Saturday, September 29, 2007

Wayne Kuipers is holding up state budget.

Legislators have not yet reached a state budget deal to avoid a partial government shutdown beginning Monday, though negotiations continue.

Senator Wayne Kuipers from Holland is holding up state budget talks to secure passage of SB 418, which would attack MESSA's pools. This legislation would not save the state any money. Please contact your legislators and the governor and tell them not to let Kuipers hold a budget agreement hostage to his political agenda.

Negotiations are at a critical stage and your help is needed immediately. Please contact your legislators.

If you phone your legislators, you should know that most are in caucus meetings and cannot be reached personally. Please leave a message with office staff indicating your concerns and support for adequate revenues for public education.

You can make a difference!

Monday, September 24, 2007

So called "Reforms" are bad for education

Contact your legislator on these issues and bills.

•SB 546 and SB 547 would reform the Public School Employees Retirement Act. SB 546 would reduce the state subsidy for retirement insurance and provide for a graded premium subsidy on health benefits. SB 547 would increase the member contribution to the retirement system, mandate that a retiree must work at least 10 years to be eligible for retirement payments, as well as other technical changes. MEA opposes both bills.
•SB 418-421 is a series of bills commonly known as the "MESSA bills." These bills would require release of claims data and four insurance bids prior to bargaining. The release of claims would allow insurers to "cherry pick" healthier groups, which would then drive up the premium costs for existing pools of insured members. MEA opposes this attack on MESSA.
•SB 549 would mandate a common school calendar within an ISD. The current version only requires winter and spring breaks to be the same within an ISD. This version of the bill was not supported by MEA, but we did support removing the ability of ISDs to determine all aspects of calendar and removing their right to schedule common professional development days.
•HB 4975-4976 would require 10 years of service before being able to purchase service credit and stipulates that purchased service does not count toward health benefits vesting. MEA does not support these bills.

Other reforms being discussed include: banning double-dipping by school retirees who return to work; moving all school elections to November; mandating that no school employee be paid more than the governor; and conducting studies on school consolidation and school employee wages and benefits.

Please contact your legislators today. Tell them to resolve our state's budget crisis by investing in education. Tell them to turn down politically motivated "reforms" that balance the budget on the backs of school employees.

** Reminder: Do not communicate with legislators on school time and equipment. Wait until you are away from school to contact your legislators. Thank you.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Insurance Costs

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Important dates

September 14 - First pay. Please check your pay stub to make sure you are at the correct column and step.

September 26 - New teacher orientation. If you are a new teacher to Holland, please talk to your building AR and mentor teacher about attending this event.

September 30 - Sick bank donations are due. Please send donation forms to Jon Toppen at VanRaalte School. Talk to your building AR about the new sick bank donation process.

October 11 - Probationary teacher dinner (Holland DoubleTree Conference Center). All probationary teachers are encouraged to attend this dinner sponsored by MEA. Come and learn how MEA can help you through the probationary status.

October 26 - First deduction of dues.