""""K-16 to start petition drive
Group wants state to make annual funding increases for schools mandatory
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Ann Arbor News Bureau
LANSING - Five weeks after 11,000 people marched on the Capitol for more stable school funding, the coalition behind the rally is preparing to ask voters to guarantee inflationary increases for education.
Tom White, the head of the K-16 Coalition that represents more than two dozen education groups, said they are finalizing plans for a petition drive aimed at putting an annual inflationary increase for schools, community colleges and universities on the 2006 ballot.""""
This is a response to the defeat of the last school millage here. On May 3, Livingston County voters defeated a 3 mill tax increase by 9000 votes. The school officials across the state
I'm not against education, or even appropiate educational funding, but I staunchly oppose this at this time. This is a CYA due to poor fiscal mismanagement by the school boards across this state. Our school disticts are in debt, and now they want us to help them spend their way....into more debt.
And administrators and board members need to take their arrogance down a peg or two. I have even seen this in my own town. Howell schools had two elections for Headlee Overrides. In 2004, there was a June election for school board members, and for a Headlee Override. Shortly before the election, the Howell School Board gave 4% raises to their eight top administrators. This was while the Howell Superintendent, Charles Breiner, was a finalist for a job with another school district. This was a fiasco. The Board was asking for our money while raising salaries, and threatening budget cuts at the sane. This caused a quick write-in campaign by some citizens for school board positions during the 2004 school elections. The write-in candidates did not win, but the Headlee Override was defeated. That did not end this. Howell Schools implied to the Daily Press and Argus that the voters were uneducated about the tax increase and said they were going to ask the voters again.
"We believe that our voters - once they become educated about the potential for deeper cuts - will want to see the school system pass the override and avoid making additional cuts that have already been made to cover the shortfall in state funding," Breiner said.
We had a second election on September 20, 2004. This was on a Monday, and was shortly after the August primary and shortly before the November general elections. The school could have chosen to have this election on either of those other two days for much less money, but wanted to spend the money for this election in order for a low turnout. The second time was the charm for the tax pushers. On a ten percent turnout, the measure passed by 649 votes. This same school district tries to tell us that a rainbow flag that was flown in response to the defeat of proposition two (which passed with over 60% in Livingston County) was a “diversity flag,” and not a gay pride flag. What kind of a smokescreen is that? I don't like being lied to.
I moved to Howell from Brighton in 2003. In the short time here, I have voted on four tax issues related to schools. In 2003, we had a bond issue for Parker High School. In 2004, we had the Headlee Override election twice. Last May 3rd, the school districts in county had a county millage election which was trounced. What has caused the costs to raise so much money to ask the voters to raise taxes four times in three years? The schools blame lack of funding in Lansing. The truth however is lies with the health care plans of the faculty there. The Michigan Education Special Services Association (MESSA) health care plan is what the Mackinac Center calls a “Rolls Royce” plan. MESSA is an intermediary between the MEA and Blue Cross. It is the insurance arm of the MEA, and does not even provide their claims history. The Mackinac Center estimates a 20% savings of school districts if they no longer go with MESSA and go with a common private insurance arrangement. The MEA however has MESSA as the third rail of contracts, and will threaten strikes over any attempt to change MESSA. Unfortunately, we do not know how much MESSA costs exactly. They only report regional claims to get around a 1994 law, which gives school districts the right to view claims histories and open up insurance to competition.
The Mackinac Center has extensively reported on MESSA. Michigan employers paid an average cost of $6,400 for full family benefits. The average cost in school districts for full family benefits is over $10,000. Why is there such a cost difference? We don't know, since MESSA refuses to release the health-care claims history of individual districts. Why is that? MESSA does not report their claims so we don't know their exact cost difference. I encourage all readers to click on the link to the Mackinac Center report on MESSA. It explains things much more clearly than I could.
If the districts want my vote for this, they need to prove to me that they have taken every measure possible(short of hurting the kids) to cut costs and fiscally manage themselves. MESSA needs to go, and the money there needs to go to classrooms more than the administrators.