Tag Archives: Michigan

Sioux Falls protests VA privatization

Source: Jack Taylor, KELO, July 26, 2016

If your going by the Sioux Falls VA between 11 a.m. and noon today you’ll see a protest against privatizing the government hospitals. Jane Nygaard with the American Federation of Government employees says the Koch brothers are behind “Concerned Veterans of America” which is working to privatize the VA. Nygaard asks why would the nation privatize VA hospitals when that act wouldn’t provide the specialized care that veterans need. … he says polls nationwide show that 80% of veterans say they do not want the VA privatized.  She says the VA Commission on Care report says the VA gives the best quality care to veterans and for lesser cost to taxpayers. …


Union, veterans protest potential VA privatization
Source: Matt Murphy, Wyoming Tribune Eagle, July 7, 2016

Concern over Congress privatizing Veterans Affairs health-care services led local union members and military veterans to protest near Cheyenne’s VA Medical Center Wednesday morning. A couple dozen people stood on either side of Pershing Boulevard near the roundabout at Converse Avenue beginning at about 7 a.m. They waved small American flags and held blue signs with gold lettering that read, “Veterans for a Strong VA,” “Staff the VA” and “VA Workers for a Strong VA.” … If the system is privatized, he said, there is concern that level of care will be lost. Further, Massan said there is concern that portability, or the ability for military veterans to use VA facilities nationwide, could disappear. Talk of privatizing VA medical services has come up at the federal level through the years, including this year. The Commission on Care, a panel created by Congress to analyze the services provided by the VA, has been studying the issue for several months – including privatization. The panel issued its final report Tuesday, which recommended overhauling the VA system and expanding access to private health care, but not full privatization, according to the Federal Times and the Wall Street Journal. …

Local private sector help for VA projects backed at Senate hearing
Source: Joseph Morton, Omaha World-Herald, June 30, 2016

A proposal to build new veterans health facilities through public-private partnerships received a warm reception Wednesday at a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing. Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., presented legislation to allow those partnerships, saying Americans’ confidence in the care provided to veterans has been shaken. … It’s a key issue for the Omaha area, which has seen a $560 million replacement for its aging VA hospital stalled by cost overruns and delays on other VA projects. Local donors have rallied to the idea of a public-private partnership that would instead construct a $136 million ambulatory care facility — a scaled-down but presumably much more achievable approach. Involving the private sector in VA construction projects can help them progress more smoothly, Fischer said. … It’s unclear exactly when the bills will come up for votes, but Ashford and Fischer talked about seeking congressional action by September and certainly before the end of the year. Several veterans organizations on Wednesday offered testimony supporting the legislation. The VA also offered its strong support for the bill while raising a technical issue on some of the language.

Local union workers and veterans protest VA privatization
Source: Ethan Levin, Michigan Daily, June 22, 2016

About 50 veterans, union employees and family members gathered at the Ann Arbor Veterans Affairs Hospital Wednesday to protest the proposed federal privatization of veteran health care. The protest was organized by the American Federation of Labor and the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). … Amie Pounds, a national organizer for AFGE, and James Jr. agreed that the congressional commission’s assessments have been not only inaccurate but also swayed by private corporations’ profit interests. According to Pounds, of the 15 members on the commission, not one can be linked to a mainstream veterans service organization. Rather, the panel is comprised of primarily private hospital executives who stand only to benefit financially from privatizing the VA. …

Vet Groups Uniting To Oppose Privatized Care, Defend VA
Source: Terry Howell, Military Advantage, June 23, 2016

The nation’s leading veteran services organizations are rallying behind the Department of Veterans Affairs and its beleaguered health care system, touting the experience of staff, the breadth of services and its holistic approach to care delivery that they argue the private sector cannot match. The VSOs are warning of politicians and groups with agendas that constantly criticize VA health care, refuse to acknowledge reforms and thus advance a camouflaged campaign to dismantle VA health care. They also say it is time to better educate their own members on actions being taken to improve to the healthcare system that millions of veterans rely upon. …

Lansing ends privatized parts deal at city garage

Source: Eric Lacy, Lansing State Journal, July 15, 2016

The City of Lansing will terminate its relationship with a private company to supply and manage parts at the central garage because the effort “hasn’t met our expectations for cost savings,” Mayor Virg Bernero said Friday in a press from his office. A licensing agreement with NAPA is expected to end sometime in the next 30 days. Bernero said in the press release that the city decided to end the agreement after several weeks of careful financial analysis. … The city’s central garage manages and supplies parts for items and vehicles ranging from chainsaws and lawnmowers to ambulances and police cars. After Bernero’s announcement, Dennis Parker, president of UAW Local 2256 and a city employee, told the Lansing State Journal he applauds the decision. Bernero pushed for the city’s contract with NAPA over the winter — authorizing three NAPA employees to work in the garage — and estimated  that the contract could save “50,000 to $150,000” and “greatly increase efficiency” in an interview with the LSJ on Feb. 25. No city employees lost their jobs when NAPA moved in, but the UAW did lose two bargaining unit positions in the garage because two city employees were reassigned by Bernero’s administration to operations and maintenance duties. …

Snyder seeks court opinion on private school funding

Source: Jonathan Oosting, Detroit News, July 13, 2016

Gov. Rick Snyder is asking the Michigan Supreme Court to weigh in on the constitutionality of using $2.5 million in public funds to reimburse private schools for state mandates, as planned in the education budget he signed last month. The request for an advisory opinion could help stave off a potential lawsuit from public school groups, who argue the fiscal year 2017 appropriation violates the Michigan Constitution, which bans most direct or indirect payments to private schools. … The Michigan Constitution bans any “payment, credit, tax benefit, exemption or deductions, tuition voucher, subsidy, grant or loan of public monies” to nonpublic schools. It says state funds can be used to provide transportation to any kind of school but the language has usually been interpreted to block state support for educational services at private schools. The $2.5 million general fund appropriation is intended to help parochial and other nonpublic schools cover costs associated with state mandates identified in a 2014 report prepared by the Michigan Department of Education …

Amid Building Boom, Debate over Publicly Funded Stadiums Goes On

Source: Elaine S. Povich, Pew Charitable Trust, July 11, 2016

Missouri and St. Louis tried mightily to keep the NFL Rams from decamping for Los Angeles, offering $400 million in state and city money for a new stadium. To justify the public expense, officials argued that the team, which moved from Los Angeles to St. Louis two decades ago, was an economic engine for the region. They offered to put up the money even though the Rams’ billionaire owner, Stan Kroenke, could afford to build a new stadium on his own. … Two other NFL teams, the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders, also are eyeing a move to the nation’s second largest city. But Nevada is hoping to grab the Raiders for itself, by dangling a $1.4 billion stadium that would be paid for, at least in part, by the taxpayers. Meanwhile in Atlanta, construction is underway on a new $950 million stadium for the NFL Falcons, to be financed partly through bonds secured by extending a tax on hotel and motel rooms. Amid all the jockeying, a decadeslong debate rages on: Does it make economic sense for cities and states to use public money to build sports facilities? …

… But many economists maintain that states and cities that help pay for new stadiums and arenas rarely get their money’s worth. Teams tout new jobs created by the arenas but construction jobs are temporary, and ushers and concession workers work far less than 40 hours a week.  Furthermore, when local and state governments agree to pony up money for stadiums, taxpayers are on the hook for years — sometimes even after the team leaves town. St. Louis, for example, is still paying $6 million a year on debt from building the Edward Jones Dome, the old home of the Rams that opened in 1995, despite the team’s move to California. The debt is financed by a hotel tax and taxes on “game day” revenues like concessions and parking. …


New stadiums cost more than just money
Source: Yousef Baig, The Weekly Calistogan, July 29, 2015

…The first place to start is with the financing. A few years ago, a Harvard urban planning professor named Judith Grant Long put out a book called “Public/Private Partnerships for Major League Sports Facilities” that shed some light onto what these deals really cost taxpayers and the subsequent spillover effect into other areas. … The average public/private partnership has the cities forking over 78 percent of the costs, and the teams themselves just 22 percent. Additionally, she added, taxpayers spent about $10 billion more than originally estimated on the construction of all 121 stadiums that were in use during 2010. Ownership groups (made up of billionaires) tell city officials that they can’t afford the hundreds of millions of dollars required to erect these modern coliseums. They talk about the boon it will bring to the surrounding area, the increase in tourism, and the creation of jobs, while in the same breath, threatening to leave for another city if they don’t oblige. …

Hamilton County, which took on stadiums for both the Cincinnati Bengals and Cincinnati Reds in the mid-1990s, has been crippled with debt ever since. In 2013 alone, annual stadium expenses totaled $43 million. Since these two stadiums were built, a public hospital was sold, mass transit investments were put off, and the tiny amount of private development along the Ohio River, which was a big selling point to get an increase in sales tax approved, has still required additional public subsidies. …
To afford the $720 million required to build Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium, the city raised hotel, restaurant and rental car tax rates. Five months after it opened in 2008, a first-year deficit of $25 million was projected to jump to $45 million a year later. In June 2013, the city of Detroit, amid a financial crisis and filing for bankruptcy, stayed the course with its $444 million hockey arena for the Red Wings. A $450 million bond with a 30-year term fit the average arrangement mentioned in Long’s book, leaving taxpayers responsible for $283 million of it. …

John Oliver: How Sports Teams Are Ripping Us Off
Source: Marlow Stern, Daily Beast, July 12, 2015

After a week off, John Oliver and his award-worthy HBO program Last Week Tonight are back, and this time, they’re targeting one of America’s favorite pastimes: pro sports….. “The vast majority of stadiums are made using public money,” said Oliver, citing a report from 2012 stating there’s been “$12 billion spent on the 51 new facilities opened between 2000 and 2010.” “Which begs the question: Why?” he asked…… But the theory that building a new stadium boosts a city’s economy is, according to an economic study cited by Oliver, a total myth. “A major review of almost 20 years of studies shows economists could find no substantial evidence that stadiums had increased jobs, incomes, or tax revenues,” he said….Recently, Hamilton County, Ohio, spent more than $50 million on stadium debt service and other costs in 2014 for the Cincinnati Bengals and Reds, even though the county has had to sell a public hospital, cut 1,700 jobs, and delay payments for schools because of budget gaps.

Source: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, July 12, 2015

Cities spend massive amounts of public money on privately-owned stadiums. Cities issue tax-exempt municipal bonds that — wait, don’t fall asleep!

Public-Private Partnerships for Major League Sports Facilities
Source: Judith Grant Long, Routledge, ISBN-13: 978-0415806930, 2012
(purchase required)

This volume takes readers inside the high-stakes game of public-private partnerships for major league sports facilities, explaining why some cities made better deals than others, assessing the best practices and common pitfalls in deal structuring and facility leases, as well as highlighting important differences across markets, leagues, facility types, public actors, subsidy delivery mechanisms, and urban development aspirations. It concludes with speculations about the next round of facility replacement amidst rapid changes in broadcast technology, shrinking domestic audiences, and the globalization of sport.

Do Economists Reach a Conclusion on Subsidies for Sports Franchises, Stadiums, and Mega-Events?
Source: Dennis Coates and Brad R. Humphreys, Econ Journal Watch, Vol 5 no. 3, September 2008

From the abstract:
This paper reviews the empirical literature assessing the effects of subsidies for professional sports franchises and facilities. The evidence reveals a great deal of consistency among economists doing research in this area. That evidence is that sports subsidies cannot be justified on the grounds of local economic development, income growth or job creation, those arguments most frequently used by subsidy advocates. The paper also relates survey evidence showing that economists in general oppose sports subsidies. In addition to reviewing the empirical literature, we describe the economic intuition that probably underlies the strong consensus among economists against sports subsidies.

New contracts bring raises for Ann Arbor Public Schools employees

Source: Lauren Slagter, MLive, June 30, 2016

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the board amended its contract for custodial services with GCA Services Group, of Troy. The district entered into a three-year contract with GCA going into the 2014-15 school year when the board voted to privatize the services to save about $2 million. Changes to the agreement will cost an additional $1 million, which still puts the district’s annual savings at $750,000 compared to before hiring GCA, Swift said. The updated agreement will: raise the hourly wage for front line staff from $10 to $12; increase staffing by the equivalent of six full-time positions; increase the days of cleaning from 240 to 260 days a year; shift some general maintenance responsibilities to the school district’s maintenance staff; and refurbish or replace some custodial equipment. … Trustees Simone Lightfoot, Andy Thomas, Donna Lasinksi and Susan Baskett expressed their dissatisfaction with the work performed by GCA so far.


School custodians consider co-op to keep jobs  
Source: Associated Press, July 7, 2014

Custodians with Ann Arbor schools may form a worker-owned cooperative as part of an effort to keep their jobs if their work is outsourced by the district.  The custodians’ union AFSCME Local 1128 voted Saturday to pursue forming the cooperative. The district could contract with the co-op for custodial work without paying into the state retirement system for school employees…

Outsourced: Ann Arbor Public Schools hires private company for custodial work
Source: Amy Biolchini, mlive.com, June 12, 2014

The Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education approved hiring private company GCA Services to run its custodial services beginning July 1 at its regular meeting Wednesday night. ….. GCA Services is the same company that AAPS was considering initiating a contract with in 2010 for custodial work — but the AFSCME union agreed to an 8 percent wage cut to keep its contract in place. …. AAPS custodians, if selected by GCA, would be hired in at the top of their respective pay scales and would receive seamless healthcare coverage. Benefits with GCA also include dental, vision and life insurance, short-term disability and 401k plans.

Ann Arbor school custodians may form employee-owned co-op in attempt to save their jobs
Source: Amy Biolchini, mlive.com, June 10, 2014

Ann Arbor Public Schools custodians are pursuing an alternative solution in an attempt to save their jobs as district officials consider outsourcing their work to a private company. The custodians’ union, AFSCME Local 1128, voted Saturday to pursue forming a worker-owned cooperative, said President Rick Redding. School board President Deb Mexicotte said the board has not yet received a proposal from the union and had no knowledge of the vote. ….. Forming a co-op would allow the district to contract with the co-op for custodial work, but would mean the district would no longer have to pay into the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System. Each of the custodians would be a part-owner of the organization.

AAPS to seek bids for custodial work following school board vote
Source: Amy Biolchini, mlive.com, May 29, 2014

Ann Arbor Public Schools will be issuing a request for proposals this week for custodial services as the district seeks ways to cut its costs by outsourcing work. The Board of Education voted 7-0 Wednesday night to approve moving forward with the RFP. …

Ann Arbor school custodians express anger, frustration as district considers outsourcing jobs
Source: Amy Biolchini, mlive.com, May 28, 2014

Angered and frustrated, custodians from Ann Arbor Public Schools gathered for an emergency meeting Tuesday at Scarlett Middle School to figure out how to save their jobs. Members of the custodians union, AFSCME Local 1182, said they were surprised when the district announced to them last Wednesday that it was considering seeking a private company to do custodial work. The union has 114 members. … The union’s contract expires at the end of this fiscal year. Union representatives had entered the first day of scheduled negotiations last week and were presented with a request from the district for a pay freeze, members said Tuesday. On the second day of negotiations the district then said custodial services were being considered for privatization because of the potential savings of $1.8 million, members said. Hearns told the group of custodians that the move could be considered an unfair labor practice and that the union was pursuing action. In the spring of 2010 the district considered outsourcing its custodial services—but the union agreed to an 8 percent pay cut to keep their jobs. …

Mixed feelings about EMU privatizing dining services with Chartwells

Source: Drew Saunders, Eastern Echo, June 22, 2016

Half of the front row of the regent’s room seating was lined with union attendees holding “Stop Privatization” signs on their laps. The various unions across campus have been against privatization from day one. … The university claims that dining is not losing money, citing a $3 million surplus. Bunsis said that it did not make sense to privatize dining in that case. Loppnow did say after the meeting that the quality of dining was never in question, but the juggling of capital improvement costs meant it made sense to privatize dining, which would be a low priority, in order to focus on infrastructure improvements. … The Board of Regents made sure that Chartwells would retain the students dining employees as EMU students, and to maintain their pay and hours. But Bunsis claims that as soon as any of the students quit they will be replaced with Chartwells staff, furthering what Bunsis sees as an erosion of union power on campus. Bunsis has created an anti-privatization petition. As of publication, it has 929 signatures.


EMU Regents Raise Tuition, Approve Contract To Privatize Dining Services
Source: Amanda LeClaire, WEMI, June 22, 2016

Eastern Michigan University’s Board of Regents yesterday passed a budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1st. As part of the spending measure, the Regents approved a contract with food vendor Chartwells … About 70 protesters rallied outside EMU’s Welch Hall just before noon on Tuesday. The crowd, many of them EMU staff and union supporters, are critical of Regents for approving a ten year contract with privately-owned company Chartwells to provide dining services at the school. …

EMU approves 10-year deal with Chartwells, includes $5M signing bonus
Source: Martin Slagter, MLive, June 21, 2016

Eastern Michigan University’s Board of Regents finalized a decision to privatize its dining services, approving a 10-year contract with Chartwells Higher Education at its meeting Tuesday, June 21. The agreement results in significant capital investment in EMU’s dining facilities. It includes a $5 million signing bonus to EMU, $18 million in initial capital funding and $2.5 million for current graduate assistant scholarships. The university expects to realize $40 million over the life of the 10-year agreement. … The deal with Chartwells comes despite opposition from some students and faculty who worry switching to a privatized dining service will lead to higher meal costs for students and less secure employment statuses for current EMU dining service employees. EMU officials argue current dining service employees are not at risk of losing their jobs. Under the agreement, all current EMU dining employees will remain EMU employees, with salaries and benefits in accordance with current applicable collective bargaining agreements. The Board of Regents approved a ratified three-year contract with its American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 25 and Local 3866 unions, which includes 46 University Dining Services employees. …

Keeping union jobs worth $50M, protesters tell Eastern Michigan
Source: Greta Dreyer, Campus Reform, June 21, 2016

Protesters assembled at an Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents meeting Tuesday, demanding that the university forsake $50 million to keep its food service unionized. … The protest began at 11:00 a.m. outside of Welch Hall on EMU’s campus, where the monthly Board of Regents meeting was to be held. At the meeting, the Board was set to approve the privatization of food services on campus, which almost 75 percent of all other Michigan universities have done. Before the Board of Regents took a vote on the matter, EMU interim president Don Loppnow addressed the protesters’ concerns, pointing out that Eastern’s contract to privatize food services on campus will eventually have a $50 million financial benefit to the university, and assuring the crowd that the contract with outside food service provider Chartwells will not adversely affect student jobs on campus. …

EMU privatizes food service, hikes tuition 4.1%
Source: Kim Kozlowski, Detroit News, June 21, 2016

Changes are coming to Eastern Michigan University with an array of new food vendors such as Starbucks, Zingerman’s and Einstein Brothers Bagels —and possibly more students from outside Michigan and Ohio. The Board of Regents on Tuesday approved a controversial 10-year agreement with Chartwells Higher Education that will privatize the university’s food service as it offers more options in residential, retail and catering food services on campus. Regents also approved a 4.1 percent increase in tuition for 2016-17 while dangling an incentive for out-of-state residents: Starting this fall, all new students will pay the in-state rate. … The privatization of EMU’s food service, which takes effect July 1, generated vocal opposition. Chartwells agreed to pay a $5 million signing bonus to EMU, along with $18 million in initial capital funds. The new food service will include more use of technology and food trucks, among other changes. …

Protest Against Privatizing Eastern Michigan University Food Services Planned On Tuesday
Source: Amanda LeClaire, WEMU, June 21, 2016

The Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents will vote Tuesday on privatizing dining services with food vendor Chartwells. the move is part of the school’s overall budget for the news fiscal year that begins July 1st, which is to be adopted by the board at the meeting. … Critics of the plan also say student jobs and wages are likely to be cut by Chartwells. Robinson says details of the contract have not been completed or made public. …

EMU announces partnership with Chartwells to privatize dining services
Source: Martin Slagter, MLive, June 18, 2016

Eastern Michigan University plans to enter into a partnership with Chartwells Higher Education to provide its dining services in an agreement that could take effect on July 1. The agreement with Chartwells Higher Education to provide residential, retail and catering food services will be presented to the EMU Board of Regents Tuesday, June 21, at its regular meeting. … The announcement of the proposed agreement came three days after a variety of speakers voiced opposition to privatization on Tuesday, June 14, at EMU, in addition to releasing an online petition, urging the university and its Board of Regents not to privatize University Dining Services. … Eastern Michigan joins a variety of other Michigan public universities in working with an outside partner to run its dining services, including Central Michigan, Oakland, Wayne State and Grand Valley State universities.

EMU administrators recommend privatizing food service
Source: David Jesse, Detroit Free Press, June 18, 2016

Eastern Michigan University’s administration will recommend turning over the food service at the Ypsilanti school to a private company — Chartwells — at the Board of Regents meeting Tuesday. … EMU spokesman Geoff Larcom said financial terms of the deal would not be disclosed until Tuesday’s board meeting. The university has refused to discuss publicly how much money it hoped to save by making the move. However, the request for proposal documents show the school would like to see some sort of lump sum payment. That could help as a one-time boost to the university’s budget. Last year, Eastern raised tuition by 7.8%, in large part to help boost dwindling reserve funds. …

EMU heads toward privatizing dining services despite opposition
Source: Martin Slagter, MLive, June 14, 2016

One day after Eastern Michigan University announced a tentative contract agreement with its more than 200 skilled trades employees, groundskeepers, custodians and dining service employees, a group of students and workers expressed their concerns with the university’s pending decision to privatize its dining services. … The press conference comes a week before the university’s Board of Regents is expected to vote on the ratified three-year contract with its American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 25 and Local 3866 unions. EMU also is expected to announce its selection for a private administrative vendor during the June 21 meeting after sending out a request for proposals on April 25. … Privatizing University Dining Services eventually will jeopardize jobs of AFSCME workers long-term, being replaced by those hired by the vendor, said Professor Howard Bunsis, leading to “lower-paid, less-secure employees.” …

As EMU moves to privatize dining services, union workers worry
Source: Kate Wells, Michigan Radio, June 13, 2016

Union workers say they’re holding a press conference Tuesday at Eastern Michigan University to talk about their concerns over the school’s move to privatize dining services. In a letter to students and staff on Monday, interim EMU President Don Loppnow says an outside vendor will pay the school enough to “expand and upgrade the dining facilities while maintaining high-quality food offerings and services.” … But union members say they feel like the school’s request for proposals from vendors was rushed, and that the administration – which now says that union workers will be able to keep their jobs as EMU employees – has changed its story, after first telling workers they’d only be getting the right of refusal for dining service jobs. Jason Crispell is the president of AFSCME Local 3866, which represents food service and maintenance workers at EMU. He says even if the current workers are allowed to stay on as EMU employees, the private vendor will be able to fill any new or vacant jobs with private workers – and gradually erode the union’s bargaining power on campus. …

Eastern Michigan considering privatizing its dining services
Source: Martin Slagter, MLive, May 9, 2016

Eastern Michigan University is considering privatizing its dining services as it continues to collect bids through Friday. The deadline for the submission for bids is 5 p.m. Friday, according to a request for proposal from the university. … Future services provided by either a private service or the university would include all of the current Easter Eateries, six Eagles Cafes, the university commons, crossroads and student center as well as catering and concessions for its Division I athletics teams. … A campus message regarding the request for proposal stated that many universities in Michigan have moved to outside partners that specialize in dining services in order to provide the best value and highest quality dining options for their employees and students. A recent national review found that 74 percent of universities nationwide utilize a third party to provide food services, the message stated.

Lansing School District privatizes custodial, maintenance jobs

Source: RJ Wolcott, Lansing State Journal, June 17, 2016

The Lansing Board of Education voted Thursday night to privatize more than 100 custodial and maintenance jobs within the Lansing School District. The 7-1 vote was taken 10 months after SodexoMAGIC was initially recommended by the district’s administration. Trustee Guillermo Lopez cast the lone vote in opposition. Approximately 109 district employees are affected by the privatization of custodial and other facilities-related jobs, said Lucy Rensberry, chair of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council Local 1390. … The district will begin negotiations with SodexoMAGIC, a partnership between Sodexo Inc. and the Earvin “Magic” Johnson-owned Magic Johnson Enterprises next week, said Superintendent Yvonne Caamal Canul. The district has a three-tiered plan it will present to SodexoMAGIC on how to keep employees within three years of reaching their pension thresholds under the district’s payroll until they hit their milestones. … SodexoMAGIC promised a litany of benefits in its proposal, including giving $1 million toward 21st-century classrooms as well as $60,000 in grants and summer internships for students. The company also vowed to hire all existing staff at their previous salaries and seniority levels and spend $750,000 on updated equipment and vehicles. …


Privatizing custodians in Lansing schools up for vote Thursday
Source: RJ Wolcott, Lansing State Journal, June 14, 2016

Whether to privatize about 115 custodial and other facilities jobs in the Lansing School District is expected to be decided by the Lansing Board of Education on Thursday. It’s the second time in 10 months board members have been asked by the administration to approve SodexoMAGIC as the district’s facilities management company. … SodexoMAGIC was the highest bidder among those who provided cost estimates, but promised a litany of additional benefits. … SodexoMAGIC also promised to hire all current facilities staff while maintaining wages and seniority. It vowed to invest $750,000 toward improving facilities, including adding staff as well as updated equipment and vehicles. The move would allow the district to focus on education, removing the burden of hiring and training facilities staff, Spadafore added. Current district employees hired by SodexoMAGIC would lose their ability to contribute to the state pension system, a point of contention among staff, according to Dan Hamilton, staff representative for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 25. …

No vote taken on Lansing school’s privatization plan
Source: RJ Wolcott, Lansing State Journal, June 2, 2016

After spending more than 30 minutes discussing the possibility of privatizing custodial and other facilities services within the Lansing School District, Board of Education members chose not to vote on the issue Thursday evening. Several board members cited concerns about the administration’s recommendation to award a facilities management contract to SodexoMAGIC, including how third-party staff would be integrated into schools and what efforts would be made to accommodate current union staff approaching retirement. … The company promised to hire all current facilities staff, roughly 115 employees, and maintain their wages and seniority, and pay $750,000 toward improving infrastructure within the district as well as addition staffing, equipment and vehicles. Custodians and other facilities staff would lose access to state-sponsored pensions if they became SodexoMAGIC employees, according to Dan Hamilton, staff representative for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 25. Several staff members have nearly reached retirement age or their 30-year pension thresholds, and he hopes the district can work with the union to find a way to keep those employees under the district’s banners until they reach their milestones. …
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Republican Detroit Plan Invests Too Little, Fails to Regulate Out-of-Control Charter Sector

Source: Jan Resseger, National Education Policy Center, June 16, 2016

It seemed there was agreement in Michigan’s legislature about the need for some regulation of an out-of-control charter school sector, and the state senate had included in its plan a Detroit Education Commission whose purpose was to oversee the authorization and placement of charter schools in Detroit to ensure, for example, that schools remain available for children in all neighborhoods. … In a scathing critique of Michigan’s current politics, Jen Eyer of Vanguard Public Affairs describes what happened last week as the Michigan Legislature finally passed a Detroit plan that caved in to House Speaker Kevin Cotter his colleagues: “The Senate, to its great credit, worked for 15 months to craft and pass a bipartisan plan that had the support of (Mayor) Duggan and other elected officials in Detroit, as well as Gov. Rick Snyder.  House leaders, to their great shame, subsequently shut out their Detroit and Democratic colleagues and passed a package that none of the above stakeholder supported.  Critically missing from the House package was the creation of a Detroit Education Commission that would regulate the opening and closing of public and charter schools in the city.” … There are some other poison pills in the plan the legislature has sent to the governor:

  • Unlike any other school district in the state, Detroit will be permitted to hire uncertified school teachers.
  • The Washington Post‘s Emma Brown reports that the state will assign a letter grade every year for each school based on its students’ standardized test scores.  “Any school that gets an ‘F’ three years in a row must be closed, according to the bills, unless the closure would cause ‘unreasonable hardship’ for students.”
  • While a proposal to threaten collective bargaining itself did not make it into the final legislative package, salaries for newly-hired teachers will be set based on their job performance including their students’ standardized test scores.


Lawmakers deciding the future of Detroit schools accepted thousands from pro-charter DeVos family
Source: Allie Gross, Detroit Metro Times, May 17, 2016

While the 10 a.m. House Appropriations Committee meeting on Tuesday has been highlighted as the forum where 18 GOP representatives voted “no” on a motion for a forensic audit of the district, the meeting is in fact far more significant than a single vote. … Digging into the legislation, we can see why charter advocates may support the Putting Students First proposal for Detroit Public Schools. While it creates many limitations for the traditional public school district — penalties for striking teachers, 401k plans instead of pensions, and a push for uncertified teachers — the legislation does very little when it comes to regulating the proliferation of charter schools in the city. … Krieger points out that under the House and Senate plans local property tax dollars, typically earmarked for students (per-pupil funding), are getting redirected toward debt payment. While both plans allow the state to allocate up to $72 million a year toward covering any funding gap that is created by this redirection, the House plan caps this amount — which come from tobacco settlement proceeds — at $500 million; in other words, seven years. For Krieger, this time limit — which the Senate bill does not include — is like a ticking time bomb. … Kreiger’s reading of the House legislation may explain why charter advocates support the bills, but it doesn’t fully explain how the proposal came to be.  That comes from a different dataset: campaign contributions. More specifically,  contributions from the DeVos family, the heirs to the Amway fortune who include Richard ‘Dick’ DeVos, the GOP nominee in Michigan’s 2006 gubernatorial election. … Of the 18 GOP representatives, members of the DeVos family have donated more than $100,000 to just seven of them. …

Novi food service privatized in emotional decision

Source: Susan Bromley, Hometown Life, June 6, 2016

In an emotional decision, in which there were tears on both sides, the Novi Board of Education voted 5-2 last Thursday to privatize the district’s food service. … Mena, along with Board President George Kortlandt, Vice-President Bobbie Murphy, Secretary Tracey Cadwell, and Treasurer Dennis O’Connor voted in favor of contracting with Chartwells to provide food service for the 2016-17 school year, with options to extend the contract for the next four years. Trustees Paul Cook and Ann Glubzinski voted no. … Last month, Steve Barr, assistant superintendent of business and operations for the district, recommended Chartwells be contracted for all food service operations, with the primary reason being that remaining status quo or privatizing through attrition would still mean the district would have to take money from the general fund to subsidize food service in coming years, at a cost of roughly $200,000. In contrast, complete privatization through Chartwells gives the district a guaranteed uncapped return of $357,000, he said, a reduction in general fund costs and a food service fund balance estimated to grow to $303,313 by the end of the 2019-2020 school year. … The decision to outsource to Chartwells means that 36 current food service department employees will be laid-off by the school district within the next few weeks. The food service company has promised rights to first interviews to the district food service employees and any that are hired will be retained at their existing wage. …


Fighting for jobs: School workers rally against outsourcing
Source: Susan Bromley, Hometown Life, May 16, 2016

At 7 p.m., May 19, the Novi Board of Education will review bids from three private contractors as they consider whether to outsource its entire food service department at once, privatize gradually through attrition or leave things as is. … Danelle Gittus, director of communications for Oakland Schools provided a draft support services survey that shows out of 28 public school districts in the county, 17 of them are using private food service contractors, at least in part. That includes Novi. Although the food service staff is fighting to retain their jobs, the board took the first step by outsourcing food service management a few years ago to Chartwells. … Kasik, the Novi Food Service Employees Association president, currently represents 36 food service staff and has been a school district food service employee for 18 years. She cooks meals for fifth grade students at Novi Meadows Elementary School. … The highest paid food service employee in Novi Schools earns $18 per hour, she said, although the average for the 19 employees on the original pay schedule is about $13.90 per hour, while the average for the 17 employees on the new pay schedule is $9.83 per hour. …

Wayne County to sell wastewater treatment facility for $57.5 million

Source: Robert Snell, Crain’s Detroit, June 1, 2016

Wayne County tentatively agreed Wednesday to sell the state’s second-largest wastewater treatment facility for $57.5 million, money that will bolster the county’s finances and shift control to 13 suburban communities. After selling the Downriver Sewage Disposal System, Wayne County will use the money to fund the county’s pension system and free up cash for other county projects and services, county Executive Warren Evans said. The sale to the Downriver Utility Wastewater Authority must be approved by Wayne County commissioners. … Bolstering the county’s pension system, which was less than 50 percent funded last year, was a key goal of a consent agreement with the state approved last year that was also aimed at helping Wayne County avoid bankruptcy. An updated valuation of the pension system is underway; in 2014 there were $840.5 million in unfunded pension liabilities, according to the county. … The plant’s 50 employees will continue to work for the system during the transition to local control and be evaluated for continued employment, the county said. Final sale approval by the county, the DUWA governing body and each of the 13 communities could take up to four months.