Dearborn School Board approves $161 million budget

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN – About 18 teachers could lose their jobs as part of a budget adopted June 27.

The $161 million budget, for the 2011 to 2012 school year, also calls for cuts to various services which would help to eliminate a projected $3 million gap in projected revenues and expenses. In addition, members of the board of education, Supt. Brian Whiston and all 1,200 teachers agreed to wage concessions.

District spokesman David Mustonen said salary reductions have gone up since the 2009 to 2010 school year, and now add up to $8,000, a decrease of about 8 percent since that school year.

He said that teachers at the top end of the pay scale will see a 6 percent salary reduction; salaries for all other teachers will be reduced 6.5 percent and salaries for all other nonunion positions and school principals will go down about 8.1 percent, a figure Mustonen said is still in flux because more details must be worked out in the contract. He added that the agreement is not a “win-win” for anyone.

“We’d rather keep people working,” he said. “This is not a good situation. The last thing the superintendent wants to do is take wages away. However, it is a solution to saving jobs.”

Also impacting the district is the loss of about $7 million in state funds, including $800,000 in Title 1 funds, which are allocated to help students who need additional help in math or reading.

The district also was one of two in the state to have 31a At-Risk funds cut, a loss of about $5 million. The At-Risk program allows for a district to provide supplementary help for those students who do not meet certain criteria, such as low Michigan Educational Assessment Program scores in English, math and science.

Officials are working with state legislators to see if the district meets criteria under Gov. Rick Snyder’s “best practices” plan, which could mean the return of some teachers. Those criteria include consolidating services with other districts, meeting academic standards and teachers paying 20 percent of their own health care costs.

The plan would allow for an additional $100 per student, which would further ease the budget difficulties, a district press release said. The Dearborn Federation of Teachers union also voted in May to approve a contract which would allow them to choose their own health care plan, which would save the district an additional $4 million in health care costs.