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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.