Source: Sherman Publications

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Teacher contract okay’d
District to save $915,600 with healthcare contributions, no raises

June 15, 2011

By Joe St. Henry

Special Writer for The Review

Concessions were made and the Lake Orion Community Schools and its teachers' union have agreed to a new contract for the 2011-12 school year.

The district's Board of Education officially approved the contract at its June 8 meeting.

"I'm pleased with the outcome and glad we have an approved contract in place for the teaching staff in our district," said Margaret Hazlett, the district's executive director of human resources. "We appreciate the union's willingness to stick with the collective bargaining process."

The new contract with the Lake Orion Education Association runs through June 2012. Its terms dictate there will be no scheduled salary increases, commonly known as "steps," for teachers during the 2011-12 school year.

According to Hazlett, the district's healthcare insurance costs are expected to increase 7.9 percent next year. She said the LOEA made concessions to effectively pay for the entire healthcare cost increase.

The teachers' contribution to their healthcare insurance -- through payroll deductions -- was raised from 2.5 percent to 10 percent. In addition, their annual healthcare deductible was raised to $200 for single persons and $400 for couples and families (from $100-$200).

"When I joined the district in 2009, nobody contributed anything to their healthcare coverage," Hazlett said. "Our employees started to do so last year and they are contributing more next year."

A three percent lump sum payment will be made to all teachers in September. The $909,000 for this payment comes from a federal educational grant designed to help prevent teacher layoffs or wage reductions.

All told, the new contract will save Lake Orion Community Schools $915,600.

The school district also reached a contract agreement with the Lake Orion Secretaries Association for next school year, which also runs through June 2012.

Members of this group also agreed to increase their annual healthcare deductible to $200 for single persons and $400 for couples and families, as well as an increase in their healthcare insurance contribution from $5 to $10 per paycheck. These concessions from the 28 secretaries next year equate to $20,560 in savings for the school district.

"We have faith in the collaborative process and know there are creative ways to find the right solutions to meet both the district's and union's needs," said Hazlett, who added one-year contracts are common with concessionary bargaining. "The collaborative environment is alive and well in Lake Orion."