FRIDAY NEWS HIT - The veil of uncertainty surrounding Michigan's educational districts appears to finally be coming off as state senators plan to meet tomorrow for a rare Saturday session, in hopes of passing a package of education bills. The legislation is intended to iron out some of the biggest questions facing school administrators, their teachers, and the parents whose kids may be learning from home this fall school year.
Following a series of July-passed bills in the House, the Senate hopes to offer some clarity on the inquiry of school funding. Typically based on pupil attendance for in-class learning, that appears to no longer be an option as several of the state's largest school districts have opted to begin teaching remotely.
Another question surrounds a part of the House-passed bills, which required districts to offer in-person learning for K-5 schools. However, many public education advocacy groups have come out against that portion of the bills while Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has already indicated she would likely veto any bills that came to her desk with that kind of legislation. It's possible that portion could be removed from the package before a vote is totaled.
The mantra that's been circulating around many politicians is a preference to let districts handle its reopenings the way they see best.
"We want to leave it to the locals, we want to leave it to what is best for the children that are in these schools, the teachers that have to produce, the educational processing that have to oversee this," said state Sen. Pete Lucido.
On Thursday, several doctors came out in support of science guiding those decisions.
Over the last few weeks, school boards have fielded comments from parents as zoom meetings have extended well into the middle of the night. Districts like South Lyon and Grosse Pointe voted to start off with online learning only this week.
In the case of Warren Consolidated Schools, the superintendent said they have put a pause on releasing their district plan until the legislature has made up their mind on what they want.
"I'm not sure you could get it more complicated than this," said Robert Livernois, Warren superintendent.
Livernois canceled a board of education meeting Thursday night, to wait and see what happens.
"For us, being patient is a must, just given the size of our district and the impact it will have on our community," he said.
How the legislatures plan figures will also need to account for an anticipated $1.1 billion school funding shortfall, another casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gov. Whitmer planning COVID-19 update today
It's likely the status of Michigan's schools will be brought up during the governor's press conference today, which she plans to speak at 11 a.m. Whitmer has deflected on which way she is leaning regarding allowing in-person learning for the fall.
She has indicated the state's COVID-19 care rate is not low enough to consider in-person learning, which was before Michigan reported the highest number of daily cases since the middle of May. On Thursday, state health officials reported 1,121 new cases.
The bimodal curves of Michigan's cases show community spread in the state is still rampant, which health officials laying the blame partly on young people ignoring social distancing rules and attending large gatherings of people. Fortunately, since peaking in April, the state's death rate has trickled to the single digits every day for the last two months.
At the same time, the state has continued bolstering its testing rate, pushing its daily rate up to 28,000 tests per day.
In the event the tsunami of news hasn't hit your feed yet, what Whitmer won't be speaking about his any plans to be the country's new vice president. After Joe Biden announced that California Sen. Kamala Harris would join him on the ticket, Whitmer offered her congratulations to the candidate, who will be the country's first minority woman to join the Democratic ticket.
That being said, the New York Times did publish a story on Thursday reporting that Whitmer was among the top-four finalists for the spot, "but selecting her also would have yielded an all-white ticket."
Man charged in 2013 double murder of Clinton Twp. mom and daughter
In a case extending back to the first half of the previous decade when police discovered a brutal double murder of a mom and her 11-year-old daughter, prosecutors made a surprise announcement Thursday when they charged 40-year-old Tony James Johnson.
Arrested and charged with two counts of open murder, Johnson is not a usual suspect.
"It speaks volumes that at 40 years old he has no assaultive criminal history at all," an attorney said during the arraignment Thursday.
While Clinton Township police have declined to offer any evidence on the charges, there were plenty of documented details from the original crime scene.
After the apartment manager was called to do a welfare check on 46-year-old Tina Geiger and her daughter, she found them with their throats slashed.
Police arrested a man three days later, but after showing an alibi he was released three months later.
Johnson was given a bond of $1 million and is expected to be back in court on Aug. 24.
Teen shoots mom's boyfriend following domestic dispute
A fatal shooting just after midnight occurred on the 20500 block of Steel Street following a domestic dispute between a couple and the woman's juvenile son.
Around 12:05 a.m., a 14-year-old teen retrieved a weapon and fired a shot at a 38-year-old man. He was allegedly fighting with a 34-year-old woman, however, the nature of the fight is not known at this time.
The juvenile was detained and the weapon was recovered.
Expect spotty showers this afternoon as hot and muggy conditions roll in on Friday. Weekend weather will start high on Saturday before dipping on Sunday.
Trump opposes funding to USPS, acknowledging impact on mail-in voting
President Donald Trump declared Thursday that he opposes additional funding for the U.S. Postal Service, acknowledging that his position would starve the agency of money Democrats say it needs to process an anticipated surge in mail-in ballots during the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump also claimed anew — falsely — that Democrats were pushing for universal mail-in voting and predicted without providing evidence that mail-in voting would lead to massive voter fraud in the November election. Polls indicate Trump is in for a tough reelection fight against Democrat Joe Biden.
The Republican president said on Fox Business Network that among the big sticking points for a new congressional virus relief package were the Democrats’ demands for billions of dollars to assist states in protecting the election and to help postal workers process mail-in ballots.
“They need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” Trump said on “Mornings with Maria," adding, “If they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting because they’re not equipped to have it.”