DashBoard, Nov. 1, 2017

State Superintendent Brian Whiston and the Michigan Department of Education will be entering into discussions with seven new school districts to develop Partnership Agreements with the goal of improving achievement levels at these struggling schools in Michigan.

Nothing seems to confuse school boards, or confound superintendents, quite like the Open Meetings Act. MASB’s Legal Department continues to field many calls regarding OMA compliance, especially from community members who are often attempting to report what they believe to be an OMA violation by their local school board. (Community members often hold the mistaken belief that MASB is an enforcement agency.)

Michigan is dead last in the nation when it comes to educating African-American students—that according to a new study. The 2017 Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children from the Annie E. Casey Foundation is the latest national study to paint a dismal picture of public education in Michigan.

Recently, President Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans proposed a new tax scheme that includes eliminating the state and local tax deductions on federal income taxes. Many believe that eliminating this deduction will have two significant negative effects. The first is the impact it will have on state and local government funding of public services. The second is the double taxation on taxpayers.

DashBoard, Nov. 8, 2017

Last week’s article on the Annie E. Casey Foundation report, 2017 Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children, may have felt like another punch in the gut. One more strike against our state in how we’re caring for and educating our children. That reality continues to be a hard pill to swallow when compared against all of the positive stories we hear about what is happening in our public school districts and the efforts being made by those in education-related fields.

The Revised School Code permits a local or intermediate school board to pay only “actual and necessary” expenses incurred by a board member in discharging his or her “official duties” or in performing “functions authorized by the board.” A board member who incurs an “actual and necessary” expense cannot be reimbursed unless one or both of the following procedures are followed.

On Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Government Operations held a hearing on Senate Bills 584-586. SB 584 would allow an individual with a Concealed Pistol License to request a special endorsement allowing them to carry a concealed firearm into no-carry zones, such as schools, day care centers, bars and stadiums. In order to receive the endorsement, an individual would need an additional eight hours of training and fire an additional 94 rounds. SB 585 amends the sentencing guidelines to reflect this change.

We're just one day away from kicking off MASB's 2017 Annual Leadership Conference at the Lansing Center! If you haven't made your plans to join us, there's still time. Register in person starting today at 5 p.m. and tomorrow at 7 a.m. Full details about the conference can be accessed here and you can contact MASB staff at 517.483.7436.

If you're already planning to attend, we can't wait to see you! Take a look at our Know Before You Go information for some important updates and tips to make the most of your conference experience.

DashBoard, Nov. 15, 2017

From clinic sessions to Board Member Certification (CBA) classes to General Session speakers and Preconference Sessions, there was a lot of information to take in over the course of the 2017 MASB Annual Leadership Conference, Nov. 9 – 12, at the Lansing Center. And there were a lot of people to do it.

It was another big turnout for the Delegate Assembly held Thursday, Nov. 9, before MASB’s Annual Leadership Conference at the Lansing Center. Voting delegates from more than 155 districts in 50 counties attended along with many other nonvoting members. Executive Director Don Wotruba welcomed the attendees and gave a summary of this past year’s accomplishments and where the organization is looking to go in the future.

The MASB Legal Trust Fund was established in 1975 to assist Michigan school boards involved in litigation having statewide significance. The Legal Trust Fund grants assistance both in the way of financial support and amicus curie (friend of the court) briefs to help school districts at all levels of litigation, from the State Tenure Commission up to the Supreme Court. With help of the Legal Trust Fund, boards of education can pursue cases they might otherwise have to settle because of the high costs of litigation. More importantly, every school board benefits when definitive answers are provided by the courts on complex legal questions affecting education in our state.

The MASB team is at it again to ensure we're offering a diverse lineup of member tools to stay in-the-know on the current state of education, not only in Michigan but nationwide!

Last week, we introduced MI SoundBoard, a twice-a-month podcast where we sit down and talk with education professionals on what's happening that we think you should know.

First up, Michigan State Superintendent of Public Instruction Brian Whiston joins MASB Executive Director Don Wotruba to discuss an alternative to elected school board members and what that could look like.

So subscribe, listen and share!

ITunes version Ι Google Play version

DashBoard, Nov. 22, 2017

As school board members, both veteran and new, you are preparing to deal with some of the more complex and nuanced issues you’ll be facing at the board table in 2018. One way to get a "leg up" is through MASB's Board Member Certification (CBA) classes. A few learning opportunities remain before the end of the calendar year in both the Lower and Upper Peninsulas.

A school board is not required to expel a student for possessing a weapon if the student establishes in a clear and convincing manner at least one of the following:

  • The object or instrument possessed by the student was not possessed for use as a weapon, or for direct or indirect delivery to another person for use as a weapon.
  • The weapon was not knowingly possessed by the student.
  • The student did not know or have reason to know that the object or instrument constituted a dangerous weapon.
  • The weapon was possessed by the student at the suggestion, request or direction of, or with the express permission of, school or police authorities.

On Nov. 8, the Senate passed Senate Bills 584-586, which will allow individuals who obtain a special endorsement with his or her concealed pistol license to carry concealed weapons within schools, day care centers, bars, arenas, churches and libraries.

This is your opportunity to join your Association's governance board! Seven seats on the MASB Board of Directors are up for election with terms starting next year.

At the 2017 Delegate Assembly earlier this month, the membership approved a change to the qualifications for those eligible to serve on the MASB Board of Directors making it easier to run. In order to be eligible, you must have served as a qualified trustee of an Active or Academy member board of education for at least two years and have completed the Fundamentals of School Board Service course (CBA 101) at the time of nomination.

Nomination forms are due by Jan. 10, 2018.

DashBoard, Nov. 29, 2017

On Thursday, the House Committee on Oversight is scheduled to take testimony on House Bills 5162 and 5163. The legislation would get rid of the Department of Health and Human Services’ rule requiring parents to travel to their local health departments to receive education on vaccines before receiving a waiver from having their child vaccinated. It would also prevent DHHS from promulgating any rules regarding vaccinations that are not strictly required by law.

Recently, a question was posed regarding whether or not a district could “sign off” on their superintendent’s self-evaluation; that is, can a school board simply adopt the findings and rating the superintendent gave himself/herself and treat those findings as the annual evaluation as required by Section 1249 of the Revised School Code? Quite honestly, the question probably should not center on whether a district can take such action, but whether they should.

As MASB reported on earlier this month, Congressional Republicans are poised to move ahead with a tax reform proposal that includes, among other major changes, the elimination of state and local tax deductions on federal income taxes. This would have a trickle-down negative impact on public education, and has resulted in a call to action from the National School Boards Association as Congress returns from its Thanksgiving recess this week.