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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.