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