DashBoard, Jan. 13, 2021

The U.S. Department of Labor announced the Families First Coronavirus Response Act leave was not extended and expired on Dec. 31, 2020. As of Jan. 1, 2021, employers may voluntarily decide to provide FFCRA leave but are not required to do so under law.

While the ongoing pandemic may have made for a slightly slower end to the 2019-2020 legislative session, many laws were still passed in the final weeks. The following list contains school-related public acts since the beginning of the state’s fiscal year on Oct. 1, 2020. 

Today, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon announced a new pandemic order to replace the one that expires on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. The new order lasts until Jan. 31, 2021. MDHHS will continue to use three key metrics to determine if more restrictions can be lifted sooner.

Last week was a busy one with school-related announcements around COVID-19 vaccines, rapid antigen test kit availability and face-to-face learning recommendations from the Governor’s Office and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

DashBoard, Jan. 27, 2021

MASB’s Government Relations Team held eight regional and two statewide meetings remotely in September, October and November 2020 across the state to gather input from board members and superintendents on what your Association’s focus should be for the 2021-2022 legislative session.

ISD school boards that hold elections under Section 614 of the Revised School Code conduct their elections biennially on the first Monday in June at a meeting of representatives from constituent boards of education. In 2021, the elections will be held on June 7, 2021.

MASB is currently governed by a 21-member Board of Directors made up of two directors from each of the eight Regions, one director each from Groups V, VI and VII, and two appointed directors.

DashBoard, Feb. 10, 2021

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently announced a new College Cash Campaign to boost Free Application for Federal Student Aid completion rates and help ensure that eligible students know the resources that are available to them.

Ever wonder why some school boards can be really effective while others are not? Research compiled by the Center for Public Education indicates that there are eight common characteristics for effective school boards, i.e., boards that positively impact their district’s student achievement.

As a new school board member, it is easy to feel overwhelmed, especially when it comes to understanding and processing the various regulations, laws and rules schools are subject to. While you are not expected to be experts in everything, acquiring a basic understanding of the broader legal landscape is recommended. Naturally, over time, your knowledgebase and comfort level will grow and fortunately, the MASB Legal Department is only a phone call or email away! As a brief primer, following are descriptions of four of the more important laws that school boards must be cognizant of.

DashBoard, Feb. 24, 2021

For the last 28 years, the SET SEG Foundation and MASB have partnered to give Education Excellence Awards to programs that show leadership in public education and a positive impact on the lives of students. The 10 recipients being recognized in 2021 were recently announced.

At a minimum, reviewing your district contract thoroughly for provisions that are problems for managers, provisions that may create problems, or need to be modified or removed because of changes in the law is a best practice in preparing for negotiation.

On Feb. 11, 2021, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Fiscal Year 2022 Executive Budget Recommendation was presented to the Legislature. This is the official kick-off of budget season. Now the Legislature will begin committee hearings on the budget and surrounding issues as each chamber pieces together its budget proposal.

DashBoard, March 10, 2021

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to agree to changes made by the U.S. Senate to the American Rescue Plan, the latest COVID-19 relief package. If agreed upon, the legislation will go to President Joe Biden for his expected signature. The Senate passed the bill on a party-line vote 50-49 on Saturday. The American Rescue Plan includes $1.9 trillion in total federal funding. 

As reported last week, the Michigan House and Senate sent House Bill 4048, the School Aid Budget supplemental, to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Yesterday, she signed the bill into law as Public Act 3 of 2021 with a couple of important vetoes. The total budget appropriates all of the federal ESSER and GEER dollars that were allocated to Michigan and includes $170.2 million additional in School Aid Fund dollars.

School districts save energy and money by using more energy-efficient equipment. There are also additional benefits on the overall revenue and environment of the school. By simply upgrading to LED lighting and energy-efficient HVAC systems, your school districts could see the following benefits:

DashBoard, March 24, 2021

With so many state and federal policy and budget issues happening during this time, your firsthand experience and continued input can be so valuable in the legislative realm. Being able to build and maintain positive relationships with policymakers and express your concerns and district needs is a powerful advocacy tool.

Last week in a 5-0 vote, the Michigan Supreme Court declined to rehear The Council of Organizations and Others for Education About Parochiaid v. State of Michigan. This case was brought by a coalition of education organizations, including MASB and other advocacy groups. The coalition filed a lawsuit to prevent nonpublic schools from being reimbursed for certain expenses from the School Aid Fund. These funds were first appropriated under the Snyder administration in 2016.

On Thursday, the Senate Republicans introduced a nine-bill package dealing with assessments, evaluations and reporting for schools. Senate Bills 260-268 are all tie-barred together along with Senate Bills 56 and 57, which make changes to the teacher evaluation law.

The following FAQs cover issues relating to holding an in-person or virtual public meeting under the Open Meetings Act and the March 19, 2021 Emergency Order on Gatherings and Face Masks issued by the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services.

More than 340 schools statewide were awarded the Building Healthy Communities program, a public-private school-based initiative, established by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan in 2009 that supports children’s health by providing teachers, administrators and students the resources, curriculum, equipment and professional development to create healthier school environments, prevent childhood obesity, improve academic achievement, and address mental health and well-being. It is expected that the BHC program this school year will serve more than 158,000 students in Michigan.

DashBoard, June 2, 2021

Last Thursday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer laid out her priorities for schools for the upcoming fiscal year and for use of the federal American Recovery Plan funding. This was in response to the large surplus the Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference projected the week before. Her announcement only covered school aid funding. She is planning to make other announcements in upcoming days on other spending priorities.

Does a graduation ceremony have to be posted as a “meeting” if all school board members attend it together?

On May 26, 2021, the Senate Education and Career Readiness Committee considered a bill to suspend the retention portion of the third grade reading law for this year. MASB supported the bill, Senate Bill 265, as it was introduced to allow students to continue to receive supports for reading but advance with their peers to the fourth grade. Retention this year would penalize students who, through no fault of their own, may not have received the same level of supports due to the pandemic.