Welcome to the first Metro Bureau Newsletter of the 2020-2021 school year. A very wise superintendent and mentor of mine once shared with me, “We never know what the year will hold, but I promise you there will always be new challenges to address.” Who would have ever thought that “preparing for the COVID classroom”, return to learn plans, and all that this entails would be those issues. It never ceases to amaze me that despite these challenges (with the reality that COVID will most likely be the largest challenge to define our work as leaders in our country and during our lifetime), you, your leadership team, and your staff continue to work diligently to always put the needs of Michigan students first.
It may seem a bit political to speak of the United States Postal Service at this time, but please humor me. I am the granddaughter of a postmaster who actually served our country in this role for over forty years, including during World War II. She would actually hand deliver mail to families of soldiers, so that they could immediately read the handwritten words of their sons and know they were safe. I loved going to work with her at the post office where I observed her tireless work ethic, helped her sort the mail and looked forward to playing with the unlimited supply of rubber bands.
Last summer, Ben Kirby, the new Superintendent of Lake Orion, turned me on to the book The Fred Factor, by Mark Sanborn. As the book jacket shares, the author tells the story of Fred, the mail carrier who passionately loves his job and cares about the people he serves. Because of that, he is constantly going the extra mile handling the mail- and sometimes even watching over the houses of the people on his route, treating everyone he meets as a friend. Where others might see delivering mail as monotonous drudgery, Fred sees an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those he serves. For me, the focus of this book is to turn the “ordinary into the extraordinary” in all aspects of our lives. That is what Fred and my “Granny” did. Even in difficult times, I encourage you all to do this in both your professional and personal lives. As students continue to be our focus, our work continues to be about relationships and service to others. My goal is to be a “Fred” for the Metro Bureau, as I too share the author’s belief that “excellence and quality should be the goal in any business or profession”.
At the Metro Bureau, we are about providing you positive and professional leadership experiences as well as information you can utilize immediately in your districts. Whether you attend our monthly council meetings, our numerous seminars or use us for benchmarking surveys or consultations, we focus on doing what it takes to make sure you have a good experience in all things Metro Bureau. We have been planning a terrific schedule of events for 2020-2021. Whether you are back in the same position this year or beginning something new, I am sure you will find that the Metro Bureau services and events for 2020-2021 will meet your needs and expectations. To find out more, please be sure to visit our website at www.metrobureau.org for the latest events.
Again, I am so grateful to serve with all of you during the 2020-2021 school year!
Metro Bureau Open and College Scholarships
This spring, 16 students were awarded college scholarships from the Metro Bureau totaling over $16,000. The Metro Bureau Open Golf Outing is the primary fundraiser for the Metro Bureau Scholarship Program. This year on July 27th, 87 eager golfers hit the links at the Western Golf Club to raise money for the 2021 Metro Bureau scholarships.
We Value your Membership
The Metro Bureau is currently serving 78 K-12 Public School districts, ISD/RESAs, Wayne County Community College and Wayne State and Oakland Universities. Each year as we welcome new administrators in the multiple school districts we serve, I would also like to share information on the services the Metro Bureau provides. Our goal is to help school leaders become successful by providing the knowledge, skills and wisdom necessary for leadership and sound decision-making. We are proud of the services the Bureau provides. They include the following:
- Reliable legal and financial information for school leaders.
- Regular opportunities for leaders to participate in facilitated discussion and collaboration through our seminars, workshops and monthly meetings.
- A monthly newsletter that contains timely information and recommendations.
- Access to Metro Bureau Business Partners. By providing expertise on legal issues, technology, energy purchase and consumption, employee benefit purchases and keeping our school campuses safe and secure. Our business partners are valued resources to member districts.
- Each year, graduating seniors from member school districts receive scholarships from the Metro Bureau to assist with the cost of post-secondary education.
- The Metro Bureau now offers a comprehensive Superintendent Search service to member school districts. Our process is thorough and effective, utilizing networks across the state. Metro Bureau member school districts receive this service at a cost that is significantly lower than current market rates.
The Metro Bureau website (www.metrobureau.org ) contains information on upcoming events, archived conferences and seminars and recent contract settlement information for member districts. Parts of the website are password protected. Contact Pat Denson (firstname.lastname@example.org ) for assistance with your password.
As the Executive Director for the Metro Bureau, I am always happy to meet with superintendents and district administrators to discuss our services to ensure that school districts are utilizing their membership and continue to receive a good return on their investment.
Metro Bureau Business Partners
Metro Bureau Business Partners are a valuable asset to members of the Metro Bureau. Metro Bureau Business Partners provide expertise in six critical areas; learning services, operations, legal services, analytics and data, benefits and risk management and financial services. Each Metro Bureau business partner:
Within each of our newsletters you will find information and updates from the Metro Bureau Business Partners. We hope that whenever you have questions or need a consultation in one of the six areas, you contact one of our business partners.
- Has expertise within their field that school district leaders need and want
- Enjoys a superior reputation in providing high quality service to school districts in our region
- Is willing to consult with any Metro Bureau member at no cost
- Supports public education in Michigan
Metro Bureau Group Services Energy Consortium Partners
The main objective of MBGS is to save school districts and other educational institutions money by improving their bargaining power. Through our partnership with Siemens Industries we are able to increase our competitive edge for our energy customers. This partnership not only increases our purchasing power in negotiating the lowest possible natural gas and electricity prices for school districts, it also provides our customers with access to Siemens’ world class purchasing and consumption analysis software so that school districts can more closely monitor their energy costs.
with Siemens Energy Procurement
Metro Bureau Group Services Guiding Principles:
Please contact us if you would like to know more about Metro Bureau Group Services or obtain a quote.
- Facilitate the low cost purchase of secure energy supplies for consortium members on the most favorable contract terms.
- Reduce the amount you spend for natural gas and electricity.
- To avoid energy price spikes through carefully drafted contracts.
- Monitor all Metro Bureau Group Services utility invoices to check for billing errors and insure the rates are correct.
- Respond promptly to market changes by advising you when we believe it is in your best interest to extend your contract term to achieve even lower prices.
- To address and resolve supplier issues promptly.
- Create downloadable data reports to be used in sorting and analyzing energy usage (and thus cost) per meter, per square foot and/or per student.
Council of Chief Negotiators
by Greg Baracy, Associate Executive Director
Elizabeth Davis, CCN Chair, Rochester Community Schools
Return to Learn
I wish I could say, “I hope you had a restful and rejuvenating summer and are excited to move on to the upcoming school year.” However, after being part of dozens of zoom meetings, seminars and other COVID-19 updates, I know how hard you have been working dealing with school restart related issues and protocols, despite no formative guidance from the State Legislature and Governor’s Office. Many of our member districts report this has been one of the most emotional, frustrating and challenging times in their educational career. Trying to develop and prepare several different instructional delivery platforms in anticipation of opening school has been an undaunting task. On behalf of the entire Metro Bureau staff, we commend each of you for your laser-like focus and professionalism to address the needs of our students, staff and families.
As of this writing and after weeks of uncertainty, lawmakers once again reached a last-minute legislative deal in the dark of night. The Senate met on an exceedingly rare Saturday session to approve the previous day’s deal reached between the Governor’s Office, the House and the Senate leaders. The big compromise was not requiring in-person instruction for K-5 students. However, the final version of the bill did include a clause that suggest districts prioritize K-5 in-person instruction. The legislative package is headed to the Governor’s desk where she is expected to sign it.
Educational leaders across the state have expressed dismay that this “Return-To-Learn” package was not reviewed, vetted and critiqued by the total educational community. There are, however, a couple of interesting observations that can be made. While administrators, superintendents and school boards have expressed disappointment in the bills, the teacher unions have come out in strong support of them. I will let you draw your own conclusions on that one. A summary and analysis of HB 5911, HB 5912 and HB5913 can be found at legislature.mi.gov.
So, here we go again, starting another school year under extraordinary pressure. We have been dealing with the unprecedented closing of last school year, teacher evaluations, teacher shortages, negotiations, interviews for hiring mostly virtual, policy updates, increased retirements due to the pandemic, CARES, FFCRA, EPSLA and EFMLA. And now, trying to navigate the contents “return-to-learn” road map two weeks before school starts. Where is the extra work and hazard pay for our awesome HR professionals? I guess I am getting a little carried away, please forgive me.
Welcome to Our New Council of Chief Negotiators
We want to welcome and thank Beth Davis for agreeing to serve as the CCN Chairperson this year. Beth is the Chief Human Resource Officer for the Rochester Schools. Until we get into at least phase five under the Governor’s MI SAFE START PLAN, we will be zooming all CCN meetings.
To support our member districts professional development needs, the Metro Bureau is offering the following webinars and seminars:
Mon, August 24, 2020 Preparing for the COVID Classroom/Promoting Emotional Health - Presenters: Rob Dwortz & Jodi DeRoo, Become Unmistakable - Location: Virtual
Tues, September 15, 2020 Title IX: Regulations and Investigation Protocols
Presenters: Lorie Steinhauer, John Kava, and Jeremy Chisholm of Collins & Blaha, P.C. - Location: Virtual
Tues, September 29, 2020 Understanding PAM: The Pupil Accounting Manual and Its
Impact on FTE’s - Presenters: George Butler and Emily Burdick of Dickinson Wright, PLLC - Location: Virtual
Tues, October 13, 2020 Collective Bargaining Tips and Board Policy Considerations During
the Pandemic -Presenters: Thrun Law Firm, P.C. - Location: *Schoolcraft College – VisTaTech Center, Livonia, MI
Tues, November 17, 2020 Public School Capital Improvement Process – Bond & Finance - Presenters: George Butler of Dickinson Wright, PLLC - Location: *Schoolcraft College – VisTaTech Center, Livonia, MI
Additional details can be found on the Metro Bureau website (www.metrobureau.org); Please remember, the strength of our organization is through our membership; so please let us know if you have any suggestions for future seminars.
*Metro Bureau will continue to evaluate meeting at Schoolcraft or via Zoom based on the Governor’s orders and the health and safety of our members.
Council of Academic Leadership
by Nancy Campbell, Associate Executive Director
Beatrice Benjamin, CAL Chair, Redford Union Schools
Social Emotional Learning Is A Priority This Fall
Everywhere you look, people are writing about and talking about the importance of social emotional learning for our students and staff. The CAL subcommittee who met in July to plan monthly presentation topics for 2020-21 said social and emotional issues that deal with going back to school during COVID keep them awake at night. They made it clear that we need to learn and share everything we can to make sure we are doing everything we can to address the needs of our community.
When students and staff encounter trauma (as we all have this year), it often manifests itself in unexpected behaviors and social struggles. Emotional and mental health need to integrate into our schedules and our teachers’ lesson plans whenever possible to teach students strategies to self-regulate and increase their awareness of others. I read an article that gave three ways to support staff and students in this challenging time: read good books on creativity, empathy, and cultural identity; give structure to your day, your staffs’ day, and the students’ day; and use tools from professionals.
To that end, “use tools from professionals,” the Metro Bureau planned a morning seminar titled Preparing for the COVID Classroom on Monday, August 24. Many signed up for this event sponsored by Become Unmistakable and those who were unable to do so will be able to see this recorded offering on our website. CAL wants to continue in this vein by having Vern Hazard II., Senior Vice President of Solutions from the Flippen Group, present on Social and Emotional Issues and Coping Skills. Vern will meet with us via Zoom on Friday, September 25, at 9:00 a.m.
I hope you can join us at our monthly CAL Meetings this year to learn from your colleagues and share the good work you are doing in your district. Until we see each other virtually, please feel free to call (248-462-5553) or email (email@example.com) if I can help you in any way.
From Our Business Partners