News From the Capitol, May 7, 2021

2021-05-07 | Michigan Association of School Boards

  • State Budget Takes Next Step in Process
  • Outdoor Gathering Restrictions Lifted, New End-of-Year Guidance
  • Graduation Ceremonies Exempt From MDHHS Orders Under Proposed Legislation
  • Bill to Reduce Penalties for Noncertified Staff Headed to the Governor
  • Redistricting Commission Wants to Hear From Communities of Interest
  • A Chance to Serve—Apply for a MASB Committee
  • Registration Open for NSBA's Advocacy Institute 

State Budget Takes Next Step in Process

The House and Senate Appropriations Committees approved their versions of the School Aid Budget for 2021-2022 this week. Passage is expected in both chambers next week.

Senate Bill 83 includes a per-pupil foundation allowance increase of $125-250 through the 2x formula. In committee, a new section was added regarding extended learning plans. These plans would be required if a district plans for remote instruction during the first half of the school year because parents elected to keep their children at home or the school is closed due to public health order. It also waives language requiring 75% daily attendance for the first half of the year for those same two reasons.

House Bill 4407 includes an increase of $50-100 also using the 2x formula. However, the House also includes a one-time, per-pupil payment of approximately $120; this is in addition to the per-pupil foundation allowance. In committee, funding was increased for the Great Start Readiness Program to raise the full-day allocation to $8,211 per child to match the per-pupil increase. The committee also retained $172 million for MPSERS payments to districts to offset the increase in normal costs.

The next Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference is set for May 21, 2021. This will give the Legislature and the Governor the revenue figures with which to set the final budget. 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 continue to push for the School Aid Budget to be completed by mid-June.

You can find a comparison of the Governor, House and Senate School Aid Budget proposals on our website.

Outdoor Gathering Restrictions Lifted, New End-of-Year Guidance

As reported in Wednesday’s edition of DashBoard, the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services announced an update to the current epidemic order in regard to outdoor gatherings and masks. The updated order went into effect on May 6 and continues through May 31, 2021.

Under the order, masks are no longer required for outdoor gatherings of less than 100 people. It also establishes different mask requirements for those who are fully vaccinated, allowing for more circumstances in which a vaccinated person would not have to wear a mask. MDHHS has created a simple infographic on Choosing Safer Activities that outlines the differences.

Yesterday, new end-of-year event guidance was released. This gives advice on how schools can hold safe high school spring events, such as prom, graduation and year-end parties. It also includes information for schools that choose to implement an end-of-year school testing program.

Graduation Ceremonies Exempt From MDHHS Orders Under Proposed Legislation

Earlier this week, two bills passed their respective chambers that would ban MDHHS from creating orders that limit high school graduation ceremonies. Under the current orders, ceremonies would have to abide by current capacity limits, and require masks and social distancing.

Senate Bill 335 and House Bill 4728 would exempt graduation ceremonies from restrictions contained in the current pandemic order and allow local districts to decide for themselves how to run their ceremonies. MASB opposed the bill because the Legislature should not be picking certain activities to exempt from public health-related orders. Local districts should be following the advice of MDHHS and their local health departments as they determine how best to hold their graduation ceremonies.

Both bills passed narrowly. Senate Bill 335 passed 21-15 in the Senate, while House Bill 4728 passed 60-48. These bills are moving quickly, and it is likely that they will be voted on next week and sent to the Governor for her signature.

Bill to Reduce Penalties for Noncertified Staff Headed to the Governor

Earlier this week, the Senate unanimously agreed to the House version of Senate Bill 118, which would reduce penalties for employing an individual lacking certification or other credentialing requirements. Current law penalizes a district or ISD that violates this prohibition with a fine equal to the amount paid to that employee. 

MASB supports the bill as it requires the Michigan Department of Education to notify a district or ISD that it was in violation and provide a 10-day window for appropriate credentialing before a fine is imposed. It also adjusts the penalties, allowing MDE to impose a lower penalty if the district or ISD was hindered in the credentialing process due to circumstances not within their control. Finally, the bill would allow MDE to eliminate the second penalty that imposes a pupil membership deduction if the teacher was uncertified on the pupil count day.

The bill is now on its way to the Governor for her consideration and approval.

Redistricting Commission Wants to Hear From Communities of Interest

The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission is responsible for drawing the new legislative districts for the Michigan House, Michigan Senate and for the U.S. House of Representatives. These lines will be determined based on the U.S. Census data that was gathered last year.

Before drawing any lines, the MICRC is holding hearings to:

  • Inform the public about the redistricting process;
  • Share the purpose and responsibilities of the commission; and
  • Solicit information from the public about potential redistricting plans.

Redistricting will impact your district’s representation over the next decade. The MICRC is specifically tasked with considering the impact of redistricting on Communities of Interest. Communities of Interest share a common bond on how policy issues would affect them. School districts are considered a community interest, even as they may have smaller communities within them. We encourage you to make your voice heard on how redistricting will affect the legislative representation of your district.

For more information on the commission or to view the upcoming schedule of public hearings, please visit the MICRC website.

A Chance to Serve—Apply for a MASB Committee

Are you looking for a way to be more involved in your Association? Do you want to share your expertise and perspective statewide? Serving on MASB’s Government Relations Committee may be the right opportunity for you!

MASB committees bring together school board members from around the state to discuss vital issues and help shape your Association’s positions and actions. The Government Relations Committee monitors state and federal legislative and executive actions and school finance pertaining to public education and school districts.

To apply, contact Cheryl Huffman at chuffman@masb.org or 517.327.5915 with your interest by June 30, 2021. More information on this and the two other open committees—Resolutions and Bylaws and Legal Trust Fund—is available on the MASB website. You can apply for any of these committees by contacting Cheryl.

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  open. 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.