Grosse Pointe News


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BoE approves contracts, teachers still waitingFree Access

THE GROSSE POINTES — The Grosse Pointe Public School System Board of Education approved one-year contracts with three bargaining groups and gave raises to non-union employees at its meeting Tuesday, July 25, while negotiations with the Grosse Pointe Education Association continue.

Contracts approved with unions representing office personnel, paraprofessionals and maintenance workers include new salary schedules and longevity bonuses. What is commonly referred to as “the formula” will not go into effect during the contracts. Said formula calls for employee pay cuts if the district’s fund equity balance falls below 10 percent and awards bonuses if it gets above 15 percent. Under the fiscal year 2023-24 budget passed by the board in June, fund equity stands at 9.6 percent.

Non-union employees, including executive administrators — with the exception of Superintendent Jon Dean — will receive step increases and a 2 percent raise.

The agreement between the Grosse Pointe Administrators Association and the board runs through June 30, 2024, although some board members have called for a one-year extension.

Two administrators have already left the district. Dan Hartley, director of secondary instruction, will be the new principal at Bloomfield Hills High School, while Stefanie Hayes, director of special education, left to take a position with Ferndale Public Schools. Roy Bishop, deputy superintendent for educational services, is a finalist for the superintendent job in Bloomfield Hills.

Most of the focus of the meeting, however, was on contract talks with the GPEA, which represents about 590 teachers. Its current two-year agreement expires Tuesday, Aug. 15.

Around three dozen teachers lined the driveway to Brownell Middle School before the meeting wearing matching red T-shirts and holding signs that read “You Can’t Put Students First If You Put Teachers Last.”

More than 1,340 people have signed an online petition telling the board that teachers “deserve a fair contract now.”

Those same teachers then filled the first few rows of the Brownell multipurpose room during the meeting.

Some 20 people spoke during public comment in support of the teachers, many of them GPEA members.

Taryn Loughlin, GPEA co-president, said it’s important to get a new contract finalized because several teachers have left to go to other districts for “better pay and stability.”

Several teachers said they know of at least 21 colleagues who have done so since the end of the school year.

Laura Hull, who was a math teacher at Grosse Pointe North High School, is one.

“I felt insecure and fearful for the future,” she told the board. “I went back to my former district for higher pay and was welcomed back with open arms.”

Katie Parent, an English teacher at Grosse Pointe South High School, said the board has so far rejected the GPEA’s request for a 3 percent raise, although the union has not officially said that is what it asked for.

The current budget includes $875,000 for employee raises, although Board President Ahmed Ismail previously told the Grosse Pointe News that amount probably will be increased to $1.5 million once all negotiations are done.

“This takes most of the increase in state funding and passes it on to our staff members, with the balance being used to rebuild our depleted fund equity,” he said.

Per-pupil funding for the coming school year will be the highest ever, with an increase of $458 per student over last year.

Dean said while the teachers were able to share their concerns at the meeting, the board and administration could not respond.

“It’s important that we listen, but we can’t say anything because the solution has to come at the bargaining table,” he said.

Photo by Renee Landuyt
Members of the Grosse Pointe Education Association stand outside Brownell Middle School before a Board of Education meeting in June. Teachers did the same thing before the board meeting Tuesday, July 25, as contract negotiations continue.