Save the Date: MPSERS Member Education Seminars Scheduled for Fall

MPSERS’ Member Education Seminars to update members on healthcare changes for 2017 will take place during the following weeks in October, November, and December. A complete schedule with specific dates and locations will be posted on our website and social media as it becomes available.

Michigan

Week of October 11, 2016 – Northern Michigan

Week of October 17, 2016 – West and Mid-Michigan

Week of October 24, 2016 – Southeast Michigan

Florida

Week of November 7, 2016

Arizona

Week of December 6, 2016

 

 

MARSP Past-president Don Miller dies

Donald Miller - PictureBy Marie Wilkerson, MARSP Foundation Chairman

MARSP Past President Don Miller died on Monday, August 1, 2016. Don served on the MARSP Board of Directors in various positions for 15 years and will be greatly missed as a leader

His first years on the MARSP Board of Directors came when he served as Area 12 Director from 1995 to 2002; including service as a regional director for 2001-02.  He then took on the role of vice-president in 2002 and subsequently served as MARSP President from 2005-07

Don always brought insight and knowledge to the table regarding the function of MARSP, and will be missed for his quick wit and yet thoughtful suggestions for MARSP

He also served as legislative committee chairman and MPSERS Board Observer, as well as a director on the MARSP Foundation Board. He served as its secretary and was also the Foundation Endowment Fund Board Treasurer.

Mr. Miller joined MARSP as a life member in 1994 and served as vice-president, president and insurance chairman in his local Lapeer County Chapter.  He was a loyal supporter of MARSP

Don was also very active in his local community. He won the “Male Citizen of the Year” award from the City of Lapeer in 2010.  He served on boards and committees for the Literacy Center, Library, and Lapeer Housing Commission.  He also volunteered his time at the Refuge soup kitchen for the homeless, Seven Ponds Nature Center, Master Gardeners, the Goodfellows, and was an active member of his church.

In his spare time he loved to work in his flower gardens.  Don earned the status of master gardener. Don was a giving individual who will be greatly missed at MARSP!

Click here to view Don Miller’s obituary.

 

Court of Appeals orders healthcare funds to be refunded to school employees

Health Care Law

The Court of Appeals ruled on June 7, 2016, that school employees were unconstitutionally required to pay 3% towards retiree health care from 2010-2013 as they were not guaranteed to see that money.  The main effect of the ruling, which affirms a 2012 Court of Appeals ruling on the same law, means that public school employees who paid in the 3% from July 1, 2010 to January 9, 2013 will see those payments refunded, unless the state chooses to appeal once again. 

 The case is AFT-Michigan v. Michigan.  Certainly, the decision will have significant ramifications for the state, schools and school employees, as over $600 million is currently sitting in escrow.  Schools currently are paying a higher MPSERS rate due to the fact that this money was originally intended to go towards retiree health care, so if the money is ultimately refunded, schools will not see the MPSERS rate decrease they otherwise would if it were kept in the system.

 

Executive Director’s June Blog Post: Study confirms House passed DPS bills doomed to fail

Study confirms House passed DPS bills doomed to fail. Let’s hope the Senate rejects this irresponsible plan and supports quality education for ALL Detroit students.

Which Districts Get Into Financial Trouble and Why: Michigan’s Story

The irony of this study being released on the same day the House passed bills to address the financial instability of Detroit Public Schools is stunning.  The report is only 23 pages long and it is pretty obvious the facts presented were never considered in the House deliberations.  Of course, why let the facts get in the way of fiscal policy? (That’s sarcasm if you didn’t pick that up.)

The authors are some of the most respected education policy analysts around.  The study explains why urban districts are continually getting short-changed under the existing policy for funding public school education in Michigan.  I wonder how the Charter Schools would fare if they were required to accept every special education student who applies for enrollment until they reached the same proportion of these students as their public school counterparts?  Or, how successful would they be if they saw their enrollments drop at a rate equal to the community population decline in their local public school district?

Here is a reality check, a substantial portion of the financial difficulties faced by urban public school districts are a direct result of factors that have almost nothing to do with the education delivered.  Population shifts and an uneven playing field, specifically special education costs, transportation costs and pre-existing infrastructure costs, have been proven as the most central causes of financial difficulties in all public schools in Michigan.  This is especially significant in large urban districts who have seen the largest population losses and resulting student population declines.

Unfortunately, the House ignored these facts and passed a series of bills to “rescue” DPS, which do absolutely nothing to formally address the issues that created this uneven playing field and led to the financial decline. (These factors also explain why Emergency Financial Managers consistently underperform in rebuilding communities and school districts.) What we are left with as a state, is a series of bills that are doomed to failure and essentially guarantee the money appropriated in the bills will be wasted and we the taxpayers will be stuck with a far larger cost than if they had simply studied the problem thoroughly before passing legislation that is overflowing with political favoritism.

We regularly hear from legislators how important it is to know the facts and build coalitions that are bipartisan.  These bills reek of a lack of bipartisanship and clearly the facts have once again been ignored in favor of political expedience.

We find it interesting that the Senate, which has a huge partisan disparity, took significantly more time than the House investigating the needs of Detroit public education and arrived at a truly bipartisan plan with a great chance for success for the public school students of Detroit.  Apparently it is true that the Senate is the site of deliberative decision making,  while the House – well, let’s just say the House did have bipartisan opposition to the bills that passed.

 

MARSP celebrates Older Americans Month: Resources

The following websites offer information and tools to help you blaze trails as you age. In addition to these resources, check out the Eldercare Locator, a public service of the Administration on Aging. It connects older adults, their families, and caregivers to information on local services and support. Topics range from volunteerism and healthy aging to legal assistance and transportation. Visit Eldercare.gov or call 800-677-1116 to learn what is available in your community.

Wellness

Brain Health
Source: Administration for Community Living

Falls Prevention
Source: National Council on Aging

Go4Life Exercise & Physical Activity Campaign
Source: National Institute on Aging

Healthy Eating As We Age
Source: USDA

Health and Wellness Videos
Source: NIHSeniorHealth.gov

Long-term Care Planning
Source: Department of Health and Human Services

NIHSeniorHealth
Source: National Institutes of Health

Older Adults and Oral Health
Source: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research

Sleep and Aging
Source: National Institutes of Health

Securing Your Finances

Advanced Care Planning Fact Sheets
Source: AoA’s Eldercare Locator

Elder Abuse (including Financial Exploitation)
Source: Administration on Aging

Elder Fraud and Financial Exploitation
Source: Federal Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force

Financial Protection for Older Americans
Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

OnGuard Online
Source: Office of Justice Programs

Protect Your Pocketbook: Tips to Avoid Financial Exploitation (PDF)
Source: AoA’s Eldercare Locator

Scammed? Now what … (PDF)
Source: National Council on Elder Abuse

Reinvention

Arts and Aging Toolkit for Organizations
Source: National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts, National Center for Creative Aging, and New Jersey Performing Arts Center

Directory of Creative Aging Programs
Source: National Center for Creative Aging

Participating in Activities You Enjoy—More Than Just Fun and Games
Source: National Institute on Aging

Ready for Your Second Career?
Source: AARP Bulletin

Second Acts for the Greater Good
Source: Encore.org

Senior Community Service Employment Program
Source: Department of Labor

Civic Engagement

Health Benefits of Volunteering (PDF)
Source: Corporation for National and Community Service

Project Toolkits
Source: Corporation for National and Community Service

SeniorCorps
Source: Corporation for National and Community Service

Tips for Boomers Who Want to Volunteer (PDF)
Source: Corporation for National and Community Service

United We Serve
Source: Corporation for National and Community Service

Volunteering and Civic Engagement among Older Adults
Source: Corporation for National and Community Service

 

 

 

MARSP supports Senate’s solution for Detroit Public Schools

The Michigan Association of Retired School Personnel (MARSP) has been carefully watching the progress of the legislature in regard to resolving the serious financial condition of Detroit Public Schools faced by the State of Michigan. After evaluating the process of formulating a responsible solution in both the House and Senate and deliberating over the two proposed sets of bills, it has become quite obvious the Senate rose above the partisan bickering, dismissive commentary and finger-pointing to craft a true solution to the financial challenges faced by the State in resolving the DPS issues.

MARSP sincerely appreciates the many months of work in the Senate and the tireless efforts of Senators Goeff Hansen (R-Hart) and David Knezek (D-Dearborn Heights), in particular, in crafting a comprehensive, bipartisan plan to address the challenges facing Detroit Public Schools.

We believe the reforms in the Senate-passed package (SB 710, 711, 820, 822) ensure financial stability, academic opportunity, and a fresh start for children in Detroit.   We applaud the, courageous, positive, bipartisan approach to DPS reform passed by the Senate, and encourage strong support of the Senate package by legislators as the process moves forward.

For a summary of how the two packages of bills differ, please see the plan comparisons below (Source: Livengood, C., and Oosting, J. “Future of DPS hinges on GOP Capitol showdown.” The Detroit News, May 6, 2016.):

House plan (HB 5383, 5387, 5384)

  • $500 million for DPS over 10 years. $33 million of it would be for start-up costs and cash flow aid.
  • School board elections in August 2017. Existing Detroit Financial Review Commission would also oversee schools, have final say in hiring of new superintendent.
  • Existing labor contracts would not transfer to the new school district, but teachers would retain their jobs. Administrators and principals would have to reapply.
  • Teacher pay would be based on merit, not seniority. Non-certified teachers could temporarily work in the district.
  • Would make it easier to begin strike hearings leading to penalties in a bid to prevent sickouts.

Senate plan (SB 710, 711, 820, 822)

  • $715 million over 10 years. $515 million for paying off past debts. $200 million for new school district’s start-up costs, including $75 million for building improvements.
  • School board elections in November 2016. Detroit Financial Review Commission would also oversee schools, review contracts.
  • Creation of a Detroit Education Commission to regulate the opening of new traditional public or charter schools in the city. Only high-performing charters could “replicate” without approval of the mayor-appointed commission.
  • A-F letter system to grade all traditional and charter schools in Detroit. Consistently failing schools could face intervention or closure.

Federal court permanently enjoins Secretary of State from enforcing gag order law

LANSING, Mich. — U.S. District Judge John Corbett O’Meara has accepted an agreement between the Secretary of State’s office and local governments and school groups, permanently enjoining Secretary of State Ruth Johnson from enforcing a law passed in December that prevented local officials from providing factual information on local ballot proposals.

O’Meara’s order, entered today, references his previous temporary injunction against enforcement of the law, saying that the local governments had “demonstrated a strong likelihood of success on the merits of their claim that (the law) is unconstitutionally vague and thus void.”

The gag order was part of a larger campaign finance bill that passed the Legislature with little debate in the final days of last year’s legislative session and was signed by Gov. Rick Snyder, becoming Public Act 269 of 2015.

Following O’Meara’s initial preliminary injunction, lawyers for the local governments, school districts, and the state negotiated an agreement that the Secretary of State’s office, charged with enforcing state election laws, would not enforce the gag law. O’Meara accepted that agreement in his order issued today.

“We thank Judge O’Meara for moving quickly on this important issue, and allowing our local government officials to provide vital facts for voters on ballot issues that come before them,” said Dan Gilmartin, Michigan Municipal League CEO and Executive Director. “Voters rely on local governments to let them know why a measure has been put on a ballot, what it does, and what, if any financial ramifications it may have to them as taxpayers. The Secretary of State’s office will still enforce existing laws that prevent electioneering by local officials, a practice that it has found is rare given the hundreds of local proposals voters decide on every year.”

“County commissioners and other local leaders will be pleased to know they can continue to inform their constituents about ballot issues in the same fashion that they have done for years,” said Matthew Bierlein, a plaintiff in the lawsuit and a Tuscola County commissioner. “Now that this dispute is behind us, everyone can turn their attention back to cooperatively addressing Michigan’s challenges.”

Michigan Townships Association Executive Director Larry Merrill said, “This consent judgment will allow townships and all local governments to do their proper duty—without fear of prosecution—of ensuring voters have the necessary knowledge to make informed decisions regarding local ballot measures.  A well-informed citizenry is at the heart of democracy and voters deserve clear, factual information about the issues that impact their community. Any legislative attempts to muzzle local officials’ ability to provide impartial information to their voters does not serve the public interest.”

Don Wotruba, Executive Director for the Michigan Association of School Boards added, “Judge O’Meara’s ruling that the gag order provisions created in PA 269 are unenforceable, comes as a relief for our members. Voters deserved better than this law allowed and we are pleased to see that acknowledged by the Attorney General and the Courts. This will allow our members and school districts to share factual information on upcoming ballot initiatives with parents and the community without worrying about penalties from the state.”

Groups leading the fight to provide citizens with factual information on ballot issues included the Michigan Municipal League, Michigan Association of Counties, Michigan Townships Association, Michigan Association of School Boards, Michigan Association of School Administrators, Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators and Michigan Library Association.

The public officials listed as plaintiffs were: Roseville Mayor Robert Taylor; Algonac City Manager Douglas R. Alexander; Dowagiac Mayor Donald Lyons; Tuscola County Commissioner Matthew Bierlein; New Haven Community Schools Superintendent Todd R. Robinson; Riverview Community Schools School Board President Gary O’Brien and Superintendent Russell Pickell; Tecumseh School Board President Kimberly Amstutz-Wild and Superintendent Kelly M. Coffin; Waterford School District School Board President Robert Seeterlin and Superintendent Keith Wunderlich; Goodrich Area Schools Superintendent Michelle Imbrunone; Clinton Community Schools Superintendent David P. Pray; Byron Area Schools School Board President Amy Lawrence and Superintendent Patricia Murphy-Alderman; Warren Consolidated School District Superintendent Robert D. Livernois; Lansing School District Superintendent Yvonne Caamal Canul; and Stephen Purchase, a private citizen.

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and the State of Michigan were listed as defendants.

Robert Taylor et al v. Ruth Johnson and the State of Michigan was filed Jan. 26 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, based in Detroit.

Article provided courtesy of MASB.