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BEA contract reached

Deal includes enrollment "triggers" for pay increases

April 02, 2014 - Brandon Twp.- Teachers and administration in the district have reached agreement on a contract after nearly two years without one.

The Brandon Education Association and district officials issued a joint statement on March 31 that a settlement has been agreed upon. Terms of the contract include teachers paying only the state mandated portion of their health coverage and more options during open enrollment, including a higher deductible. A 7.5 percent reduction in teachers' pay implemented last July after failed state mediation will remain in place; however, some of the pay reduction could be restored, as well as step increases that have been frozen for several years, if student enrollment remains steady or is not as bad as projected.

"I think this is very good," said Superintendent Lorrie McMahon of the contract. "We wish we could do more, but it is wonderful to have it settled and going back to working collaboratively with the BEA."

The contract, which goes through June 2015, has what McMahon calls "triggers" for pay increases. If the district suffers no enrollment loss, teachers will receive a step increase, plus 1.5 percent will be returned to the salary schedule. A loss of 25 students will result in a step increase and 1 percent returned; a 50-student loss will mean a step increase and a .5 percent increase on the salary schedule; 75 students lost will give teachers 1.5 percent back in the salary schedule, but no step increase; a loss of 100 students will give 1 percent back in salary, but no step increase; and a loss of 125 students means .5 percent back in salary and no step increase. If the district loses 126 or more students, there will be no step increases and no change in current salary.

Teachers receive step increases, essentially automatic pay increases, based on years of service from years one through 11 in the district. Step increases have been frozen for several years.

The contract also contains a voluntary resignation incentive. A teacher with 10 years or more in the district is vested in the state retirement system. If a teacher is at step 10 and opts to resign this year, they will receive a bonus of $5,500 under the contract incentive. McMahon said a teacher who resigns will not be replaced, or replaced with someone with a lower salary, resulting in a savings to the district.

"The loss of experience is serious, but this is an option for someone looking at a second career," said McMahon. "It gives someone an option to leave the district with a little more. We don't know who will take advantage, but it's a support for the teachers."

As a result of the contract agreement, the BEA will withdraw an unfair labor practice charge against the district, which resulted from the 7.5 percent salary reduction imposed last year.

BEA President Patrick Montgomery said of the contract, "It puts us into a positive trajectory as an association and I look forward to working on issues in the district in a collaborative light."

Those issues, he said, are keeping the students currently in the district, and attracting new ones as the district moves forward.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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