Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The MEA Scholarship

If you have a student heading to a Michigan college or is currently enrolled in one, take time during winter break to check out this scholarship opportunity.

Go to
Select Grants & Awards, then MEA Scholarship.

A description of the scholarship is available as well as the scholarship application. The scholarship deadline is February 12, 2010.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Race to the Top??

Many of us are alarmed by the recent "Race to the Top" push by our state and national governments. Take a moment to check out the following websites:

One of the forms districts are being asked to sign has a letter attached from Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan. One portion of the letter reads "Because the USED had accelerated the application process for states, we cannot provide you all the details of the state's plan at this time . . . We understand that you will be taking a leap of faith with this agreement . . . " They're asking districts to sign a "contract" before knowing the details. Do you know a single lawyer on the planet that would encourage his client to do such a thing? Visit the websites. Be an informed educator!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Homecoming Parade Friday 4:45, Come On Out, KEA!

Once again we would love to have you come out and join us for the walk in the Homecoming Parade. Parade starts at 4:45 in Pinewood's Bus Lot. Bring a bag of candy to throw if you can, and join the fun. Kentwood parents and kids love to see us out there.

Pinewood Teacher Gets the Facts. Are You Outraged?

Carl Morris, 8th Grade Science Teacher at Pinewood, talked to State Senator Wayne Kuiper's office about the budget. He was was told that the State of Michigan spent $47.9 billion dollars in fiscal 2009, compared to $43.9 billion in 2008. the state budget went up 9.1%. the state spent 3% less on k-12 education.
Reviewing the facts:
2008 State Budget $43.9 Billion
2009 State Budget $47.9 Billion
Increase in State Budget +9.1%
Decrease in K-12 Spending - 3%

Call the Governor, Call your Rep and Senator! This DOES NOT MAKE SENSE!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Budget Cuts Loom, Contact your Legislators!

It is definitely a call to action, we need to let Lansing hear our voice that the political games involving education needs to end. Make sure you check out the facts and make the contact, because the effects on our schools will be devastating if the current proposals pass.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Problems With Speaker Dillon's Plan

From August 4, 2009

Concerns with Speaker Dillon’s Health Care Proposal include:


We do not believe Michigan should be initiating major changes in the structure of health care at a time when a national health care reform is among the highest priorities for President Obama and the United States Congress.

  • It makes more sense to see what transpires at the federal level and then determine what Michigan should do to take full advantage of any opportunities provided.


The information on local units of government is particularly questionable and we would like to see the data that supports the $880 million savings.

  • This plan will not reduce the 2010 fiscal budget year deficit.
  • The cost estimate of $15 - $20 million to administer health benefits for all school districts, community colleges, and local government employees and retirees as well as the other new and major responsibilities for the State Employer seems extremely low.
  • Given the large number of school districts, community colleges, and local employees, most of any savings that occur would accrue to these employers and not help the state with its budget deficit.
  • These employers, as well as the State of Michigan, (as an employer) are already seeing savings through benefit cuts and cost sharing, to the financial detriment of public employees.
  • The $400 - $600 million savings your plan estimates comes from reduced coverage and cost shifts.


The November 2008 HFA Study on "Civil Service Salary and Benefit Comparisons" is cited extensively on page 4 of the proposal; however, little notice was paid to the same report indicating the overall costs of state employee health care now falls below private sector health care costs.

  • As the report notes, starting in October 2008 state employees began to pay "more than double the amount paid in the previous year."

The Kaiser 2008 “Employer Health Benefit Survey” and Michigan State Benefit websites clearly show that Michigan active state employee benefit plans are about average when compared to state employee plans in the surrounding states.

  • A savings of $400 - $600 million cannot be realized by reducing Michigan public employees’ benefits levels to the average of the surrounding states, because they are already receiving average benefit levels as compared to surrounding states.


It is an inherent contradiction to speak of a single "portfolio of health care plans" while stating that the proposal will maintain the process of collective bargaining for public sector employees, whether they are covered under the Public Employees Relations Act, PA 312 or Civil Service rules.

  • As your report implies, there are thousands of different collective bargaining units across the state.
  • These cover a wide spectrum of employment responsibilities, some of which have intrinsic medical risks.
  • What kind of process could be envisioned to bargain with all of these bargaining units and their employers?


In many instances, public employers have had financial reasons for supporting the trade-offs between wages and benefits that occur.

  • Insurance costs, unlike salaries, are not subject to FICA and are not included in the compensation used to determine pensions.
  • Forcing employee health care costs into a "one size fits all" or even "several sizes fits some" mode will reduce the ability to make such tradeoffs, which have been helpful in preserving the relatively amicable labor relationships Michigan's public sector has enjoyed during the past decade.
  • Public sector employees have negotiated millions of dollars in concessions including unpaid furlough days and workforce reductions to protect their health care.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Your Health Care and Bargaining Rights Are Under Attack

MEA Votes E-Newsletter — July 17, 2009

Your health benefits and bargaining rights are under attack

If you haven't contacted House Speaker Andy Dillon and your state representative yet, what are you waiting for?

Regardless of the health care you've bargained with your school district, under Speaker Dillon's plan, you'll be bargaining with the state--they'll determine what benefits you should have.

You've already given enough! E-mail and phone Speaker Dillon and your representative NOW! See the Legislative Contacts on the left side of the Blog.

Also, include the following legislators in your lobbying efforts. Encourage them to withhold their support of Dillon's plan:

Rep. Pam Byrnes
Rep. Tim Melton
Rep. Mark Meadows
Rep. Kathy Angerer

Talking Points to consider.

Contact Dillon and your state representative immediately. Tell them:

  • This proposal is anti-school employee, anti-collective bargaining and anti-union.
  • The state isn't capable of managing the programs it has, as evidenced by the current economic and budget crisis in Michigan. How can it run a statewide health insurance pool?
  • Where are the savings Speaker Dillon expects coming from? How can we trust these numbers if the government can't even get the budget settled?
  • This program jeopardizes the health and security of all school employees and their families.
  • This proposal eliminates local control and destroys collective bargaining rights that school employees have had for generations.
  • As a school employee, I already pay for my benefits and I have given up salary and other benefits to save my school district and the state money. I already do my part in being fiscally responsible.
  • In addition to being a school employee, I am also a taxpayer. This plan doesn't save me any money as Dillon suggests. It simply shifts the cost to me.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Early Childhood Education Under Attack

Once again, education funding is at risk. Please read the email I received and act now!

Please sign by clicking on "petition" and forward this to friends. It may help save our preschool funding. THANK YOU!

Action Alert

July 7, 2009

Dear Early Childhood Advocate,

Dramatic cuts to critical early childhood programs are under final discussion in the state legislature. All state funded preschool and parent education programs have been eliminated in a bill recently passed by the state Senate in Lansing. If the Michigan House concurs with the Senate and the Governor signs it into law, the future of young children and all of us involved in early childhood programs are at risk. We must act now to make sure that these proven, cost effective programs continue.

Join others who believe that early childhood programs need continued funding. Complete the petition by 2:00 PM Monday, July 13, 2009 or go to Each legislator will receive a copy of the petition and a list of those signing it.

You can also call your legislators by dialing (517) 373-0135 to speak to your senator or (517) 373-0135 to speak to your representative. To find your State Representative and his/her mailing address and email address, go to . To find your State Senator and his/her mailing address and email address, go to .

Legislators will be in their home districts and will return to session July 14, 2009.
Please email this petition to your friends, families, and community members. The legislature needs to know that many people care about these programs. For further information, please visit the Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children website at or call the office at 1-800-336-6424. Thank you for supporting young children!


Tammy Arakenlian
Public Policy Chair
4572 S. Hagadorn Rd. Ste 1D
East Lansing, MI 48823-5385
Fax: 517-336-9790
Phone: 517-336-9700

Friday, June 19, 2009

Michigan Businesses Supporting Kentwood Teachers

This summer, four Kentwood teachers are attending the National Education Association Representative Assembly in San Diego, California. Julie Brill from Meadowlawn and Deb Irvin, formerly from Hamilton, are both attending as MEA Board members. Denise Saganski, formerly from Bowen, and Michelle Thomas from Glenwood are attending as representatives of Kentwood. Julie, Denise, and Michelle are also serving as liaisons to other states. Julie Brill is a liaison to Alaska, Denise is a liaison to North Dakota, and Michelle is a liaison to West Virginia.

It is tradition for the Michigan liaisons to present gifts proudly produced in our fair state. Julie, Denise, and Michelle sent out letters requesting Michigan businesses to consider donating an item or two from their product lines. The businesses below all donated items.

Please review the list and purchase items from these Michigan businesses that support teachers. ( :

Sleeping Bear Press
Al Dente Pasta Company
The Blueberry Store
Purity Foods
Rudy Spice (Gemignani's Italian Restaurant)
Old Europe Cheese Company

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Claiming Unemployment Benefits in Michigan

How to file a claim for unemployment benefits
A claim begins the week it is filed. Therefore, you should file your claim during your first week of unemployment. There are two ways to file a new claim or reopen an existing claim:
1. telephone - 1-866-500-0017 Your scheduled time for filing by telephone is based on the last two digits of your social security number.

Mon. 8:00 am to 12:30 pm 00-15
Mon. 12:30 pm to 4:30 pm 16-33
Tues. 8:00 am to 12:30 pm 34-48
Tues. 12:30 pm to 4:30 pm 49-66
Wed. 8:00 am to 12:30 pm 67-81
Wed. 12:30 pm to 4:30 pm 82-99
Thurs. and Fri. Open Call-In

2. internet -
The website is available from 7:00 am Monday through 7:00 pm Saturday.

Once you file a new claim, you will be mailed:
  • a determination showing if you qualify based on the wages you have earned, the amount of weekly benefits and the number of weeks you may receive
  • if there is an eligibility issue with your claim, you will receive a separate notice
  • a booklet with detailed information about your rights and responsibilities for unemployment benefits - read the materials carefully.

There is much more information about claiming unemployment benefits in Michgian. Visit the website listed above for general information. If you have any questions or problems with your telephone or internet-filed claim, you can inquire about the claim by calling 1-866-500-0017 and selecting Option 3. This is a toll-free number open weekdays from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm. There are also problem resolution offices in Gaylord, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Livonia, Marquette and Saginaw for in-person assistance with any problem you have with your claim (see website for locations).

Please note that members of the Kentwood Education Association are not experts on unemployment. This information is provided only as general information and should not be taken as advice, recommendations, or expert information on the topic.

Information above taken from Fact Sheet #36, January 2008, Claiming Unemployment Benefits in Michigan, State of Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth, Unemployment Insurance Agency

Jenison ESP

Unfortunately, like too many other districts across the state, Jenison Public Schools decided to privatize their custodians. Julie Brill, Deb Irvin, Denise Saganski, and I attended the JPS Board meeting to show support for our fellow educators and support staff. We listened to the various custodians speak about being born and raised in Jenison, graduating from Jenison Public Schools, and working for Jenison Public Schools. Some of the custodians had been working for the district for 30+ years. In the most disrespectful way, the custodians were notified of their termination on Friday, June 5, their last day of school. They were not given an opportunity to bargain. And they had even been previously told that privatization was not being considered. The reason the custodians were given for their termination: necessary budget cuts. What we don't understand is why they feel it necessary to eliminate custodians now when there is still uncertainty about how much their district will receive from the national stimulus package. That money may be substantial. In addition, this district has a 17% fund equity - yes, I said 17% !!!! (over 7.3 million dollars)

What also concerns us is the affect privatizing has on students, staff, and the community. Typically, custodial staff from large companies are low-wage earners, which ultimately results in a high-turnover rate. Do we really want any school in America to be a revolving door for random, unknown workers? Is that who we want interacting with our children on a daily basis? Will they interact with our children? Will they interact appropriately? Will this revolving door of workers be willing to go the extra mile for their schools, staff and students like district-employed custodians do? Why would they if they have no ties to the school or the community? In most districts, the support staff live in the school district they work in, raise children in that district and send them to the districts' schools, spend money and volunteer in the community of that school district. They take pride in the school district because they have a stake in it as community members and taxpayers. What Jenison Public Schools has done will greatly affect the students, staff, schools, and the community. Was it really necessary?

Now, many of you reading this may wonder, "Why should Kentwood employees care what happens in other districts?" While our district has also said they are not currently considering privatization, we must be aware that superintendents talk and share ideas. If it can happen in Jenison, it can happen in Kentwood. So we must speak loudly and clearly that we value our support staff. We value the jobs they do in our schools. We value the relationships they build with staff and students. We value them as community members and taxpayers. WE VALUE THEM!

submitted by Michelle Thomas

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

MEA Budget Bit #9

2009 #9 Information Technology

The Information Technology (IT) Department accounts for $2,336,412 or 3.07% of MEA’s budget. The department staff includes two supervisors and four support staff.

The role of the IT department is to provide leader internet services, including training assistance to members and locals that wish to set up their own web pages. MEA’s internet and secure intranet services are provided by IT, as is making sure our computers and software are up-to-date and functional.

The programmer-analysts in the department create and design many internal resources for staff, leaders and members. They also work with the Finance/Membership Department in making the best use of the Avectra Membership system.

Some of the IT staff provide training for MEA staff ; you will also see some of them at MEA conferences providing training to members on publishing newsletters and using Microsoft Word, Excel and Publisher.

Peggy McLellan
Michigan Education Association
(800) 292-1934 x 5500

MEA Budget Bit #8

2009 #8 Uniserv/Field Services

The Uniserv/Field Services Department accounts for $4,824,574 or 7.66% of the 2009-2010 MEA Budget. Its headquarters personnel include one director, one administrative assistant, eight professional staff and five support staff.

The Field Services department manages all UniServ (zones), Professional Development/Human Rights, as well as services to Higher Ed and ESP members. It includes funding for the Supplemental Negotiations Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides temporary staff for bargaining and financial analysis to the locals.

The Minority and Women’s Intern Program, coordinating council subsidies, and Student MEA are all funded and coordinated through Field Services, as are the Bargaining/Political Action/ Public Relations Conference, ESP Conference and Higher Ed Bargaining Conference.
The Field Services department provides research and negotiations support to UniServ field staff and local leaders. In addition, all of MEA’s organizing efforts are coordinated in this department. All NEA grants are administered in Field Services as well.

Direct service to members is provided by the Field Services division through the four zones. The zones account for over half of MEA’s budget.

The Central Zone comprises all or parts of Regions 8, 10, 11 and 12. It accounts for $9,544,016 or 12.55% of the 2009-2010 MEA Budget. Its staff includes one zone director, 27 UniServ directors and 19 support staff.

The Eastern Zone is made up of all or parts of Regions 2, 6 and 7. It accounts for $11,981,454 or 15.76% of budget. The staff includes one zone director, 34 UniServ directors and 24 support staff.

The Northern Zone includes all or parts of regions 9, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18. It accounts for $7,555,905 or 9.94% of MEA’s budget. Its staff includes one zone director, 21 UniServ directors and 15 support staff.

The Southern Zone is made up of to all or parts of regions 3, 4, 5 and 9. It accounts for $11,832,717 or 15.56% of the total budget. Its staff includes one zone director, 36 UniServ directors and 21 support staff.

Peggy McLellan
Michigan Education Association
(800) 292-1934 x 5500

Saturday, May 23, 2009

MEA Recommended Bargaining Goals

MEA Recommended Bargaining Goals for MEA Locals Bargaining between April 1, 2009 and March 31, 2010

Every contract should include as the highest priorities:

Sustained Growth in Compensation:

  • Extra pay for extra work
  • Comparable pay for work for comparable value
  • Sufficient salary/wage improvement to prevent loss in employee spending power for all EA, ESP, and Higher Education locals
  • Timely progress toward “40-80 in 10” for teachers. At least $40,000 starting teacher salary and at least $80,000 salary at the 10th step or less of the MA column. Fair and equitable increases that are timely and will increase the quality of life for ESP members
  • ESP benefits: same fully paid fringe benefit package as EA unit
  • Definition of per diem pay, the work day and the work year
  • Maintain or improve the number of work hours and work days in the year for ESP
  • All lump sum payments upon retirement from the school district shall be paid as direct employer contributions to the employee’s 403(b) account through MEA-FS

Quality Fringe Benefits:

  • MESSA as the insurance carrier
  • 100 percent employer-paid full-family health coverage (no cap on the insurance premium), including coverage for other qualified adults and their eligible dependent children
  • The priority for bargaining fringe benefits into each contract should be:
    1st priority – MESSA Health Insurance
    2nd priority – MESSA Long Term Disability Insurance
    3rd priority – MESSA Life Insurance
    4th priority – MESSA Dental Insurance
    5th priority – MESSA Vision Insurance
  • High deductible non-MESSA health plan connected to a Health Savings Account (HAS) or a Health Reimbursement Account (HRA) is a cost shift to employees and is not a substitute for all or any part of an insurance plan

No Rollbacks:

  • Contract talks should include no rollbacks

In addition, every contract should include:

  • Non-discriminatory language
  • Access to all MEA-FS products through the payroll services of the school district
  • Just cause and progressive discipline for every employee
  • Binding grievance arbitration of contractual matters including evaluation, discipline and discharge
  • Exclusive reservation of bargaining unit work for bargaining unit members
  • Fully paid release time for Association business
  • Provisions defining seniority with layoff & recall seniority and vacant positions filled by seniority
  • Agency shop
  • A defined evaluation process that includes:
    1. The evaluation instrument (form)
    2. The identification of the criteria that will be used to evaluate the employee
    3. A requirement of state whether the employee is “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory”
    4. A requirement that if the employee is identified as unsatisfactory, the reasons for being unsatisfactory will be stated in writing along with a written statement of what the employee must do to become satisfactory, what assistance the administration will provide to the employee to become satisfactory and how long the employee will be allowed in order to become satisfactory.
  • Member protections in connection with ESEA restructuring, highly qualified rules and regulations, and any forthcoming changes in curriculum and graduation standards
  • Quality professional development designed by members and paid for by the employer. Employees will be paid for attendance when professional development occurs outside the school day.
  • Provisions ensuring that members perform and are compensated for all supplementary services

    Recommended by the MEA’s Long Range Bargaining Committee (LRBC), the Staff Bargaining Strategy and Implementation Team (SBSIT)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Upcoming Meeting

KEA Membership Meeting
Where: EKHS Auditorium
When: Monday, June 1
Times: 2:45 p.m. or 4:00(ish) p.m.

Choose the time most convenient for you to attend.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Reduction in Staff Q and A

Question: How does the recall process work and when does it begin?
Answer: The recall process has no set beginning or end, if it occurs at all. The Administration is under no contractual obligation to start recalling by a certain date or to stop by a certain date. If they do recall pink slipped employees, they must start at the top of the recall list (the most senior person who is highly qualified for the position).

Question: If a person gets hired into another district throughout the summer, do they remain on the seniority list so they could still get a call back? (I am assuming this questions comes from the fact that person would like to still be here if possible.)
Answer: Yes, you will remain on the call back list (more information below on the call back list) for the required time (explained below) or until you decline Kentwood's call back.

When do my benefits end if I do not get recalled?
Answer: Our contract ends on August 31, 2009, so that is when your benefits would end if you are not recalled.

Do you get compensated for your sick days when you are pink-slipped?
Answer: No, pink slipped teachers do not get compensated for their sick days. On page 16 of our contract, unused accumulated sick leave is only paid upon the severance of a teacher who has taught 10 or more years, and those teachers only receive compensation if they have 25 or more sick days.

Question: If a pink slippee accepts a position as an Intervention teacher / or Para-pro, would they be released if a qualifying job arose? Answer to be posted shortly. (APS)

If I am pink slipped, by what date do I need to have my personal items removed from my classroom?
Answer: If you do not get recalled, your personal items need to be removed by the first day of school, September 8. At this point, just prepare your room as you would normally for the end of the school year.

Question: If I collect unemployment and get recalled, do I have to pay the District back?
Answer: According to our contract page 49, "Any teacher who collects unemployment compensation during the summer months and who is recalled as a teacher by August 1, shall reimburse the District the amount of benefits through payroll deduction or direct payment to the District". Also, you may face a tax liability if you take unemployment and have to pay the district back!
Suggestion: If you decide to collect unemployment, place that money into a separate account that remains untouched until you know it is yours to spend.

Question: When can the pink slipped staff begin to collect unemployment, etc.?
Answer: According to the pink slip letter you received from Administration, the effective layoff date is June 5. If you choose to file for unemployment, keep that date in mind. Also, check out the state's website identifying requirements to qualify. There is a lot of information for you to read (more than what will fit here!!). Don't forget that to read the question and answer above about repaying unemployment!!

Question: With a one year contract that is up and not being renewed...Do you know if I would be eligible for unemployment?
Answer: Check the website listed above to see what is necessary to qualify for unemployment.

Question: How long do I remain on the District's recall list if I do not get recalled this year? When is the start date for that period of time?
Answer: The recall list shall be maintained by the Board for three full school years or a period equivalent to the individual teacher's accumulated seniority, whichever is greater (contract page 50). So, for example, if you are pink slipped this spring , your name will remain on the recall list for the next 3 full years: the '09-'10 school year, '10-'11 school year, and '11-'12 school year.

Question: How does pink slipping work if I share the same hire date with others?
Answer: Seniority is based first on starting date, second on Board confirmation date, and third on the date on which the written contract was signed. So if you share a starting date, then the Board confirmation date is looked at. If you share a starting date and Board confirmation date, then the date of the signed contract is looked at. If you share all three of those criteria with other people, then your names are put into a drawing and pulled to determine "seniority". If callbacks occur, the most senior person with the qualifications for the open position will be called back first and then on down to the least senior person for jobs in which that person is qualified (refer to page 48 of our contract).


Question: While I haven't been pink slipped, my position has been eliminated. Do I have "bumping rights"?

Answer: "Bumping rights" means that an employee whose position has been eliminated can choose to push (bump) a less senior person out of a desired position. Kentwood does not have bumping rights for its employees. Your seniority gives you a position in the district, but the Administration chooses where to place you. So if your position has been eliminated, yet you have enough seniority that you are not receiving a pink slip, the Administration will determine a placement for you. You may make a request for placement, but the Administration does not have to honor that request (see contract pages 23-24).


Question: I opted for 26 pays. If I am pink slipped, do I still get my 26 paychecks?

Answer: Yes, you still get all 26 paychecks. The paychecks teachers receive during the summer are deferred money from paychecks during the school year. Money is taken from each paycheck during the school year and set aside so teachers can receive paychecks during the summer.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

MEA Budget Bit #7

2009 #7 Finance/Membership

The MEA Finance/Membership Department accounts for 7.77%, or $5,903,585 of the 2009-2010 MEA Budget. The department is staffed by a director, two controllers (one for MEA and one for MESSA), four supervisors and twenty support staff.

The Finance department manages all of the financial operations of MEA, MESSA and MEA Financial Services. Among its duties are preparing all information for the audits of the three companies as well as the agency shop audit, all of the IRS filings and all reports to the Department of Labor. The department also manages payroll for over 900 people, as well as fringe benefits for over 1100 current and retired employees.

Another duty of the Finance/Membership department is managing the accounting for the investment portfolios of MEA, MESSA, MEA Financial Services, the Staff Retirement Plan, retiree health, MEA-Retired, the Building and Site Fund, CAP Fund, Citizens for Education, PAC, the MEA Scholarship Fund and the Emergency Fund.

The department provides training to locals in the areas of accounting practices and fraud prevention and provides services to locals that request fraud investigations. Finance staff members also participate in staff bargaining, providing financial information to the bargaining teams.

The Membership Department manages the membership software system and provides training and support for Local Membership Chairs. The department manages MEA and NEA dues collection and assists with the MEA RA, providing credentials for delegates and support for the Credentials Committee in handling requests for waivers to the 60-day dues policy.

The Finance/Membership Department is also responsible for the “nuts and bolts” of running a business, such as insurance, utility payments, building maintenance costs, and banking fees.

Peggy McLellan
Michigan Education Association
(800) 292-1934 x 5500

MEA Budget Bits # 5 & #6

2009 #5 Government Affairs

The MEA Government Affairs Department accounts for $3,459,039, or 4.55% of the 2009-2010 MEA Budget. The staff of the department consists of one director, six professional staff (four lobbyists, one retirement consultant and one campaign consultant) and five support staff.

The work of the Government Affairs Department includes lobbying government officials on matters related to public education, collective bargaining, and the wages, benefits and working conditions of public school employees. The department also provides opportunities and training to help MEA members get involved in electing and lobbying their elected officials.

The Government Affairs Department is also responsible for managing the MEA Political Action Committee, which raises funds to help elect friends of public education across the state.

2009 #6 Professional Development/Human Rights

The MEA Professional Development/Human Rights (PD/HR) Department, a division of the Field Services Department, accounts for 3.28%, or $2,491,219 of the 2009-2010 MEA Budget. The PD/HR department provides support services to local leaders, as well as to UniServ staff, in all areas of professional development, including compliance issues related to No Child Left Behind, such as Highly Qualified Teachers, Support Staff Certification and Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).

The department also provides funding for shared professional development and human rights projects in local districts. In addition, assistance and resources related to special education, certification and critical incidents training are available.

The PD/HR staff is responsible for planning and putting on MEA’s various professional development conferences, including the Instruction and Professional Development Conference, Summer Leadership Conference, Women’s Leadership Training and Social Justice Institute.

Peggy McLellan
Michigan Education Association
(800) 292-1934 x 5500

Saturday, April 25, 2009

MEA Budget Bit #4

2009 #4 Communication Services

The MEA Communication Services Department accounts for 5.44%, or $4,135,963 of the 2009-2010 budget. The staff in the department includes one director, two supervisors, three professional staff and 15 support staff.

The job of the Communications Department is to manage the flow of information about MEA to members and to audiences outside the organization. Members are kept informed through the MEA Voice magazine and Voice Online e-newsletter, frequently updated articles on, and some new social media technologies such as Facebook. In addition, e-mail updates and news releases are sent out to local leaders several times a week.

Regular news releases highlighting MEA activities or positions also go out to the media around the state, as do radio, TV and print ads. MEA has a monthly radio show on WJR in Detroit; the show is also carried by a number of stations around the state. If you drive the highways of Michigan, you’ve seen numerous billboards touting positive messages about MEA and public education.
The Communications Department provides public relations advice and training to MEA and its local affiliates to improve public images and manage crisis situations. Also within the department is the Creative Projects Team that designs, prints and distributes a wide range of materials for locals and the statewide organization.

Peggy McLellan
Michigan Education Association
(800) 292-1934 x 5500

MEA Budget Bit #3

2009 #3 Human Resources

The Human Resources Department (HR) accounts for $1,956,232, or 2.57% of the 2009-2010 MEA budget. Employees in this department include two directors, four administrative assistants and two support staff.

One job of the Human Resources Department is to represent MEA, MESSA and MEA Financial Services in bargaining with the staff unions, as well as maintaining staff contracts and supervising employment-related litigation. All grievances and arbitrations are handled by the HR Department; in addition, HR hires any actuaries and consultants who provide information for bargaining.

The Human Resources department is also responsible for all recruiting, hiring and testing of employees, as well as providing orientation for new employees. Staff members who take work-related classes receive their tuition reimbursement through HR.

The Minority & Women’s Intern Program and the UniServ Pre-Employment Intern Program have traditionally been managed by the HR department; beginning with the 2009-2010 budget year these programs will become part of the Field Services Department because these interns do UniServ work and are supervised in the field by UniServ managers.

Finally, the HR department provides training and development programs for MEA, MESSA and MEA Financial Services staffs and plans occasional special events for the staffs of the three companies.

Please feel free to call or write if you have questions.

Peggy McLellan
Michigan Education Association
(800) 292-1934 x 5500

MEA Budget Bit #2

2009 #2 Legal Services

The MEA Legal Services Department accounts for 6.67%, or $5,071,367 of the total MEA 2009-2010 budget.

The staff of the Legal Services Department consists of five attorneys, three support staff, one administrative assistant, and the MEA General Counsel, who manages the department and represents MEA as an organization in legal proceedings.

The staff attorneys provide representation to local affiliates and their members in any employment-related disputes (tenure cases or violation of due process, for example), and they give legal advice and assistance to UniServ Directors in grievance processing, arbitrations, employee representation, and collective bargaining. The department also provides legal training and updates to staff, local leaders and members.

The association liability insurance that protects affiliates in the case of embezzlement or fraud by leaders or staff is administered through the Legal Services Department.

The MEA Legal Services Department does not represent members in non-work related traffic violations or criminal offenses. However, some limited reimbursement of approved legal fees may be provided in the case of traffic offenses or criminal activity alleged to have occurred in the workplace or during the course of the member’s work day.

Please call or write if you have questions.

Peggy McLellan
Michigan Education Association
(800) 292-1934 x 5500

MEA Budget Bit #1

2009, #1 Executive Office

Since some of our members often wonder what they get for their dues dollars, I’ve decided that this year’s Budget Bits will focus on the various departments at MEA and the services they provide. The first of the departments I’ll detail is the Executive Office, which accounts for 5.18% of the 2009-2010 MEA Budget, or $3,934,405. The Executive Office department comprises all of the governance operations of MEA. Let’s break it down a little.

The Executive Office budget funds the MEA Board of Directors and the MEA Executive Committee (the officers plus a group of 6 members elected by and from the MEA Board that hear legal appeals and act as the personnel committee; their decisions are subject to review by the MEA Board). Funding includes travel costs, loss-of-time and/or substitute costs, and meals for 6 meetings of each body per year.

The MEA Fall and Spring Representative Assemblies, as well as the NEA RA, are also funded out of this department. That includes the lodging, travel, meals and loss-of-time/substitute costs for around 600 RA delegates, in addition to rental of the Lansing Center and costs of printing and mailing RA documents.

All MEA Commissions, Committees and Task Forces are funded out of the Executive Office. This includes mileage, meals and lodging for members of 17 standing committees and various ad hoc committees. The Board of Reference, a panel of MEA members who render decisions on disputes within local associations, is also covered by the Executive Office budget.

The Executive Office is where affiliations with pro-education think tanks and alliances are funded. Membership dues for the National Council of State Education Associations, an organization that provides training for state association leaders, come from here as well.

Building Full Capacity Locals, a program that provides training for local leaders on a variety of topics, is now a part of the Executive Office; prior to this BFCL was part of the Field Services Department.

The Executive Office budget also pays the salary of the president of the United Staff Organization, the union that represents all of MEA’s professional and associate staff. The USO president is comparable to a full-time release local president whose salary is paid by his/her school board.

And yes, there is an actual place called the Executive Office; it’s home base for the three officers, the executive director and four administrative assistants. And while those four assistants do provide support for the officers and exec, they also handle all expense vouchers from the MEA Board, the Executive Committee, and the MEA and NEA RA’s; they plan and make arrangements for the MEA and NEA RA’s as well as the NEA Midwest Leadership Conference; and they coordinate all region elections and region council subsidies.

Please feel free to call or write if you have any questions.

Peggy McLellan
Michigan Education Association
(800) 292-1934 x 5500

Saturday, March 28, 2009

County Salary Comparisons

As published by the Kent County Education Association, Kentwood's salary comparisons for 2008/2009 are shown below. 21 districts are compared, listed in order from greatest to least. Our ranking is listed in our place from the top pay. Example: 11th means there are 10 other districts ranked above us in pay for that step and degree.

Kentwood's Rankings
BA Step 1 - 17 th
BA Step 5 - 13th
BA Step 10 - listed at 13th but due to step freeze the amount should be less and the ranking should be 17th
BA Step 15 - 12th
BA Step 20 - 18th
BA Step 25 - 19th
BA Max - 20th

BA Plus Step 1 - 16th
BA Plus Step 5 - 14th
BA Plus Step 10 - listed as 13th but due to step freeze the amount should be less and ranking should be 19th
BA Plus Step 15 - listed as 15th but due to step freeze the amount should be less and the ranking should be 14th
BA Plus Step 20 - listed as 15th but due to step freeze the amount should be less; ranking remains the same
BA Plus Step 25 - listed as 15th but due to step freeze the amount should be less; ranking remains the same
BA Plus Step Max - 19th

MA Step 1 - 15th
MA Step 5 - 13th
MA Step 10 - listed as 13th but due to step freeze the amount should be less and the ranking should be 17th
MA Step 15 - listed as 12th but due to step freeze the amount should be less and the ranking should be 13th
MA Step 20 - listed as 12th but due to step freeze the amount should be less and the ranking should be 15th
MA Step 25 - listed as 15th but due to step freeze the amound should be less; ranking remains the same
MA Max - 17th

MA +30 Step 1 - 15th
MA +30 Step 5 - 17th
MA +30 Step 10 - listed as 16th but due to step freeze the amount should be less and the ranking should be 19th
MA +30 Step 15 - listed as 16th but due to step freeze the amount should be less and the ranking should be 17th
MA +30 Step 20 - listed as 14th but due to step freeze the amount should be less and the ranking should be 16th
MA +30 Step 25 - listed as 12th but due to step freeze the amount should be less and the 14th
MA +30 Step Max - 17th

Monday, March 23, 2009

Composite "Lifetime" Earnings

To the left is a chart depicting the "lifetime" earnings of teachers in area districts. Please note a few things on this chart. First, lifetime earnings were figured based on the 2007-2008 salary schedules of the districts listed. Second, the numbers were calculated based on 4 years at BA, 4 years at BA+ and 22 years at MA. Finally, please remember that due to a step freeze, the "lifetime" earnings for many Kentwood educators will be lower than listed in the chart.

Note: The chart was prepared by Gezelle Oliver, Uniserv Director with the assistance of Michelle Woznicki, Field Assistant, for the Kent County Education.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Lansing Legislative Update

There are several pieces of legislation that are coming up for a vote shortly. Please let your legislators know you are there!!!! See their names to the left? Click, write, and send!

The first is the HB 4285 and SB 0255. These bills would change the calculations for retirees to .0 2 % from the .015 % that it is currently. Now this may sound like a new proposal, but there is a precedent, as they did this before in 2002. The legislators need to hear from you about this proposal. Only 60 % of the people who could retire, did so at the last raising of the calculator. This could mean hundreds of positions opening up for many new teachers. They would not have to go out of state to acquire a job that Michigan trained them for. We have states coming to MI to recruit our young people, why not keep them here and have them buy homes, cars, and send their kids to schools in MI. Help spur our economy.

Secondly: Brian Calley, has proposed legislation to change the Merit Curriculum as it was passed. He wants them to ease up the requirements so that more students will be able to graduate. New figures from Lansing are stating that over 35 to 40 % of the state's seniors in 2011 will not graduate as the Merit Curriculum stands now. He is not trying to "dummy down" the curriculum, just to adjust it so that more students can actually graduate rather than obtain a certificate of attendance. He also feels that many programs that would benefit students are being eliminated in order to meet the new requirements, that were passed in haste.

Let your legislators know how you feel, let them know you care about some of these topics.

J. Hewitt, KEA Political Action Chair

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Contacting Your State Government

Take a look at the links on the left.
Contacting your legislator is as easy as a click away!
Find your district, click the link and take part in your government by expressing your opinions!
We do remind you to be concise, polite, and express your views to your government official by giving them information that will help educate them about the issues that affect your job.

They do like to hear from us, so click and type today! But please, your voice is more effective coming from home, so send your thoughts from there.

VRI: Voluntary Resignation Incentive Plan

Dear KEA Members,
At the Kentwood School Board meeting Monday night March 9, Kentwood Public Schools and the Board of Education adopted a Voluntary Resignation Incentive Plan (formerly known as an Early Retirement Incentive) with the approval of the Kentwood Education Association. Prior to approval, KEA's Bargaining Team met and discussed the proposal. The Team brought up many important points and valuable questions. With the help of Mike Zoerhoff, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, those points were heard and questions answered. After meeting with Mike and having discussed the proposal with our Team, Dan Magennis and I offered approval of the Voluntary Resignation Incentive Plan.

If you would like more information on the package, please check your Groupwise email for the specifics in an attachment that was sent to you, and we will let you know when we will have a question and answer meeting.

Michelle Thomas, KEA Bargaining Chair

Monday, March 2, 2009

Kent County Contract Settlements for 2009-2010

As bargaining "season" begins, many are wondering about the contract settlements for other districts in Kent County. There are several districts that have their 2009-2010 contract determined already. Below is a listing of area districts and their wage settlements. Please keep in mind that these percentages are not always completely on the pay schedule. Sometimes percentages are a combination of pay and other benefits. For example, it is generally considered that a day taken off the calendar year roughly equals .5%. So a district may have a settlement of 2%, but only 1.5% was added to the pay schedule and the other .5% was a day taken off the calendar year. With that in mind, here are the districts and their percentage increases for the 09-10 calendar year:

Byron Center EA 2.0%
Byron Center ESP 2.0%
Cedar Springs EA 1.95%
Comstock Park EA 2.5%
Comstock Park ESP 2.5%
East Grand Rapids EA 2.0%
East Grand Rapids ESP 1.75%
Forest Hills EA 2.0%
Forest Hills ESP 1.75%
Godfrey-Lee EA 1.75%
Godfrey-Lee ESP 2.5%
Grandville EA 2.5%
Grandville ESP 2.5%
Kelloggsville EA 2.5%
Kelloggsville ESP 2.5%
KISD EA 2.5%
Lowell EA 2.0%
Lowell ESP 2.37%
Sparta EA 2.0%
Sparta ESP 2.0%
Wyoming EA 2.5%
Wyoming ESP 2.5%

Posted by Michelle Thomas, Chief Negotiator

Thursday, February 26, 2009

PAC News

Last night at the Region 9 PAC Meeting (Political Action Committee) we heard there is a lot of opposition to the retirement incentive bill from the retired MEA members. They were able to defeat Proposal 5 because they didn't like it and they may do the same here. We encourage you to contact your legislators and ask them to support this measure. The Senate bill was introduced on Thursday of last week and it was sent to the education committee.
See the link below to get in contact with your state legislators.

There is not much new legislation news at this time, just some democratic caucuses.

I asked them about President Obama's stand on charter schools, and our opposition to them. The speaker said that where Obama came from, they were more like alternatives to Christian or Parochial schools. I think that they are just covering for the fact that their candidate is in favor of charter schools.

Jeanne Hewitt: KEA PAC Chair

Does America Need Labor Unions

There is a national poll on Parade Magazine entitled, "Does America Still
Need Labor Unions"? We encourage you to take a moment and vote. You can find the Poll at:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

UpComing Events

Stay tuned for these upcoming events.
1. Online voting for Region 9 Officers. We are going paperless and your AR will help you make it happen.

2. KEA Shirt Logo Contest: Your AR will put flier in your box. Are you creative and have design talent, prizes will be involved. Check it out! Contest only open to KEA members.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Did You Know? Tenure, Certification, Crimes and Medical Insurance

Did you know that if you are a tenured teacher and you let your certificate expire,you are NOT protected under the Tenure Act? Once you re-validate your certificate you are again covered.

Did you know you MUST report within 3 calender days to your district superintendent and the state superintendent if you have been charged with a crime? Failure to do so can result in dismissal.

Did you know that if you are laid off you are still provided with medical coverage for a period of time? The following chart will help you determine the length of benefit coverage:

Continuous Medical Coverage Benefit Period
  • 1-3 years service equals 3 month benefit
  • 4-6 years service equals 6 month benefit
  • 7-9 years service equals 9 month benefit
  • 10 plus years service equals 12 month benefit

For more information contact MESSA at:
1475 Kendale Blvd., P.O. Box 2560
East Lansing, MI 48826-2560
MESSA website:
Contact Messa: :

Contribution By Patti Lovelace, KEA Secretary

Friday, February 13, 2009

Free Kent ISD Tech Class

Check this out:

March 9 through May 11th. This will run without classroom sessions, you can do it from wherever you can access the web!

Friday Inservice Fun

Even though we were eagerly anticipating the Mid-winter break on Monday and Tuesday, middle school teachers were attending some good sessions on Friday afternoon. Sessions offered included Differentiated Instruction, Formative Assessments, Curriculum Crafters, and Technology in the Classroom.

Greg Mileski did a great job showing how to use Google accounts, RSS feeds, Bookmarking, and Blogs. Basically, if you have web access, you can access your materials and sources by using these tools. For a great example check out Mike Kaechle's blog that is replacing the paper in his classroom.

Curriculum Crafter is a great program from Kent ISD that will allow all KPS educators to access lessons, benchmarks, standards, assessments, and curriculum webs. Need a lesson? Find it at

As Greg said the average coal miner uses more technology than the average classroom teacher. WOW!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Contact Your Legislator

How often lately have you asked, "What is my legislator thinking?" Well, one of the things we will attempt to give you in this Blog are links to the local legislators who affect our lives as teachers. As Jeanne Hewitt, KEA PAC Chair, so often tells us, the people in Lansing just don't hear from teachers often enough. They only hear from the lobbyists or the people who have an idea, but have no idea what takes place in the classroom. The demands we face everyday are big enough without having an well-meaning but uninformed legislator putting another brick on our load. So....check the links and send them the information they need to vote as fully informed public servants.

Here are the links!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Welcome to the NEW KEA Blog!

The KEA Blogspot is alive and well....getting started for you.
I am sitting here at Cobo Hall designing a new web blog that will be used to keep you informed about current issues in the KEA community. It will hopefully be a valuable tool for association communication. So bookmark, and check back often.

2008-2009 MEA Bargaining Conference

Well, it was a frosty -12 on the readout of President Dan Magennis' Explorer as we headed towards Detroit on I 96 this morning.
Dan Magennis, Steve Cavazos, Mike Dimick, and I were heading down to Cobo Hall for the MEA PR/Bargaining Convention. A great group from Kentwood, including Michelle Thomas, Chief Negotiator, Deb Irvine, Denise Saganski, Julie Brill, and a few more to be noted later were already in attendance to represent the KEA.
Gratefully, neither the cold, traffic, or Dan's 250k Explorer held us back and we were able to make it to the first sessions on time. There are a lot of great sessions we will be attending in order to bring back the best information to our members. This BLOG is one of the tools that we will be providing members with a source of information on current bargaining issues. So, bookmark this spot, and we will be back with more soon.
The MEA/PR Bargaining Conference runs from today, February 5 to Saturday, February 7.

Chas Schaner, KEA Communications