News From the Capitol, Apr 30, 2021

2021-04-30 | Michigan Association of School Boards

  • MI Vacc to Normal Plan, End-of-Year Gathering Guidance Released
  • Supplemental Budgets Head for Passage
  • Election Consolidation Legislation Passes House
  • Registration Open for NSBA's Advocacy Institute 

MI Vacc to Normal Plan, End-of-Year Gathering Guidance Released

Yesterday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the “MI Vacc to Normal” Plan, which outlines steps to ease restrictions and creates a pathway to getting back to normal. The plan is based on vaccination rates but does allow the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services to delay implementation in a region if new cases remain greater than 250 daily/million for a seven-day average. The plan is as follows:

  • Phase 1 – Two weeks after 55% of eligible Michiganders have received their first vaccination shot, requirements for remote work will be lifted.
  • Phase 2 – Two weeks after 60% have received their first shot, indoor capacity at sports stadiums, banquet halls, convention centers and funeral homes will increase to 25%. Gym capacity will increase to 50% and the curfew for bars and restaurants will be lifted.
  • Phase 3 – Two weeks after 65% have received their first shot, indoor capacity limits will be lifted but social distancing will still be required, and residential social gatherings limits will be relaxed.
  • Phase 4 – Two weeks after 70% have received their first shot, all gathering limits and masking orders will be lifted. This will continue unless new variants break through and strain the medical system.

To date, 48.8% of eligible people in Michigan have received at least one dose of a vaccine with 35.9% being fully vaccinated. At the current vaccination rates, we could reach Phase 1 by the end of May.

This week, MDHHS released new guidance on how schools can hold safe high school spring events, such as prom, graduation and year-end parties. It also includes guidance for schools that choose to implement an end-of-year school testing program. You will find the guidance here.

Supplemental Budgets Head for Passage

This week, both the House and Senate sent their supplemental budgets to the floor for consideration and a vote next week.  The House has three bills to distribute the federal money:

  • House Bill 4419 distributes funds to the Michigan Department of Education as well as six other departments. MDE receives $1.5 billion for child care programs. The largest amount of funding, $767.7 million, goes to changes to the child care development block grant to expand eligibility for families to receive assistance, waive family copays until September 2022, increase provider reimbursement rates, mental health consultations for providers and to pay providers based on enrollment rather than attendance.  
  • House Bill 4420 distributes $3.2 billion to the remaining 13 departments. It includes $750,000 in the Legislature’s budget for a study to compare pupil learning loss across virtual, hybrid and in-person instruction.
  • House Bill 4421 distributes $4.8 billion through the School Aid Fund. The remaining $840.7 million from ESSER II and $3.3 billion from ESSER III is distributed through the Title 1A formula as required by federal law. This bill also includes an “equalization payment” of $1,093 per pupil, meaning the state will guarantee that every district receives at least that amount if it doesn’t receive it through Title 1A formula. The committee did remove the requirement that House Bill 4082 be signed into law for any of the funds to be released.

The Senate has two bills:

  • Senate Bill 36 includes $3.5 billion for nine departments, including MDE. MDE receives $1.4 billion to establish a child care provider support and tuition reduction grant program.
  • Senate Bill 216 distributes the remaining $840.7 million from ESSER II through the Title 1A formula as required by federal law.  This bill also includes $10 million for payments direct to parents for summer programming expenses, which the Governor has previously vetoed. The bill does correct the definition of “eligible pupil” for summer programming by striking the language requiring the pupil to live within the geographic boundaries of the district to be eligible for funding. It also removes the eight-week and 40-hour requirements, instead requiring 30 hours.

The bills are all before their respective chambers and votes are expected next week.

The House and Senate Appropriations Committees are expected to approve the 2021-2022 state budget bills next week with possible passage in each chamber. You can find a comparison of the School Aid budget proposals on our website. We urge you to continue to talk to your legislators about how the proposals will affect your district and the timeliness of final budget decisions. We are pushing for the school budget to be completed by mid-June or earlier. 

Election Consolidation Legislation Passes House

On Tuesday, the House passed a series of bills by a vote of 63-46 that would change the dates of elections in Michigan. House Bill 4530 eliminates the May election date and moves the August primary date to the third Tuesday in June beginning in 2023. Companion bills reflect the changes in other sections of law. 

MASB opposes the bills and has been working to address our concerns with the bill sponsor. Eliminating the third election date would be detrimental to school bond and millage elections. Unfortunately, our concerns were not addressed before passage in the House. We remain hopeful that we can reach an agreement that alleviates our concerns with the legislation while addressing the issues raised by the clerks and will continue to push for changes in the Senate.

Registration Open for NSBA's Advocacy Institute 

The National School Boards Association's 2021 Advocacy Institute will be held virtually from June 8 – 10. Registration is now open and early bird pricing is available until April 30. NSBA is excited to provide this online experience focused on school board members' issues and priorities.  

Due to it being an online event, MASB will not be hosting its usual kick-off lunch. However, we are trying to coordinate a virtual event with Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters to replace our customary breakfast. We hope you will join school board members from around the country for this advocacy event.