This Week & Next (June 10, 2016)

Senate Passes DPS Reform Bills; Governor Pledges to Sign
On Wednesday evening the State Senate passed a $617 million package of bills to address the financial and academic crisis in Detroit Public Schools (DPS). The primary policy bill in the package is HB 5384 (Garcia), which passed on a 19-18 vote, and the “YES” votes came from the following Republican Senators: Booher, Brandenburg, Green, Hildenbrand, Horn, Hune, Jones, Knollenberg, Kowall, MacGregor, Marleau, Meekhof, Nofs, O’Brien, Proos, Robertson, Shirkey, Stamas and Zorn. Other bills in the package include HB 5383, 5387 and SB 711, 820 & 822. Here are the key features in the Senate-passed bills:

  • Retire DPS and provide $467 million to pay off the district’s operational debt (which is $515 million but $48 million was previously allocated to the district by the legislature).
  • Provide $150 million to the “new” Detroit Community Schools district (DPS 2.0) to be used to cover cash flow and building maintenance until the district begins receiving school aid funds in October.
  • Use $72 million per year in Tobacco Settlement funds to fill the hole in the School Aid Fund from using 18-mill non-homestead property tax revenue to repay DPS debt.
  • Return the new district to locally elected leadership after the November 2016 election.
  • Eliminate the Education Achievement Authority.
  • Create a Citizens Advisory Board of DPS and Charter members, tasked with producing a detailed annual report on educational needs in the city, including school locations and transportation issues.
  • Implement an A-F accountability system and require the State Reform Office to intervene in failing schools, including closure of chronically-failing DPS and charter public schools.
  • Provide SRO flexibility to allow for “Restart” model for DPS schools or “Reconstitution” of charter public schools in place of closure, which requires significant interventions.
  • Require national accreditation for charter authorizers who open schools in the city.
  • Ensure current DPS employees will retain their positions in the new district.
  • Allow the district to employ non-certified teachers to fill vacancies.
  • Develop a system of performance pay to reward excellent teachers.
  • Increase penalties for teachers engaging in illegal “sick out” strikes.

We owe a debt of gratitude to Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-Mt. Olive) and Governor Rick Snyder, who met personally with the Senate Republican Caucus on Wednesday evening to discuss the bills. In the end, these bills put students first and ensure that innovation and educational opportunities will be available to Detroit students well in the future. The House of Representatives then voted 55-43 in the early hours of session on Thursday to concur in two technical amendments made to the bills by the Senate. All 6 bills have been presented to Governor Snyder, who is expected to sign them soon.

ESSA is hot topic at House Ed; MDE forms Action Teams
This week the House Education Committee heard presentations on ESSA, the new federal education law, and about it’s implementation in Michigan. You can download the NCLS presentation and MDE presentation to learn more. The MDE has also formed External Stakeholder Advisory Group and 8 different stakeholders “Action Teams” to take a deeper dive into different policy areas of implementing ESSA. The primary focus is on modifying the student assessment program in the state as well as developing a new statewide A-F accountability system to replace the current “Rainbow Report Card” used by MDE. The goal is to conduct less testing but produce better data that can be used for both accountability and to improve teaching and learning in the classroom. GLEP will be participating in both the External Stakeholder Advisory Group and on appropriate action teams, which are expected to meet weekly through the summer and fall. Stay tuned for more details.

FY ’17 School Aid Budget heads to Governor for his signature
The $14.2 billion FY ’17 School Aid Budget has cleared its’ final legislative hurdle and has been presented to the Governor for his signature. The conference committee report for the omnibus education budget was passed in the Senate on Wednesday evening on a 20-17 vote in the House by a 74-34 vote. Rep. Tim Kelly (R-Saginaw Twp), Chair of the House K-12 Appropriations Subcommittee, commented that for the sixth year in a row, the spending plan for schools was completed prior to the beginning of the school fiscal year on July 1. Rep. Al Pscholka (R-Stevensville), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, challenged the media to “put the real numbers” on school funding in print. Schools can expect a foundation grant increase of $60-$120 per pupil for the next school year. NOTE: The FY 2011 budget put $13.3 billion into K-12 education and the FY 2017 budget is set to put $14.2 billion into K-12 education, a 6.8 percent increase. The Governor is expected to sign the budget bills very soon.

Education Reform News Clips

Next Week

Monday, June 13 – Friday June 17 [Legislature on summer recess until September]

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Gary G. Naeyaert
Executive Director