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16 teachers nixed, wage cuts OK'd

Administration agrees to wage concessions

May 19, 2010 - By David Fleet


Goodrich-Wage concessions and layoffs—key components presented by the school board on Monday night to balance a sagging budget gripping the district.

The two pronged effort, which will hopefully erode a staggering $2.2 million deficit, was initiated by a 6-1 vote to lay off 16 teachers in the district, cutting more than $900,000 from the 2010-11 school budget. The district employs 112 teachers.

Trustee Lynne Morisette voted no on the layoffs.

Michael Tripp, board president, said school officials were up against a contractual deadline to notify teachers of the layoffs—action came earlier this year to pink slip 21 teachers. The formal action was completed on Monday night when the 16 teachers selected from across the district, based on seniority and certification, were notified.

"We hope as we work through this difficult time the majority of these teach-ers laid off will come back to the district," he said. "It's like hitting a moving target," said Tripp, with regard to balancing the budget. "Right now all groups are in negotiations—both (union) represented groups and non-represented groups, which include secretarial staff and kitchen staff."

School officials said several factors could still impact the actual number of teachers that may lose their jobs this fall, including the retirement of teachers from the district along with a host of variables yet to be determined. Other possibilities include the amount of per-pupil funding which is still under debate in Lansing. School officials say it could dip by as much as $433 per student in the worst case scenario. Also an uncertain fluctuation in enrollment for next year which dropped by 20 students (costing the district about $140,000) in the February count could also impact the budget. In addition, issues such as another insurance carrier besides MESSA (Michigan Education Special Services Association) could save the district $500,000.

"It's difficult to do," said Trustee Jeff Gardner, who supported the layoffs. "(But) it's more selfish to not tell the teachers. We owe it to them. Let them know now."

Trustee Morisette, who decided to step down from the board this June, asked the board to wait on the vote until more variables regarding the level of funding were known.

"Do we have to make these layoffs tonight?" asked Morisette. "I just can't bring myself to do this."

Tripp said the reduction in the number of teachers could increase the class size from about 22 students to approximately 26 to 27.

"The size will not be ideal," he said. "However, it will not be detrimental to education of the Goodrich students."

In addition to announcing the layoffs, Superintendent John Fazer said a compensation reduction plan for10 administrators, which includes building principals and supervisors, will utilize a sliding scale index beginning with a 5 percent reduction for any employee above $100,000 (per year). The reduction then slides down at a rate of .125 percent for every $5,000.

"The percentage rate drops as your income drops," said Fazer. The lower the income, the lower the percentage of pay cut."

The compensation reductions, which go into effect on July 1, will save the district $44,800 per year, added Fazer.

Even with the layoffs and reductions, which combined total $944,800, the district is still short about $1.2 million in necessary cuts.

"At this time we are on hold based on state funding and the retirement situation," said Fazer. "We are considering other options."

"There will be other reductions to get to the $1.2 million, along with other possible scenarios which could include privatizing. Administrators and supervisors are also asking other employee groups to also consider wage concessions."

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