April 2019 Newsletter

School News

New Michigan Funding Model!

Over spring break, the Michigan Legislature and Governor agreed on a new funding model for Michigan’s K-12 public schools.  This new model will greatly enhance our local school districts in the Eastern Upper Peninsula and will ensure that we have the funding necessary to provide the level of service currently available in suburban districts to our students.

The new funding model features equitable funding for each student in Michigan.  There will be funding for services for all pre-school children to ensure that all children are ready for Kindergarten programming.  All Michigan K-8 students will be supported with $8,000 per year.  Schools will be funded with $10,000 per student in grades 9-12.

Special Education, including autism services, will now be fully funded, freeing up additional dollars for the new, equitable per pupil funding system.  This will also allow for improved, coordinated, efficient services everywhere in Michigan.

Vocational Education is not only available but is fully funded.  There will be adequate funding to provide vocational education to every high school student through a regional approach utilizing “satellite” programming in multiple locations.  Changes will also be made in the state-mandated curriculum to provide the opportunity to earn vocational certification in students’ schedules.  Students will be provided with opportunities to gain marketable skills as part of their high school diploma, should they choose.

Transportation will soon be provided regionally within intermediate school districts.  Students will be picked up by EUPISD buses and dropped off at the appropriate building, regardless of the district they attend.  This will provide for maximum efficiency and our transportation needs will be viewed as regional needs.  Vast regions, such as the EUP, will qualify for additional funds so districts won’t need to spend exorbitant amounts of money just to get the students to school, preserving those funds for classrooms.

This new system also includes Constitutional protections for public educational funding that can’t be diverted to other state budget areas in the future.  There will be automatic increases in funding to school districts based on cost of living computations to allow them to keep up with rising costs in the future.  PreK-12 will be Michigan’s first priority.

There will also be additional dollars available to provide more days of school.  Districts holding 180 days will be provided an additional $50 per student.  This can increase, as the number of school days increases, at a rate of $50 per student for each additional five days per year, up to a 200-day school year.

There will also be bonus funding for regional collaborations, most of which we have already established here in the EUPISD.  Our region will qualify for funding to support our regional collaborations in curriculum, assessment, data, technology, and business services.

There will also be a statewide compensation program equalizing the salary and benefits for various positions similar to other state departments.  A third-grade teacher in Brimley would make the same as a third grade teacher in Birmingham just as a corrections officer in Jackson would make the same as one in Kinross.  Variations will occur for years of service and performance.

This is all possible through an effort to make funding of school children equitable no matter where they live in the state.  Since this new model utilizes tax dollars, equity is guaranteed.  Our state will invest additional dollars to make this new, equitable system possible.

April Fools!  It’s too bad that investment in education providing adequate, equitable funding in Michigan is only a fairy tale...currently.

******************  I wrote this back in April 2012.  I am reprinting it this year because there is unprecedented attention being paid to the long-broken system of funding Michigan’s public schools.  There has not been a time with more information pointing to the extreme need to improve funding.  Each one of us must be knowledgeable and able to describe the problem.  While the answer lies in increasing funding, it can’t be to add money to the existing system.  What would we do differently?  Would we add youth mental health services?  Reduce class sizes?  Add more elective offerings?

Governor Whitmer’s budget proposal includes many of these concepts.  There will be proposals from the Michigan House and Michigan Senate in coming weeks that may not be as hopeful.  

In 2017, then Lt. Governor Calley released a study (https://www.michigan.gov/documents/calley/Special_Education_Finance_Report_-_final_2017_606751_7.pdf) showing that Michigan underfunds special education by over $700 million annually.

In January, Michigan State University professor, Dr. David Arsen, released a study (http://education.msu.edu/ed-policy-phd/pdf/Michigan-School-Finance-at-the-Crossroads-A-Quarter-Center-of-State-Control.pdf) showing that Michigan is dead last among the 50 states in financial support for public schools.

Perhaps most comprehensively, the School Finance Research Collaborative study (https://www.fundmischools.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/School-Finance-Research-Collaborative-Report.pdf) has been widely read and understood by educational leaders, business leaders, and politicians.  The main message from this study is that one size does not fit all.  While equal dollars would be a nice start, it is not equitable.  The cost to meet each of Michigan’s public-school students is as different as the 1.48 million students in Michigan.

The time to properly fund the education of Michigan’s public-school students is long overdue. 


The EUPISD is Springing Forward With PBIS. This month’s newsletter highlights the most recent capacity assessment information of our EUPISD PBIS Leadership Team.  This team has been in a partnership with MIBLSI to structure the support provided through training, coaching, and data collection. The PBIS Leadership Team uses the information from their capacity assessment in order to better plan supports for the upcoming school year and to update their implementation plan.

EUPMTSS Newsletter


Become a Certified PBIS Coordinator for your school. Click the link to obtain more information how you can become a certified PBIS Coordinator at your school.  This training is appropriate for administrators, intervention specialists, counselors, MTSS coaches, and other positions as well.

School Improvement

The redesign of the Continuous Improvement Process in Michigan is proceeding according to schedule.  It remains very process-oriented (less required reporting) and is officially represented by the following graphic:

Graph showing Michigan Continuous Improvement Cycle

Districts should continue to increase their focus on the purposeful installation of systems designed to support students both academically and non-academically. Rather than requiring a long list of reports, MDE will be shifting to gathering evidence of both processes and practices, supporting and enhancing current systems-level work (such as MTSS Scale-Up and/or Blueprint Installation).

By now, all districts and buildings have been assigned their short list of required diagnostics/assurances in ASSIST, including the Program Evaluation Tool (due June 30) and the School/District Improvement Plan with Title Diagnostics (DIP due June 30; SIP due Sept. 1). Note that MDE will not adopt a new electronic platform until they have utilized stakeholder input to generate an RFP that fits our redesigned process, with a “full launch” target of 2020-2021.  Contact Lindsay Brindley, School Improvement Facilitator, at brindley@eupschools.org with any questions.

General Education

Training/Meeting Dates

Below is a list of trainings/meetings for April.  Please click the link for more information and to register.  (If lunch is provided as part of a training, you must register at least 24 hours in advance to be included in the lunch count).  For a complete listing for the school year, please visit Wisdomwhere.

EUP Counselors

EUPEPA Meeting

EUPSSPA-EUP Secondary Principals Association

Health & PE CRT (HCRT) (PECRT)

MTSS Literacy Tier 1

Reading Recovery/Literacy Lessons/Literacy Support Re-Certification PD

Reading Recovery/Literacy Lessons/Literacy Support Training Class

STEM Integrated Learning Team (ILT), K-12

Strengthening Systems - School Leadership Teams-School & District Improvement (SIT) & (DIT)

Tri-County Administrators Meetings

World Language CRT (WLCRT)

History Day Results

Group photo of History Day student winners


EUP STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math

FIRST Robotics Event at Lake Superior State University: April 5-6

We are fortunate to have a FIRST Robotics District Competition at LSSU this April!  If you have not been to an event yet, they are excellent events to watch and are open to the public.  In addition, volunteers are needed in a variety of capacities listed below along with contact information for volunteer coordinators.

LSSU FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) VIP Ambassador Program

The goal of the VIP Ambassador program is to introduce individuals and organizations within our STEM community to FIRST Robotics and the students and teachers who are involved.  Connections to business and industry leaders include:

  • Connection to students and teachers of students who have an interest in areas that include engineering, computer science, robotics, machining, welding, and business.  FRC can be a way to make connections to students who will be entering the workforce and/or pursuing further education in related STEM fields.
  • Opportunities to support FRC teams within our region through mentorship and/or sponsorship.
  • Participate in dialogue around the development of career pathways that we can promote to help students develop the skills needed to work in your industry.

Register Here

Trig Star Math Competition

Trig Star will take place in the EUP on May 1, 2019.  Trig Star is a geometry competition for high school students across Michigan.  The Trig-Star competition is a national trigonometry competition open to high school students throughout the country. Trig-Star is designed to show students real world applications of trigonometry in the land surveying and engineering professions. The students are given four questions, and the student that has the most correct answers in the least amount of time is declared the EUP regional winner, winning a prize and receiving the opportunity to enter their score to the statewide competition . Teachers and students from all EUP districts are invited to attend.  Jeff Davis of Great Lakes Surveying and the EUP STEM Region sponsor this event.  Teachers can register their students HERE.

Upcoming Computer Science opportunities for K-12 Teachers!

The MiSTEM Network and Code.org are continuing to provide professional learning opportunities for K-12 teachers.  This is a great way to increase computer science opportunities for your students!  See more details about summer opportunities HERE.

Integrate computation into your high school classroom!  Integrating Computation in Science Across the Mitten (ICSAM) is an NSF funded initiative for high school teachers who wish to integrate computation into their physics classrooms.  This opportunity was presented at the Michigan Science Teachers Association conference in Grand Rapids and will include a stipend, travel, and lodging for participants!  Please see details and application information HERE.

EUP STEM Region Summer Externships for Teachers

Teacher externships are an outstanding way to connect your classroom to real world experiences by collaborating with business and industry partners!  Please see the Teacher Externship FLYER to learn about the opportunity for teachers to participate in summer externships in the EUP STEM Region!

Inland Seas Schoolship Program:

The Inland Seas Schoolship will be back again in Hessel this year on July 1 for the Next Gen Schoolship program to promote stewardship of the Great Lakes through hands-on education.  Two programs will run on July 1, and additional information will be released by May 1.

Special Education

Click here to read the Project SEARCH News-6th Edition

April is Autism Awareness Month!

One idea to celebrate diversity and inclusion in your building is to have staff or your Peer Support “LINKS” students create and read morning announcements in an effort to integrate autism awareness month into your school.  Take a minute to peruse this Example of Autism Awareness Morning Announcements.  Other schools have set up a table at lunch for their Peer LINKS to provide information on Autism and paint one nail blue of anyone who visits the table.  Check out this printable card that you can use to accompany this activity.

A Superficial Glance at American Sign Language (ASL)

There are about 500,000 people who use American Sign Language (ASL) as their primary receptive and expressive language.  Many people want to learn some form of sign language, including signing for babies.  Thanks to media exposure, ASL has gained popularity over the decades.  Click here to read more!

April is Occupational Therapy Month!

Occupational Therapists (OT) in the schools help children in their main occupation of learning. Whether it is supporting sensory or self-regulation, working on fine motor skills in handwriting, or practicing dressing or self-care tasks, an OT is skilled in analyzing a student’s task and helping them become more independent.

In our region, the Occupational Therapy School Workgroup this year has been focusing on firming up our local guidelines and assessments so that the schools in our districts have consistent and equal access to evaluation tools and resources to support our services. We have also been exploring OT’s role in Response to Intervention (RTI) and how OTs in the schools can best support the needs of students in the classroom. Still not sure what OTs in the school can do for you, ask your building’s Occupational Therapist!

It’s not too late to register!  Book Study - Great Instruction, Great Achievement for Students with Disabilities, Part Two

Participants will engage in Part Two of an online book study utilizing the book "Great Instruction Great Achievement" by John O'Connor.  Although the focus is the second half of O’Connor’s book, participation in part one is not a prerequisite. Even those who did not complete part one of the book study will be able to engage in the materials in a meaningful way. The online work starts on April 1, 2019 and is broken into weekly modules with a chapter per week that is also supplemented by external resources.  After engaging with the material, participants will compose written responses to questions presented.  Participants should plan to spend 60-90 minutes per week completing the work.  A one-hour virtual meeting will be held to complete the book study on May 29, 2019 from 3:15-4:15 p.m.  Thirteen SCECHs are available for participants who actively engage with the weekly materials and participate in the end of session virtual meeting.  Participants who register in Wisdomwhere will receive a paperback copy of the book and a link to the book study website with instructions on how to engage in the online materials. Click HERE to register. Contact Tammy Hazley with questions - thazley@eupschools.org

Assistive Technology and the IEP

Assistive Technology (AT) is defined in the federal law in the  Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to include: Devices-any item, piece of equipment, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability; and Services-which directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology devise.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that AT be considered for all students within the development of the IEP.  If the IEP team determines a need for assistive technology to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE), the assistive technology may be a part of the student’s special education program, related service or a supplementary aid and service.   Questions to consider for each area of concern include:

  • What specific tasks in this area are difficult or impossible to achieve at this time at the expected level of independence?
  • What accommodations and tools are currently being used to lower barriers?
  • Are there continuing barriers when the student attempts the task?

There is a wide variety of AT ranging from low-tech to high-tech.  AT can be a simple, easily affordable device or service.  IEP teams can borrow devices from ALT+SHIFT (https://www.altshift.education ) for trial periods to allow time to evaluate the effectiveness of the assistive technology.

Click here to read the Special Education April Newsletter!

Early Childhood

Infant Mental Health Endorsements

Social emotional needs are increasing and a priority area for early childhood staff. In response to the increased needs, all staff in Early On are working through the Infant Mental Health endorsement process. Laura Gagnon (OT) and Lisa Lewicki (SLP) were recently approved for Infant Family Associates endorsements (level I) through the Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health. Ashley Anderson (SW) recently received her Infant Family Specialist endorsement (level II). Rachel Denis (SLP) and Brittany Stabile (ECSE teacher) are currently level I endorsed. The infant mental health endorsement process requires a portfolio of education, work experience, trainings, professional references, and reflective supervision. The application process involves two-tiered review and requires continuous professional development.

Parent/Child Learning Opportunities

Early On staff are offering parent education and play opportunities for families currently enrolled in Early On and for families interested in learning more about their child’s development and ways they can encourage communication, healthy eating/feeding habits, and positive behavior. March was geared at feeding, April’s focus is communication, and May is addressing positive behavior for infants and toddlers.  The intent of this series is to provide socialization opportunities for young children, build parent connections/support network, and provide targeted support around common topics with parent education and hands-on learning opportunities. Meals are provided. The first series of trainings will be hosted in Sault Ste. Marie. Any family with children birth to five residing in Chippewa, Luce, or Mackinac are welcome to attend. For more details on dates, location, and how to register please see the attached flyer - March Playgroup.

Regional Data Systems/Instructional Technology

Data Management Team Meeting: May 17, 2019

If you deal with data in Illuminate (Illuminate leaders, secretaries, counselors, administrators, teachers), please join the Data Management Team.  Meetings are quarterly and deal with all areas of using Illuminate: report cards, GradeBooks, transcripts, demographics, special education, reports, lunch program, and behavior.  We also collaborate on other regional processes related to student data. Your input and experience are important, so consider being a part of the team.  If you have questions, contact Marianna Ripple.  Register for meetings in Wisdomwhere.

REMC 22 Lend-Items Library

Remember that REMC 22 (EUPISD) has a library of classroom materials that can be reserved and checked out.  If you need account access to the library, please contact Marianna Ripple or Genny Kaunisto.

EduPaths: Free Online Professional Development for Educators

EduPaths is organized into pathways containing self-paced courses.  Choose a pathway that meets your professional learning objectives or just continue to learn.  Pathways include: Instruction, Data, Curriculum, Assessment, Early Childhood, Leadership, and ADA Compliance.

Illuminate: Summer Office Hours

If you would like extra help learning, using and maximizing the power of Illuminate, consider participating in Illuminate Office Hours offered this summer.  These dates offer personalized help with Illuminate in a supported environment.  Office staff, counselors, administration, and teachers are all welcome to attend.  Please register in Wisdomwhere for this event as spaces are limited; available dates are June 25, July 23, and August 16.

REMC 22 Classroom Maker Trainings Summer 2019

Want to find out what you can do with the Maker philosophy and materials in your classroom?  Join us for one of two dates this summer: June 24 or July 22.  Training will provide experience with materials, reservation process, and classroom integration.  Past participants are welcome.  Training will be from 9am to 3pm each day with lunch included.  Please register in Wisdomwhere.

Human Resources

Estate Planning Seminar – A Basic Part of Life and Retirement Planning – April 4, 2019

5:30 p.m. – EUPISD Conference Room A

(the session lasts approximately an hour followed a short question period.)

This seminar presented by Michael Veum is for staff that are interested in learning about the basics of estate planning and the options that are available. Discover which plan is right for you and your family. This seminar is available to all school employees in the EUP.

You should attend if:

  • You want to learn what estate planning is and how to go about it
  • You want to learn how the current laws affect your existing estate plan
  • You wish to learn more about probate and how to avoid it

Topics include:

  • What is estate planning?
  • Will or trust? What is right for you?
  • How estates are taxed
  • Why adding children’s names to a deed as a means to avoid probate may be a big mistake
  • Planning for incapacity
  • Planning for children with special needs
  • Estate planning for blended families

Cost: FREE - spouses or other family members are also encouraged to attend.

To be sure there are adequate handouts, please RSVP no later than April 3, 2019 to Steve Gordon at 906-440-5848 or sgordon@eupschools.org

Public School (MPSERS) 401k/457 Plans OverviewApril 11, 2019 – 4:00 p.m. - EUPISD

We are excited to announce that representatives from Voya Financial® and the Office of Retirement Services will be in Sault Ste. Marie to conduct meetings for people in a MPSERS plan who were hired either before or after July 1, 2010 and who want to make sure they’re on track with their retirement plan.

For all public-school employees hired on or after July 1, 2010

The MPSERS Pension Plus/401(k)/457 Plans Overview class is designed for you to better understand the Pension Plus and Defined Contribution Plans. An investment professional from Voya Financial® will moderate this session.  The Overview lasts about one hour and is for newer employees who want to know more about how they can best use their investment accounts to ensure a secure retirement, even if retirement is a long time from now.

You will learn:

  • The difference between Pension Plus and Defined Contribution
  • How the Personal Healthcare Fund works
  • The differences between the 457 and 401(k) Plans
  • Your investment options in Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3
  • Payout options for the 401(k) and 457
  • Who to call with questions

Register for this meeting by clicking here.

  • Click the blue NEXT button in the top right panel
  • Select Public School Employees and click NEXT
  • Scroll down to and click  Public School (MPSERS) 401k/457 Plans Overview (below Financial Fundamentals)
  • Scroll down to the meeting labeled “Sault Ste. Marie—Eastern U.P. ISD” near the bottom of the list and click inside the radio button to the left of the address.
  • Click the radio button to the left of the time and click NEXT again.
  • Complete the registration form and click SAVE.

(Note: they are working to simplify the registration process for this one but for now this is what we have)

If you have trouble registering for this one, email Steve at sgordon@eupschools.org

Planning Your Retirement Workshop – April 11, 2019 – 5:30 p.m. - EUPISD

For all public-school employees hired BEFORE July 1, 2010

The Planning Your Retirement Workshop (PYR) is designed for public school employees in the defined benefit pension plan first hired before July 1, 2010 who are within five years of retirement. These meetings were, until recently, known as Pre-retirement Information Meetings (PRIMs). The workshop lasts about two hours. We also encourage you to generate a pension estimate in miAccount and bring that estimate with you to the meeting.

The meeting will also cover:

  • Meeting eligibility requirements;
  • Picking Pension Payment Option;
  • Deciding on insurance;
  • Reviewing plans, choosing a retirement date, and applying for retirement; and
  • Adjusting to retirement

Register for this meeting by clicking here.


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