DashBoard, Sept. 6, 2017

You’re in a tough spot—a reporter has called you out of the blue with questions on an issue you’re either not up to speed on or don’t want to talk about—what do you do?

The Legislature returns to its normal schedule this week after a fairly quiet summer recess. MASB has a complete list of bills that we are monitoring, but there are a few we are hoping will see action sooner rather than later.

If you have been to a Secretary of State office, farmer’s market or sporting event recently, you likely have been approached by someone asking for your signature for a petition. From the perspective of signature gatherers, school events could be a great opportunity to gather support for their initiative. How should school districts respond if someone would like to gather signatures on school property?

The 24th annual Education Excellence Awards granted $25,000 to public school programs designed to improve student achievement and encourage innovation. A group of 10 winners was selected by a panel of judges with each district receiving a check for $2,500, an “Education Excellence Winner” road sign and a trophy.

Learn more about the winning programs for 2017, which incorporated a wide range of themes including STEM, reading, wellness and anti-bullying. These programs create opportunities for public school students, teach valuable skills, encourage civic responsibility and ultimately have a positive impact on students’ lives.

Congratulations again to this year's winners!

DashBoard, Sept. 13, 2017

Thanks to the hard work of educators and families, we as a nation have made real improvements in student achievement in recent years. Performance on the Long-Term Trends National Assessment of Educational Progress is on the rise, as are high school graduation rates.

MASB’s Delegate Assembly is your opportunity to voice your board’s opinion on state issues and the Association’s direction. It’s one important way you can be involved and influence where your Association is headed. The 2017 Delegate Assembly will begin Thursday, Nov. 9, at 7:30 p.m. at the Lansing Center, the night before the Annual Leadership Conference begins.

Changes to the public education landscape are occurring at an extremely fast pace. Constant changes in federal law, state law, court precedent, regulations and so forth can be overwhelming. Moreover, even though an individual board member’s access to information has never been greater, the sheer volume of that information can make it nearly impossible to have an actual, real-world understanding of the various implications and impacts these changes might bring with them.

MASB Executive Director Don Wotruba presented the Board of Education Governance Standards to the State Board of Education and State Superintendent yesterday in advance of them being released next week. They were endorsed by a 5-0 vote with two abstentions and one SBE member absent.

DashBoard, Sept. 20, 2017

According to MASB’s recent member survey, advocacy was heavily mentioned in terms of the value members have for MASB’s legislative efforts, member awareness and engagement in legislation that affects their district, and as a way to address ongoing school funding issues and other top priorities.

The Michigan Association of School Boards is hoping to bring some civility back to public office through its newly released Board of Education Governance Standards. The Standards were developed by school board members for school board members to provide a shared framework for effective school district governance and to enhance student achievement.

Patriotic ceremonies and refusals to participate in them have been frequently in the news over the past year or so. How should school officials respond if students protest in their districts?

Submitted by Paul Wills, Partner, Plante Moran

Your school district relies heavily on student enrollment for funding, future academic offerings and logistical decisions. Accordingly, a reliable estimate of the future enrollment in your district is essential to making the most informed operational and facility-related decisions. This valuable information is generated by pupil enrollment projections.

VIP Focus articles are company-sponsored advertisements and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of MASB. It’s intended to provide Very Important Partners with a space to share information of value to you and your district.

DashBoard, Sept. 27, 2017

Why is the most important role of the school board the one that so often gets lost within the routine of monthly meetings? The obvious roles of school board members, such as employing the superintendent and overseeing the fiscal health of the district, are highly visible and tend to get a lot of focus. And yet we know the most important role of school boards, establishing a shared vision for the district, rarely makes an appearance on the agenda.

The spirit of our current freedom of information law appears aimed at encouraging public entities to not charge at all when fulfilling a Freedom of Information Act request. According to the statute, “A fee… shall not be charged for the cost of search, examination, review, and the deletion and separation of exempt from nonexempt… unless failure to charge a fee would result in unreasonably high costs to the public body because of the nature of the request in the particular instance, and the public body specifically identifies the nature of these unreasonably high costs.” Hence, if complying with a FOIA request will result in an “unreasonably high cost” to your district, you should charge for it. Otherwise, there should be no charge for simple FOIA requests that would result in only nominal costs.

Do you have a good handle on the demographics of your district, i.e., who makes up your community? Knowing your audiences is key to effective communication and should be a topic discussed at the board table when determining how to share or collect information.

Last week, the Senate Education Committee approved Senate Bills 544-549, which would create the "Enhanced Michigan Education Savings Program." The program would allow parents to set up an educational savings account, similar to the MESP accounts, to be used for any educational expenses at public schools. The bills also create an income tax deduction for anyone who contributes to an enhanced MESP.