MARSP Summ’re Hungry campaign to fight childhood hunger

Summre_Hungry_logoTo help feed Michigan school children during the summer months, MARSP members will be showing up at their former school districts in late April and early May to collect food donations in a campaign called “Summ’re Hungry”.

Summ’re Hungry is a collaboration between MARSP and the Food Bank Council of Michigan (FBCM) along with the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals and Michigan Association of School Administrators.

“People are generous with donations to food banks during fall and into the holiday season, but not necessarily at other times of the year,” says Mark Guastella, MARSP executive director. “Our goal is to help stock the food banks of Michigan this spring so that children don’t have to miss meals when school is out for summer.”

One in four Michigan children lives in poverty and in the summer months many children are “food insecure.”

MARSP’s efforts will keep children fed during the summer,” says Phil Knight, executive director of Food Bank Council of Michigan. “Hunger doesn’t take a summer vacation. This campaign aims to remind people that children and families need support year round.”

MARSP members in the following school districts will conduct Summ’re Hungry food drives during April and May.

– Ann Arbor

– Comstock Park

-Grand Haven

– Lansing

– Saginaw

-Traverse City

Nonperishable food items will be collected and delivered to local pantries to help feed children who don’t have access to school meals all summer. Click here to learn more on about the Summ’re Hungry program.




MARSP, founded in 1951, has approximately 40,000 members in Michigan and other states. The statewide organization and member chapters advocate for protecting pensions and health care benefits of current and future retirees of Michigan public schools.

Before you file for your social security benefits consider attending this informative workshop

MARSP is hosting a Social Security 567 seminar at the MARSP Center in Lansing on April 21, 2016, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Please consider joining us.

Attend this workshop and learn the little known strategies that will help you:

  • Avoid some of the most common mistakes when filing for your Social Security
  • Calculate which one of the 567 ways to file may be best for you
  • Collect benefits and still grow your own benefit 8% per year
  • Collect off of an ex-spouse’s benefit
  • Collect off of a deceased ex-spouse’s benefit
  • Find potential benefits you never knew you were eligible for
  • Increase your lifetime benefits by tens of thousands of dollars

This class is strictly educational. No investments will be promoted at the class. Click here to learn more.

Best of Health: Blue Cross Verification of Coverage Surveys being mailed in May

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Best of Health publications for Spring 2016 contain important information regarding the Blue Cross Verification of Coverage (VOC) form which is being mailed in May.  Please click below to read the Spring 2016 issue. Members will also receive the publication via regular mail.

Best of Health for Medicare members – Spring 2016

Best of Health for Non-Medicare members – Spring 2016

MARSP Former Treasurer and MARSP Foundation Scholarship Committee Chairman, Thomas Nyquist, dies

ThomasNyquistTempPhotoThomas Nyquist, former MARSP Treasurer and Finance Committee Chairman, as well as former MARSP Foundation Treasurer and Scholarship Committee Chairman, passed away on Sunday, April 3, 2016. Tom was a vital part of MARSP for many years and volunteered countless hours for both MARSP and the MARSP Foundation.

Tom’s career, beginning in 1958, included business teacher, football coach, computer science teacher, Assistant Director of Business Occupations, Dean of Occupational Studies, Dean of Instruction, Business Manager, and Vice-president of Administrative Services. He retired from Mid-Michigan Community College in 1987. He also served as a Clare County Commissioner and as the Mayor of Clare, for two years each.

Tom began his service to MARSP as a member of his chapter’s board of directors and as insurance chairman. He served as MARSP Treasurer from 1997-2003 and then as MARSP Finance Committee Chairman from 2003-2015. He also served on the MARSP Foundation Board of Directors as Treasurer from 1996-2015 and as the chairman of the Foundation Scholarship Committee for many years.

Tom was instrumental in bringing about and maintaining MARSP’s strong financial position and his service and contributions to MARSP were invaluable. He will be greatly missed.

MARSP Annual Business Meeting Schedule – 2016

Chapter Name Date of Annual Business Meeting
Alger 6/13/2016
Allegan 4/21/2016
Alpena 5/12/2016
Baraga 5/10/2016
Barry 5/18/2016
Bay Area 5/9/2016
Blue Water 5/18/2016
Charlevoix 5/18/2016
Cheboygan 5/25/2016
Chippewa-Mackinac 5/18/2016
Clare 5/3/2016
Colorado 5/3/2016
Crawford-Oscoda 5/18/2016
Delta 5/3/2016
Dickinson 5/19/2016
Eaton 5/10/2016
Emmet 5/26/2016
Genesee 5/12/2016
Genesee Southeast 5/11/2016
Genesee West 5/3/2016
Gladwin 5/23/2016
Gogebic 5/11/2016
Grand Traverse 5/11/2016
Gratiot 5/17/2016
Houghton-Keweenaw 5/2/2016
Huron 4/29/2016
Ingham- Greater Lansing 4/21/2016
Ionia 4/21/2016
Iosco-Alcona 5/19/2016
Iron 5/12/2016
Isabella 5/3/2016
Leelanau 5/18/2016
Livingston 5/19/2016
Luce/Tahquamenon 5/11/2016
Macomb East 5/4/2016
Macomb North 5/4/2016
Manistee 5/9/2016
Marquette 6/9/2016
Mason-Lake 5/12/2016
Menominee 5/5/2016
Monroe 5/19/2016
Monroe South 5/19/2016
Montcalm 5/11/2016
Muskegon 5/3/2016
Newaygo 5/10/2016
Oakland Farmington 5/10/2016
Oakland North 5/10/2016
Oakland Suburban 5/10/2016
Oceana 5/16/2016
Ogemaw 5/6/2016
Ontonagan 5/17/2016
Osceola 5/3/2016
Presque Isle 5/16/2016
Roscommon 5/9/2016
Saginaw 5/18/2016
Sanilac 5/18/2016
St Joseph 5/10/2016
TN – East Tennessee 5/9/2016
Washtenaw 5/18/2016
Wayne Downriver 5/19/2016
Wayne Metro 5/19/2016
Wexford-Missaukee 5/19/2016

MARSP Legislative Update – February 2016

By S. Mark Guastella, MARSP Executive Director

There are so many bills and resolutions floating around Lansing at this time, it is difficult to put together a report that flows smoothly from one issue to the next. Here is my best effort at providing you a report that provides the information you need to understand the latest goings on in the world of legislation.

Teacher strike penalties

I will start with bills I know you are interested in but which do not actually have an impact on retiree benefits.

HB 5235 & SB 713: Teacher Strikes – defines additional penalties on teachers.

HB 5236 & SB 714: Teacher Strikes – penalties to include loss of teacher certification.

HB 5237 & SB 715: Teacher Strikes – District to lose 5% of state aid payment if above penalties are not levied.

From the speed with which these bills were brought up, I would have to say that something has “poked the bear”. All three of these bills, both in the House and Senate, are directly written to aggressively punish any active school employee, or group, who participate in a work stoppage/strike/sick-out. Quite obviously they are a reaction to the closure of numerous Detroit Public School buildings due to staff calling in sick.

While MARSP does not take positions on legislation that does not impact retiree benefits, we are well aware these bills may strike a chord with many public school retirees who have experienced similar issues in their active employment years. We feel it is important you are aware of these bills and their potential impacts.

Detroit Public Schools crisis

Next up are two bills we do have a clear interest in. They are Senate Bills 710 & 711. These bills address the financial condition of Detroit Public Schools. DPS is projected to be insolvent in April if the legislature does not provide additional funding to deal with the accumulated debt of the district. DPS is substantially in arrears to MPSERS and without proper funding the entire retirement system and school districts throughout the state will be negatively impacted.

These bills also offer a solution which would break the district into two separate entities – one entity that would exist solely to pay off debt, and a new school district to replace DPS going forward accompanied with structural, academic, and financial reforms. Governor Snyder has proposed $715 million to fund the transition to the new district over the next 10 years, or roughly $72 million annually. This amount represents $515 million to pay off DPS debt and $200 million for the transition to a new school district. Governor Snyder has recommended funding the $715 million through repurposing existing tobacco settlement dollars in order to hold the School Aid Fund and other districts throughout the state harmless.

In our opinion, these bills fall well short of effectively solving the financial problems of DPS. There is certainly no easy way to resolve this crisis but it must be resolved, as a DPS bankruptcy would have negative ramifications statewide. There is certainly no easy way to resolve this crisis but it must be resolved. Knowing this issue must be resolved, we appreciate the legislature finally taking a serious look at the needs of DPS. MARSP is presently taking a position of “monitoring” these bills in an effort to get the proper solutions on the table in a bi-partisan manner.

We feel quite strongly that an effective solution will require a comprehensive review of all educational providers in Detroit, not just Detroit Public Schools. Without this type of analysis and revision to the bills to provide oversight and coordination of effort, the new district will be doomed to failure. MARSP believes an effective solution has been offered by Mayor Duggan to bring order to the confusing lack of geographic and curriculum coordination in Detroit amongst charters, DPS, and the EAA. Mayor Duggan has proposed creation of a Detroit Education Commission, similar to a recommendation the Governor made last year, to establish a single point of accountability to coordinate enrollment and opening and closing of schools. The DEC would not operate schools, but would promote expansion of quality schools, treating both traditional and charter schools equally. We encourage the legislature to make an effective decision by passing legislation consistent with the Mayor’s proposal.

Expanded use of sinking funds

House Bill 4388 is a bill intended to allow a limited expansion of allowable uses of sinking fund dollars. This change would potentially ease the burden on district budgets by allowing school districts to utilize sinking funds for school security improvements and technology. This has become a fairly large budget item for many districts. By allowing these dollars to be paid from a sinking fund, a district would see some budget relief, thus reducing the risk a district may defer a payment to MPSERS as has been the case with DPS. MARSP is likely to support this bill.

State School Board action

Now we get into the jumble of “other stuff” the legislature will need to deal with. On Tuesday a series of 14 bills were introduced in the Senate intending to clean up and/or eliminate unnecessary and redundant reports required by or internal to the Department of Education. On the surface, we can see the need to perform this type of legislative action on an ongoing basis. We will review the bills at the next MARSP Legislative Committee meeting.

Yesterday, State Superintendent of Education, Brian Whiston, presented to the State School Board his plan to make Michigan a top 10 education state within 10 years. His plan does not include any direct impacts to existing retirees but we suggest taking a look at his plan as it offers some positive initiatives for the future of education in Michigan.

Also Tuesday, the State School Board adopted a resolution to have a locally elected board select a Superintendent for DPS. They also adopted a resolution, along party lines, to have the Department of Education take responsibility for the siting of all schools in the state. This is seen as a move to address the locating of new charter schools primarily in Detroit, but also throughout the State. This will meet with very heavy opposition from charter school advocates. It is unlikely that this concept will make it to the legislature for action.

Public Act 269

Finally, Public Act 269 (previously SB 571) continues to come under attack by schools and municipalities from all over the state. Its constitutionality has also been challenged and a court has put in place a stay on its implementation until a full hearing can be held. As requested by the Governor at the bill signing, the legislature is trying to enact legislation that more clearly states the rules regarding a member of a public body commenting on a millage or other ballot proposal. There does not seem to be a consensus on resolving the language at this time and only time will tell if this will be resolved legislatively.

Strength in Numbers

One last comment, I am very concerned that the financial implications associated with resolving the Flint water crisis, the DPS financial crisis, the funding of road repairs and the anger over public school employee sick-outs will encourage members of the legislature to again suggest closing out our defined benefit pension system, reducing funding for your health care benefit, or both.

We cannot sit idly by and allow any renewed effort to reduce retiree benefits make its way forward. We need a very strong effort by our members to contact non-MARSP retirees to join our association. We must expand our membership if we are to overcome these ongoing attempts to reduce benefits. Our voice is made incredibly stronger when we expand our membership base. We need you to actively support this effort. Contacting your legislator is a very useful action, but referring a new member has a much longer lasting effect, and this includes something as simple as having your spouse also become a MARSP member. Our biggest strength is in our numbers and we need you to take on this challenge!