Sunday, July 01, 2007

Common School Calendar Bad for Holland

On June 27th, the Michigan Senate adopted SB 549, a bill that would require a common school calendar and interfere with the rights of schools to negotiate regarding this condition of employment. Specifically, this bill requires that each intermediate school district adopt a calendar that each district within the ISD must follow. The common calendar must include AT LEAST the dates for a winter holiday break, a spring break and professional development days. This must be set for at least the next 5 years and must be posted on the ISD website.

There are no provisions for employee or for constituent school district input in the bill. There are exceptions for districts that run year round programs, "international baccalaureate" programs or trimester programs. There are also exceptions for districts that have an existing collective bargaining agreement until the collective bargaining agreement expires.

If adopted by the House of Representatives, this bill would go into effect July 1, 2008.

The Senate adopted the bill by a 20-17 vote, the minimum number of YES votes needed to adopt a bill. The vote was almost, but not quite, a straight party line vote. All of the Senate Democrats voted against the bill except Sen. Michael Switalski (D-Roseville) who voted for it. All of the Republicans voted for the bill except Sen. Bruce Patterson (R-Canton) who voted against the bill. Sen. John Pappageorge was excused for the day and did not vote.

The HEA opposes the bill. It interferes with the rights of school employees with no gain in efficiency or school The supporters claim that this is needed "government reform" and are pushing it as a way of helping to solve the budget crisis of the State.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives where we will continue to oppose it.

This bill will hurt Holland Public Schools. For the past two years, HPS has made changes to it's calendar and PSD schedule to keep teachers in the classroom and save the district money. If this bill passes, it could COST the district. Please write your local representative and tell him/her to oppose this bill.