Legislative Priorities

The MASB Board of Directors approved the following priorities for the 2017-2018 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 able to more successfully support student achievement and financial stability in their districts.
  • Support a review of Proposal A and programs and initiatives to create equity in education for all students, including a funding system based solely on the needs of students and districts.
    • We have reached a time in education where there are many choices on how to receive it. We also know that each student comes to school with 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, while also ensuring that it is done equitably and not based on where a student lives. The Michigan Education Finance Study is an important first step in this process and the Legislature should consider its recommendations.
  • 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 the 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 legislation to end unfunded mandates and determine actual costs of legislation, especially for the new third grade reading proficiency law.
    • 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.
  • Maintain local control over setting the school calendar, including start date.
    • Local districts should be able to set their own calendar and determine the best fit for their community while providing at least the minimum number of days required by the state. This includes removing the state ban on starting school before Labor Day.
       
  • Support a state assessment that measures growth, gives timely and useful results to districts and teachers and remains consistent for years.
    • Students and teachers deserve an assessment system that gives meaningful results to help guide a student’s learning. The testing windows should be reasonable and the results timely. Finally, the assessment needs to be consistent for years to allow for measurable growth for students and teachers.
       
  • Specify that the School Aid Fund is only for PreK to 12th grade public education in Michigan’s Constitution.
    • Throughout the last several years we’ve seen School Aid Fund dollars redirected to higher education and community colleges resulting in more than $400 million not available for our public schools each year. Recently, funds were also extended to private schools. We must protect the integrity of the School Aid Fund by making sure it is only used for public PreK to 12th grade public education.
       
  • Support for health services in schools, including mental health, through the Department of Health & Human Services, Department of Community Health, or community- or foundation-based services.
    • Districts with some level of health-based services have shown improvement in graduation rates and attendance. Existing programs should be expanded so that all districts have access to health services in schools through partnerships with other state departments and organizations.
       
  • 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. Also support reinstating a cap on charters and cyber schools.
    • Billions of dollars each year are spent on 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. Finally, as we’ve seen the expansion of charter schools and cyber schools in Michigan without a meaningful increase in student achievement, a cap on the opening of new charter or cyber schools should be reinstated to make sure that all schools are operating with more stable student populations and raising achievement.
       
  • Create a separate per-pupil allowance for cyber schools.
    • Cyber schools do not have many of the same costs that traditional public schools or even public school academies have, including transportation, brick and mortar buildings and the upkeep of those buildings. Therefore, the per-pupil allowance should be adjusted to reflect the lack of those costs.