Legislative Priorities

The MASB Board of Directors approved the following priorities for the 2015-2016 legislative session. These priorities will guide the work of the Government Relations staff. If you have any questions about the priorities, please contact Jennifer Smith, 517.327.5912.

  • Support mandatory training for all school board members, including public school academies.
    • Research shows that board members who have the fundamental skills and knowledge needed to make effective decisions at the board table are more able to successfully support student achievement and financial stability in their districts.
  • Support a high-quality teacher and administrator evaluation law.
    • In 2014, steps were taken to create a quality teacher and administrator evaluation law. Unfortunately, it was not finished before the end of session. Work on this should continue with a system created that is efficient, effective and fair, as well as able to be tailored to an individual district’s needs.
  • Expand the use of sinking funds.
    • Sinking funds can be a less costly alternative to bonding when purchasing buses, technology or upgrading school security.
  • Support further cost containment in retirement and health care for districts.
    • With 85-90 percent of a school district’s costs attributable to personnel, and with no way to raise money locally, we must find ways to operate in the most cost-effective way while maintaining an environment that is attractive for recent college graduates.
  • Create state financial support for facilities and infrastructure, including technology.
    • Michigan has a multi-billion-dollar school construction need with a state school bond system that is near the bottom in the country in actual monetary assistance to school districts. Coupled with property values that vary so much across the state, we have an infrastructure system that will not meet the needs of Michigan’s future students. Technology demands for districts are also increasing at a rate that can’t be supported simply through expending funds from the per-pupil grant. The state needs to look at financial support for facilities and technology.
  • Support legislation to end unfunded mandates and determine actual costs of legislation.
    • Over the years, local governments, including school districts, have been given more and more to do or abide by without funding to help make it happen. Legislation has been proposed in past sessions to support a fiscal note with every piece of legislation to determine its actual cost to local governments and schools. The Legislature should revisit these bills and take action to adopt standards that will create an environment of trust between local units of government and the State Legislature.
  • Support funding for third grade reading intervention tools rather than retention only.
    • Research shows that retention of third graders for reading proficiency does more harm to their long-term school careers than good. Intervention tools for K-3 should be fully supported to help make sure all of our kids are reading at grade level rather than simply retaining them.
  • Universal preschool for all 4 year olds.
    • Reaching children at a younger age increases a child’s achievement levels and reduces future remedial costs for school districts. Michigan currently does not fund slots for every 4-year-old child to participate in a preschool program nor does it completely fund slots for neediest children in the state. Funding should increase to give universal access to all 4 year olds.
  • Support legislation that will put public school academies and management companies on equal footing with traditional public schools on issues related to transparency, reporting and treatment of employees.
    • Billions of dollars each year are spent for public education in Michigan. Whether that money is sent to a traditional public school, a charter school or a cyber-school, the public should be able to see how those dollars are spent. No school, including traditional public schools, should be able to hire a management company that does not provide transparency regarding expenditures of public funds that are fundamental to the operations of a school district.
  • Protect the School Aid Fund and local revenues from state tax policy changes.
    • As changes to state tax policy are considered, it needs to be acknowledged how those changes affect those public entities that receive the revenue. The School Aid Fund and local revenues need to be protected from all negative tax revenue changes made at the state level.
  • Support a review of Proposal A with an adequacy study for school funding.
    • We have reached a time in education where there are many choices on how to receive it. We also know that education is provided for students from Pre-K to high school, and each child comes to school at a different level of preparedness. Each variation comes with a different expenditure, yet we provide revenue at a fixed amount. We must examine the costs of delivering education and adjust our school funding system accordingly. As well, we must examine the distribution system.
  • Study the impact of moving the 18 mils to a statewide collection.
    • The state requires and expects every district to levy 18 mils on all nonhomestead property as part of their per-pupil foundation grant. Districts regularly bring the question of renewal of the 18 mils to voters, sometimes annually, at substantial cost to the district and voters, even though they almost always pass. It’s time to examine the impact of moving the 18-mil collection to the state, saving taxpayers money on election costs and possibly generating more revenue for schools at the beginning of the school year.