Open Letter on MPSERS Reform Package

Senator Pete MacGregor:

I don’t think any educational leader or school board member doesn’t agree that we need a reasonable reform of our school employee retirement system. No different than the structure of our schools and learning, systems designed in the early 20th century are no longer viable and must be thoughtfully redesigned without hurting kids.

The current MSPERS reform package does not take design-thinking principles into account and will only serve to hurt kids as proposed. This package of bills will add another $23 billion in costs that will be borne by our districts and the SAF at least until 2058. In comparison, the current UAAL payoff is 2038.

This added cost will pull $1,100 per pupil away from the classroom during the duration of this payoff, adding to already declining revenues when inflationary costs are factored in. This comes at a time when Michigan is trying to become a Top 10 in 10 state when it comes to public education, a feat that will be difficult if not impossible unless we stop reducing available instructional funds, particularly in a district like ours that has one of the highest percentages of kids in poverty and English learners in the state. The reform packages now being rushed through in lame duck will pull funds away from the sorely needed programs that ensure these kids experience academic growth and graduate on time, career and college ready.

On top of the costs to ride out the current MPSERS system unfunded liability is the proposed increased normal costs to districts, from 4.13 to 7 percent for teachers under the new plan. The plan itself may be attractive to new teachers but the costs to districts again will come from the classroom. We can’t afford to continue cutting back classroom instruction.

Please vote no on this package and demand a design thinking approach to solving this problem with the needs of all of the users taken into account. I realize political decisions are difficult but we’re talking about the future of public education in Michigan, and ultimately the futures of our kids.

Thank you for putting kids first.

David

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About David Britten

Retired U.S. Army Officer, former elementary, middle and high school principal, currently serving as a public school superintendent.
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