Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Minutes from 3-4 2013

EGRPS PTA Legislative Committee Meeting

March 4, 2013

Present: Lucy Lafleur, Tina Murua, Louise Timkovich, Amy Turner Thole, Anne Grobel, Dr. Sara Shubel, Elizabeth Lykins, Bob Wolford, Tracy Wolford, Kevin Phillips, Steve Edison

Superintendent’s Report

Dr. Shubel commented that the Friends of Kent County/KISD outreach to parents is very successful.  She thanked Elizabeth, who has done 10 of these events with Christie Ramsey from Rockford, and Lucy who did Thornapple-Kellogg schools this week.  This outreach seems to be paying off with more parent groups being initiated.

EGRPS is holding a budget meeting on Monday, March 11 at 5pm at the administration building, James E. Morse Administration Center at Woodcliff, 2915 Hall S.E., East Grand Rapids, MI 49506.  This meeting will highlight our budget shortfall and the political/state budgetary climate that caused it.

Legislative Committee Concerns:

1.      We are going to Lansing on Wednesday, March 6, 2013 to meet with our legislators, hear from the House Fiscal Agency, from an expert on Early Childhood Education and from a representative from the Oxford Foundation on revamping public school financing.  A report will follow that visit.  It is being organized by KISD.

2.     Tina recommends reviewing The Center for Michigan’s website the www.centerformichigan.org for work they have done asking Michigan residents their opinions about public education.  They are having a live Education Town Hall on Wednesday, March 6.  We will not have television broadcast in West Michigan, but we can stream it. Check it out.

3.     We continue to recommend Michigan Parents for Schools as an excellent site to get good information.  Steve Norton is an Ann Arbor stay at home dad who has become an education policy wonk and who is linking parent school advocates around the state.  Check out his latest http://www.miparentsforschools.org/. 

4.     We are continuing to work with the PTA to improve communication.  We are working hard to solve difficulties in communicating with high school parents.  Any suggestions would be welcome.  lucylafleur@sbcglobal.net. 

5.     Sequestration is a national issue which usually doesn’t affect local/state funded schools.  However, the Washington Post has published an article on the impact of sequestration on states and it looks like Head Start, Title I dollars and special education will be hit.  This is right when we are looking to expand early childhood education, our urban schools have been hit hard by state cuts and will be devastated by losing federal dollars.  Read for yourself.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/sequestration-state-impact/.

6.     Also, a movement is afoot to tie the attacks on public schools to civil rights.  Please view http://unitedoptout.com/ to see what is going on.  We are supportive of all public schools and support local control.  We support the right of all students to have an excellent education. 

7.     We continue our outreach to each school in our district with Legislative Coffees.  We are considering doing a larger event to remind everyone in the district about the issues of Proposal A, how that funding was undermined during our Great Recession and how we will be affected by the proposals being written by the Oxford foundation.  http://oxfordfoundationmi.com/


As usual, I will try to simplify the above into an easily readable three main points:

Please review and be ready when your Legislative Committee calls on you to act!

Budget Issues have local, statewide and National Impact

1.       Local:  Our EGRPS Schools are again facing a budget deficit over $1 million.  Please attend the March 11, 2013 budget meeting at 5pm at the Morse Administrative Building 2915 Hall Street SE East Grand Rapids, MI 49506. www.egrps.org  Look for information coming from EGR NOW! To support our district.  Not from our district?  Get your district to be transparent about your budget crisis and educate your parents.  We can’t fund raise our way out of this problem.  Let’s all get on board!!

2.         State: How can there be a cut if the governor says there was more money in the School Aid Fund?  There are more entities taking money out of the pot, such as the community colleges and universities, which used to be funded through the State’s general fund.  Check out Michigan Parents for Schools Article http://www.miparentsforschools.org/node/187

3.       National: Sequestration will affect federal dollars to states.  Special education, Head Start and Title I dollars are at risk. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/sequestration-state-impact/

Nationally, people are waking up to the Civil Rights impact of Education Reform.  Check out: http://unitedoptout.com/.


1.     (EAA) Education Achievement Authority.  Overreach.  Overkill.  Although it was capped at 50 schools in the lame duck session, it is still a bad law.  It is bad for urban schools.  It is bad for all schools.  Please read: http://www.miparentsforschools.org/node/184

2.     Oxford Foundation school financing revamp.  This unbundling of schools will take local control away.  We will have our districts become the ATM for children’s education while still being held responsible for test scores and other administrative costs.  This is a boon for cyber schools. 

3.     Expansion of choice.  We are revisiting the uncapping of charter and cyber schools with the ability of any entity to open a school.  These schools will be able to have entrance criteria.  Our local public schools take everyone.  These schools will take the least expensive students and our society will be ever more segregated.


Educate yourself.  Join Michigan Parents for Schools http:www.miparentsforschools.org, Friends of Kent County Schools Facebook Page and the ERG Legislative Committee Facebook page or follow us on our blog, www.egrpseducationadvocates.blogspot.com.