Teacher contract prevents loss of state funds

By JAMES MITCHELL

Sunday Times Newspapers

TAYLOR — WIth the clock ticking towards a Friday Michigan Department of Education deadline, the Taylor School District board of education ratified on Thursday its contract with the Federation of Teachers.

Supt. Diane Allen said that, if approved, the contract is expected to meet the district’s three-year deficit elimination plan goals.

“This tentative agreement will be instrumental in addressing and resolving the significant financial problems faced by the district,” Allen said in a statement.

After Thursday’s board meeting Allen said the teacher’s union is expected to vote on the contract Tuesday. Details of the agreement were withheld pending federation approval.

Taylor Schools were at risk of losing state funds if a revised agreement was not reached. Last month school officials were notified by Carol Wolenberg, Michigan Department of Education Deputy Superintendent, that the previous deficit elimination plan submitted last year was not approved.  Failure to submit a revised plan for eliminating an estimated budget deficit of $19 million.

“The law requires that we withhold the district’s school aid payment until an approvable plan is received,” Allen said.

Allen convened a special meeting on Jan. 19, discussed the state’s warning with union representatives, and negotiated a revised plan prior to Friday’s deadline.

Contract terms were expected to include reductions in salary costs that reportedly will be largely met through retirements. Labor agreements with the principal’s and director’s unions remained pending.

The district peaked in size during the 1970s with enrollment of more than 20,000 students. The 2011-12 academic year included less than 8,000 in attendance and several facilities have been closed or razed in recent years.