I hope that you are getting ready to enjoy the upcoming Fourth of July holiday! In this e-news, I will be letting you know about my planned community conversations for the summer, updating you on an important bill of mine to support teachers and school employees, as well as giving you an update on the final state budget that was passed this week. I hope to see you around the district this summer!

Community Conversations

We will have many community conversations throughout the district this summer. These are a great opportunity for you to come and talk with me about any issues you care about, as well as get an update about what I have been doing in Lansing for our community. I hope to see you sometime over the summer!

  • Huntington Woods Community Conversation at the Huntington Woods Library and Cultural Center, 26415 Scotia Road, Huntington Woods, MI 48070 on Wednesday, July 5, from 3-4 p.m.
  • Detroit Community Conversation at the Sherwood Forest Detroit Public Library, 7117 W. Seven Mile Road, Detroit on Friday, July 14, from 4-5 p.m.
  • Berkley Community Conversation at the Berkley Public Library, 3155 Coolidge Highway, Berkley, MI 48072 on Friday, July 21, from noon to 1 p.m.
  • Detroit Community Conversation at Marygrove College, 8425 W. McNichols Road, Detroit, MI 48221 on Tuesday, July 25, from 2-3 p.m.
  • Oak Park Community Conversation at the Oak Park Public Library – Michigan, 14200 Oak Park Blvd., Oak Park, MI 48237 on Thursday, Aug. 3, from 3-4 p.m.
  • Royal Oak Community Conversation at the Office Coffee Shop, 402 S. Lafayette Ave., Royal Oak, MI 48067 on Friday, Aug. 11, from 2-3 p.m.
  • Detroit Community Conversation at Detroit Sip, 7420 W. McNichols Road, Detroit, MI 48221 on Wednesday, Aug. 16, from 2-3 p.m.
  • Royal Oak Township Community Conversations at the Royal Oak Township Hall, 21131 Garden Lane 2nd Floor, Ferndale, MI 48220 on Monday, Aug. 21, from 3-4 p.m.

Restoring Bargaining Rights for Teachers

This week, my House Bill 4354 passed the Senate and is now on its way to the governor’s desk. My bill restores essential collective bargaining rights that were stripped away from teachers and other school employees back in 2011. The restoration of these rights will help give more teachers a voice and input into critical decisions affecting their classrooms. This bill also restores rights for school employees and education support staff professionals. This includes the folks who clean, maintain and secure our school buildings: the secretaries who ensure our schools run smoothly; the bus drivers who transport our students to and from school safely; the food service workers who prepare nutritious foods; the paraprofessionals who support our most vulnerable students. This bill will improve working conditions for teachers and school employees while allowing educators to better advocate for their students’ needs. It’s time to restore these rights and to give our educators the respect they deserve. Looking toward our future, this bill will undoubtedly help attract and retain high-quality educators who are key to our kids’ success.

Budget Update

This week, my colleagues and I were able to pass historic investments in Michigan through our budgets for the upcoming fiscal year. These budgets included almost $2 billion in local road funding, a funding increase of 7% for local governments, and wage increases for nursing home staff and direct care workers. For years, unspent federal dollars have been collecting dust, when they should have been used to support Michiganders. We’re using that money to repair our roads and water infrastructure here in Michigan before Washington, D.C., claws it back. Even with substantial tax cuts for seniors and working families earlier this year, we’re making these fiscally responsible investments while preserving the largest rainy-day fund in state history.

As the chair of the School Aid Appropriations Subcommittee in the House, I was extremely pleased with the transformational changes that were a part of the largest education budget in our state’s history. We were able to increase the foundation allowance by 5%, fully fund the special education foundation allowance, include money to offset the transportation costs that districts face, and make a significant increase in the amount of funding dedicated to the poorest students across our state. On top of the monumental increase in at-risk funding, we have created an opportunity index to ensure that districts with high concentrations of poverty receive more, because we know that these students have additional needs. To me, this budget sets the table for what our school funding level should be in Michigan. We still have work to do to ensure full and equitable funding, but this budget is a monumental leap in the right direction toward ensuring every kid in our state receives a high-quality public education.

I hope you and your family have a wonderful and safe Fourth of July weekend, and I hope to see you around the district this summer.