Teachers union, school district agree to contract

By: Robert Guttersohn | Royal Oak Review | Published July 1, 2014

CLAWSON — After a year of negotiations, the Clawson Public Schools and the teachers union came to an agreement on a new contract retroactive to August 2013 and that extends through August 2015.

The Clawson Board of Education approved the contract at a special meeting June 19.

The contract calls for teachers to take a 3 percent pay cut in fiscal year 2015 and freezes all lane changes for teachers, meaning those who obtain an advanced degree will receive no pay increases.

Kelly Pearson, the Clawson Education Association president, said nine teachers had completed enough advanced credits to be eligible for lane changes and another 21 have plans to do so this year.

“That’s a total of 30 people who paid to get advanced degrees who will not be compensated for it,” Pearson said.

Under the contract, teachers now must pay full premiums for dental, vision and long-term disability insurance, which equates to a 1.5 percent pay reduction.

The contract states that negotiations for the next contract must begin by November, after the student-enrollment count is completed and the district has a better understanding of its funding from the state.

Board of Education President Kevin Turner said he and the rest of the board were “pleased” an agreement was reached.

“We are pleased that we have some peace over the summer and can now concentrate on growing our enrollment and looking forward to the new school year,” Turner said.

Pearson said the union was willing to agree to the 3 percent wage reduction out of concerns of having a contract imposed on the teachers. The district had asked for a 7 percent wage cut with additional health insurance concessions. In March, the negotiations entered the fact-finding stage. Once that was completed, the district could have imposed a contract with steeper cuts.

Pearson said she was grateful for the support from the community throughout the negotiation process. The teachers, she said, were inspired by the number of parents and community members who came to board meetings and spoke on behalf of them, and placed yard signs in their front lawns to support teachers.

“It made us feel good to know we had so much community support,” Pearson said.

Superintendent Monique Beels said in a statement that the entire district administration and staff also would be taking a 3 percent pay cut and pay additional premiums toward health care.

“This agreement will result in our maintaining a healthy community — not one that mortgages the school district and jeopardizes the future of our students,” said Beels in the statement. “It also enables us to continue providing students with the support they require to achieve academic excellence.”