lot of information to take in over the course of the 2017 MASB Annual Leadership Conference, Nov. 9 – 12, at the Lansing Center. And there were a lot of people to do it.

It was another big turnout for the Delegate Assembly held Thursday, Nov. 9, before MASB’s Annual Leadership Conference at the Lansing Center. Voting delegates from more than 155 districts in 50 counties attended along with many other nonvoting members. Executive Director Don Wotruba welcomed the attendees and gave a summary of this past year’s accomplishments and where the organization is looking to go in the future.

The MASB Legal Trust Fund was established in 1975 to assist Michigan school boards involved in litigation having statewide significance. The Legal Trust Fund grants assistance both in the way of financial support and amicus curie (friend of the court) briefs to help school districts at all levels of litigation, from the State Tenure Commission up to the Supreme Court. With help of the Legal Trust Fund, boards of education can pursue cases they might otherwise have to settle because of the high costs of litigation. More importantly, every school board benefits when definitive answers are provided by the courts on complex legal questions affecting education in our state.

The MASB team is at it again to ensure we're offering a diverse lineup of member tools to stay in-the-know on the current state of education, not only in Michigan but nationwide!

Last week, we introduced MI SoundBoard, a twice-a-month podcast where we sit down and talk with education professionals on what's happening that we think you should know.

First up, Michigan State Superintendent of Public Instruction Brian Whiston joins MASB Executive Director Don Wotruba to discuss an alternative to elected school board members and what that could look like.

So subscribe, listen and share!

ITunes version Ι Google Play version

DashBoard, Nov. 22, 2017

As school board members, both veteran and new, you are preparing to deal with some of the more complex and nuanced issues you’ll be facing at the board table in 2018. One way to get a "leg up" is through MASB's Board Member Certification (CBA) classes. A few learning opportunities remain before the end of the calendar year in both the Lower and Upper Peninsulas.

A school board is not required to expel a student for possessing a weapon if the student establishes in a clear and convincing manner at least one of the following:

  • The object or instrument possessed by the student was not possessed for use as a weapon, or for direct or indirect delivery to another person for use as a weapon.
  • The weapon was not knowingly possessed by the student.
  • The student did not know or have reason to know that the object or instrument constituted a dangerous weapon.
  • The weapon was possessed by the student at the suggestion, request or direction of, or with the express permission of, school or police authorities.

On Nov. 8, the Senate passed Senate Bills 584-586, which will allow individuals who obtain a special endorsement with his or her concealed pistol license to carry concealed weapons within schools, day care centers, bars, arenas, churches and libraries.

This is your opportunity to join your Association's governance board! Seven seats on the MASB Board of Directors are up for election with terms starting next year.

At the 2017 Delegate Assembly earlier this month, the membership approved a change to the qualifications for those eligible to serve on the MASB Board of Directors making it easier to run. In order to be eligible, you must have served as a qualified trustee of an Active or Academy member board of education for at least two years and have completed the Fundamentals of School Board Service course (CBA 101) at the time of nomination.

Nomination forms are due by Jan. 10, 2018.

DashBoard, Nov. 29, 2017

On Thursday, the House Committee on Oversight is scheduled to take testimony on House Bills 5162 and 5163. The legislation would get rid of the Department of Health and Human Services’ rule requiring parents to travel to their local health departments to receive education on vaccines before receiving a waiver from having their child vaccinated. It would also prevent DHHS from promulgating any rules regarding vaccinations that are not strictly required by law.

Recently, a question was posed regarding whether or not a district could “sign off” on their superintendent’s self-evaluation; that is, can a school board simply adopt the findings and rating the superintendent gave himself/herself and treat those findings as the annual evaluation as required by Section 1249 of the Revised School Code? Quite honestly, the question probably should not center on whether a district can take such action, but whether they should.

As MASB reported on earlier this month, Congressional Republicans are poised to move ahead with a tax reform proposal that includes, among other major changes, the elimination of state and local tax deductions on federal income taxes. This would have a trickle-down negative impact on public education, and has resulted in a call to action from the National School Boards Association as Congress returns from its Thanksgiving recess this week.

DashBoard, Dec. 6, 2017

It is heartwarming to read a story, hear about or witness people doing their part to make our world a better place. This is a trait that is inherent to most teachers.

Microscope Mondays in a Calumet math class. A Chesaning reading consultant who is getting her commercial driver's license in order to drive a bus of reading materials around the community to spur early childhood literacy. Partnering with faith-based organizations in Alpena to provide weekend and summer meals to children in need.

We seem to be mired in a culture where unsubstantiated claims and untruths are spewed out and attempted to be passed off as facts. No one is better served by that, not even the hucksters who try to peddle those tarnished and rusted wares.

Michigan voters have a fundamental right reserved by the State Constitution, Article II, Section 8, to recall “elective” public officials from office. The recall process applies to all public officers elected by the people, aside from judges.

DashBoard, Dec. 13, 2017

While Congress has been busy attempting to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and passing tax cuts that could negatively impact schools across the country, it has also failed to reauthorize funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Without CHIP, thousands of Michigan children could lose access to health care and numerous other services as soon as April 2018, putting them at risk of missing more days of school and falling behind due to unmet health care needs.

Is there a legal responsibility for school officials to control cyberbullying that occurs off school grounds and outside of the school day? Yes, for multiple reasons.

One aspect of effective governance is looking ahead to where you want your district or organization to be and determining, after doing your research and reviewing the data, the best way to get there. Once you’re there (or close enough), you look back and evaluate what went well and what didn’t before starting the process over again. Data-driven strategic planning is not only a service MASB offers to its member districts, but also a process the MASB Board of Directors regularly goes through to determine the Association’s focus.

DashBoard, Dec. 20, 2017

For districts with labor contracts expiring this summer, now is the time to begin preparing for your labor group negotiations. Although Public Act 102 eliminated some additional bargaining topics from the table, this does not mean that the negotiation process has become easier. Indeed, with many Michigan districts still dealing with declining enrollment and decreasing revenues, it is often more difficult than ever to reach an agreement that is fiscally responsible for your district, while also satisfying the labor groups.

The House recently passed House Bills 5139-5142 and 5145, which are intended to expand and clarify career and technical education opportunities at schools across the state. During committee earlier in the week and during debate on the floor, multiple changes were made to the package. Two of the most significant changes are in HB 5140, which requires districts to maintain a list of student data to be provided to other entities for recruitment purposes, and HB 5141, which allows districts to hire noncertified teachers to teach CTE programs.

Conversations about personal branding, interviewing skills, networking and dining etiquette are just a sampling of what’s discussed on a monthly basis between students involved in the Detroit Economic Club’s Career Readiness Academy and their mentors.