Roseville district, teachers reach tentative contract

By: Kevin Bunch | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published January 29, 2014

ROSEVILLE — Teachers and administrators would be taking concessions under a tentative contract agreement reached between the teachers and the Roseville Community Schools. According to Superintendent John Kment, teachers and the superintendents, including him, would be taking a 5.5 percent pay cut in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years, compared to the previous contract. Additionally, they would need to take five unpaid furlough days this school year, and six for the next school year. “No one is smiling about it,” Kment said. “Usually, when you have a settlement, everyone is happy it’s taken place, but you have to do what you have to do to have a balanced budget.” The teachers have been operating without a contract since the last school year, Kment said, and while no one is happy with this contract, it means the district should continue to balance its budget for the duration. The contract would expire in August 2015. Kment said based on the percentage of the cuts, a teacher starting at $38,000 a year would see pay cut to somewhere around $34-35,000 instead — “a big hunk,” by his measurement. Deputy Superintendent Becky Vasil, who is in charge of negotiations and personnel, said while the agreement was only reached with the teacher’s union, previous concessionary bargains have been mirrored by the other six unions in the district, as well as the nonunion superintendents. “We’ve been in concessionary bargaining in the district for five years now, and each time reductions have been made, they’ve been taken by all employees in the district,” Vasil said. She said she intends on talking to the other unions over the next few weeks to see if they will mirror this agreement, as well. Board of Education President Theresa Genest was not happy with the concessions the teachers, administrators and support staff made to keep the district afloat, putting the blame in part on cuts in state funding for public education. She said that over the past few years, the school district has lost around $434 per student in foundation grant money from the state. Additionally, Genest said the school district has lost students overall, largely due to families moving either northward or out of the state. “We’re stable for this year and hopefully next year, so we’ll see what happens then,” Genest said. “We’ll see if we can get more money from the state, and more students in the schools. The cuts were already factored into this year’s budget, Genest said, so no major budget amendments will be necessary if the agreement is approved. She said the Roseville Community Schools has been dealing with these budgetary losses for years, something other districts have not prepared for, but this also means that staff members have faced changes to insurance and few, if any, raises. She praised the district’s work with school discipline and educational programs, but she said she did not like having to come up with concessionary contracts. “Things have to stop,” Genest said. “You can’t keep nickel-and-diming people to death.” The Roseville Federation of Teachers AFT Local 1071 could not be reached. The Roseville Board of Education is scheduled to vote on the contract at its Jan. 27 special meeting, after press time.