It’s a new year, and Michigan is now in the Governor Whitmer era. As you’ve certainly heard, 2018 closed out with a flurry of legislation quickly passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor Snyder. While Lusk Albertson covered developments as they occurred, it’s important that school districts be aware of the key school legislation that passed. Please read below for the most important new laws effecting schools.
School Grading System – House Bill 5526 (Public Act 601). If you were paying attention to one bill during the lame duck session, it was House Bill 5526. The law amends various sections of the Revised School Code, requiring the creation of an Education Accountability Policy Commission (as part of MDE) to develop an A-F school grading system based on a school’s achievement. The system will measure:
- Student proficiency in math and English language arts, as measured by the percentage of pupils who achieve proficiency on the applicable state assessments;
- The percentage of students who achieve adequate growth in math and English language arts on the applicable state assessment (e.g. student growth from fall to spring or from spring of the preceding year to spring of the following year; the percentage of students who were proficient on the immediately preceding applicable state assessment and who at least maintained a proficient score on the most recent state assessment; and, the percentage of students who scored less than proficient on the immediately preceding state assessment and who demonstrate growth sufficient to reach proficiency in three (3) school years);
- The percentage of students who are English-language learners and who achieve adequate growth toward proficiency in the English language, as determined by the Commission and required under federal Every Student Succeeds Act (“ESSA”);
- The graduation rate of high school students;
- The rate of students who are chronically absent, as defined by and reported to CEPI; and,
- The participation rate for each applicable state assessment, based on students assigned to take that assessment.
The law also requires MDE to rank each public school as significantly above average, above average, average, below average, or significantly below average, based on the school’s performance relative to comparable schools. The ranking takes into account a school’s student subgroup performance relative to the performance of the same group statewide (e.g., African-American student performance at the school relative to statewide performance for that group). Finally, the law also requires the Commission to develop standards for identifying schools that fall into categories of performance and adequate achievement, similar to the standards currently in place under existing law.
The new law is perhaps the most controversial piece of legislation passed during lame duck, particularly in the education realm. In addition to the effort required to transition to the new system, the law also increases costs for the state, and could increase costs for school districts via data reporting requirements.
Appropriations – House Bill 4991 (Public Act 588). In what will undoubtedly be an unpopular decision from educators’ and administrators’ points of view, this law shifts revenue away from the School Aid Fund and the General Fund to the Michigan Transportation Fund and the Renew Michigan Fund. Over the next two fiscal years, the law will reduce revenue to the School Aid Fund by $141.0 million and $173.8 million, respectively.
School Safety Package – Senate Bills 882, 0982, 0983, 0990, and 0991 (Public Acts 467, 435, 436, 437, and 669, respectively). These five laws are part of a school safety package that do the following:
- Create the Office of School Safety (“OSS”) within the Michigan State Police. The OSS works with MDE to improve school safety by creating model practices, developing and training school staff on school safety, seeking and applying for federal funds relative to school safety and reducing violence and disruption in schools, and creating and administering a grant program to disburse competitive school safety grants, as appropriated by the Legislature to schools, to improve the safety and security of school buildings, students, and staff;
- Require educational entities to develop an emergency operations plan for each school building by January 1, 2020. The plan must address school violence and attacks, bomb threats, intruders, school building security, and an array of other potential threats and challenges. The requirement for a plan is satisfied by implementing a statewide school safety information policy (as required under Act 102 of 1999) that meets the requirements. The plan must be reviewed every two years with at least one local law enforcement agency. There are also MDE reporting requirements. The plan is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act;
- Require educational entities to provide the Michigan State Police with contact information for at least one school official, twice per year;
- Allow a school board to hold closed session to discuss security planning; and
- Require educational entities to consult with a local law enforcement agency on school safety issues before construction or major renovation of a school building occurs.
The package also includes House Bills 5828, 5829, 5851, and 5852 (Public Acts 548, 549, 551, and 552, respectively). Generally, these laws control operations and funding requirements on the OSS side. However, House Bill 5829 requires educational entities to appoint an employee (or person working regularly and continuously under contract) as a liaison to work with the School Safety Commission and the OSS. House Bill 5851 requires educational entities to provide the Michigan State Police with reports of incidents involving crimes or attempted crimes that currently must be reported to the Superintendent of Public Instruction under MCL 380.1310a(2). The types of crimes (or attempts thereof) reported include crimes involving physical violence, gang‑related activity, illegal possession of a controlled substance or controlled substance analogue, or other intoxicant, trespassing, and property crimes (including, but not limited to, theft and vandalism).
Substitute Teachers – House Bill 4421 (Public Act 418). The law amends the Revised School Code by removing an existing requirement that all vocational teachers certified after June 1, 1995 pass a competency test. It also allows educational entities to employ an individual as a substitute teacher without a teaching certificate if either of the following exists:
- The individual has at least 60 semester hours of college credit or an associate degree from a college, university, or community college; or
- For substitute teaching a course in an industrial technology education program or a career and technical education program, the substitute teaches in a subject matter or field where the substitute has achieved expertise, as determined by the district. Additionally, the substitute must satisfy the following requirements, if applicable:
(a) The substitute must have a high school diploma or equivalency certificate;
(b) For substitute teaching in subject matter or a field in which a professional license or certification is required, the substitute must either hold a professional license or certification in that subject matter or field, OR the substitute must have previously held a professional license or certification in that subject matter or field that expired not more than 2 years before the substitute teacher’s initial employment, and the substitute was in good standing immediately before the professional license or certification expired; and,
(c) The substitute must have at least two (2) cumulative years of professional experience in same subject matter or field in the immediately preceding 10 years.
Minimum Wage – Senate Bill 1171 (Public Act 368). The law slows the rate at which the minimum wage would have risen for workers. While the minimum wage would have reached $12 per hour by 2022, the new law restrains the minimum wage from reaching that rate until 2030. Tipped employees would have matched general minimum wage by 2024, but the new law maintains the tipped minimum wage at its current level of 38% of the general minimum wage. The law also removes language that required annual increases in minimum wage to match inflation.
Sick Time – Senate Bill 1175 (Public Act 369). The law increases the number of hours employees must work in order to earn an hour of sick time, requiring a worker to earn an hour of sick time for every 35 hours worked. Workers can accrue 40 hours of sick time per year. Under the law, an “employer” includes only those covered entities that employ 50 or more individuals.
These summaries highlight only the most important legislation passed during the lame duck session. Please see our full article for other legislation and details here.