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"Work Product" - News from MIPFS

Cyber school expansion bill heads to House floor

In a sometimes contentious session, the House Education committee today passed legislation that would remove most limits on the number and size of online charter schools — called “cyber schools” in Michigan. The bill, Senate Bill 619, removes the restrictions set on the number and enrollment of cyber schools when they were first allowed in legislation passed two years ago. The bill, passed by the Senate last fall, faces an uncertain future in the House.

A surplus for schools? Don't hold your breath

The latest projections show that revenue to the state School Aid Fund, which supports K-12 education in Michigan, will increase 2.7% next year, compared to a 4.3% drop this year. But will local public schools get a funding increase? There will be a lot of politics at work between now and the start of school next fall, and little can be taken for granted. While Governor Snyder is likely to use any school aid surplus to make one-time “pay for performance” payments, there is significantly less money available to do that this year.

Action alert: charter school bill goes to Senate floor

Friends,

There is still time to let your state Senator know that your support Michigan's public schools and oppose the changes embodied in Senate Bill 618. That bill, now on the Senate floor, would:
  1. Remove any limits on the number of charter schools in Michigan;
  2. Allow charter schools to operate a network of schools under one charter, setting up shadow school districts;
  3. Permit school districts to contract-out instructional services (privatize teachers);
  4. Remove any requirements that staff of district-authorized charters, or teachers employed under contract with an outside body, be covered by existing collective bargaining agreements;
  5. Exempt charter school property from property taxes.
As you can see, this has less to do with improving the education of our children than it does with encouraging the growth of charter schools and the outsourcing of instruction.

Please take action now! Contact your state Senator about this bill!

> > Click here to read the full alert!

Achievement: Right answers, or right questions?

An interview in Education Week helps to highlight some of the issues that are crucial to education but don't get a lot of discussion.

Ed Week columnist Anthony Cody's interview with business consultant Steve Denning is worth a read for anyone interested in the content of our education.

Some nice press to share

One of our local papers here in Ann Arbor, where MIPFS is based, ran a rather nice story about us recently. We wanted to share this with our broader community so everyone could get a sense of what we're about. Feel free to share! http://heritage.com/articles/2011/06/07/ann_arbor_journal/news/doc4de6c9...
*Parent group continues push for school funding* Tuesday, June 07, 2011 By Donna Iadipaolo, Special Writer When they began in early 2007, Michigan Parents for Schools called themselves "Ann Arbor Parents for Schools." Though still based in Ann Arbor, one of the primary aspects of MIPF's work remains focused on public school funding. "We started with the aim of ensuring an adequate and stable source of funding for public schools in Michigan," said MIPFS Executive Director Steve Norton, "and that is still one of our primary action areas." Much of MIPFS's work is online. They prompted many of their activists, who number several thousand across the state, to contact the governor and state Legislature about the School Aid budget. Now their efforts will continue on education....
For the full article, please visit the Ann Arbor Journal site here: http://heritage.com/articles/2011/06/07/ann_arbor_journal/news/doc4de6c9...

Budget update: Let's make a deal [with update]

Updated Wed. 5/25/11
The school aid budget was reported out of conference committee today, and sailed rapidly through the Senate. The “compromise” bill reduces the cut to K-12, but does not plow the funds into the foundation allowance.

Last week, the Governor and majority leaders of the Legislature announced a budget agreement that reduced cuts to public schools. They were able to do this because of the projected $430 million increase in State revenues for the current year. These are considered “one-time” funds, however, because a potential surplus for next year will be eaten up by the business tax cut recently passed by the Legislature.

Budget Brief: Snyder's education budget proposal

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder presented his first budget proposals to the state legislature on 17 February. While it wasn't quite the "atomic bomb" Lt. Governor Brian Calley had promised, it produced shock waves nonetheless. By scrapping the Michigan Business Tax and replacing it with a much narrower corporate income tax, the proposed budget cuts business taxes by over $1 billion in 2011-12 and by $1.7 billion in the year after. To pay for this and still balance the budget, the governor wants to cut overall education spending by nearly $1.1 billion next year; his proposal also makes changes to the income tax that will increase revenues in large part by requiring retirees and low-income families to pay more in taxes. School districts may face overall reductions of $715 per pupil. Evidently, this is Gov. Snyder's vision for "reinventing Michigan."

Brief: Budget hangups

*Negotiations on a school aid budget for FY2011 ground to a halt as House and Senate conferees split on what to do with the projected School Aid Fund surplus.* After months of uncertainty, closure appeared near on the school aid budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year. A deal in principle was reached among House and Senate members on the conference committee reconciling the differences in "the two chambers' versions of the budget bill, SB 1163":http://legislature.mi.gov/doc.aspx?2010-SB-1163. The Senate version, passed before the "optimistic news from the May revenue estimation conference":http://www.miparentsforschools.org/node/127, had included further cuts of $118 per pupil plus larger transfers from the cash-strapped general fund. The revenue conference projections, however, allowed lawmakers to consider making no cuts at all for fiscal 2011. The news was good enough, in fact, that the School Aid Fund might emerge with a surplus when all was said and done. And that is where the trouble began.

A sliver of good news from the revenue conference

The State's key financial agencies released their consensus revenue estimate today, updating their predictions for state tax revenue for both this fiscal year and next. The consensus estimate for School Aid revenue for this year (2009-10) is now $10.75 billion, up $292 million (2.8%) from the estimates made in January. The estimate for next year (2010-11) is now $10.83 billion, up $352 million (3.4%) from the January estimates. These new projections may limit school aid cuts for next year to the $118 per pupil passed by the Senate earlier this spring, or possibly reduce it even more.

Status report: Where do we stand today? (Race to the Top)

For much of December, the Legislature was consumed with bills that lawmakers hoped would increase Michigan's chances to get a share of Federal "Race to the Top" funds. Money from this stimulus program would be awarded to states which came out on top in a competition which evaluated reform efforts, and Michigan might have qualified for as much as $400 million. In the end, Michigan was not chosen as one of the finalists for the first round of funding, but the changes to Michigan law enacted in late December are not voided as a result.

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