Janitors keep jobs, reduce pay and benefits

According to Boyne City Public Schools Business Manager Irene Byrne, the custodians and Boyne City Public Schools have come to a tentative agreement which will save the school system while saving jobs.
Business Manager Irene Byrne presents financial figures at a recent meeting of the Boyne City Board of Education (C. Faulknor/BC Gazette)
Business Manager Irene Byrne presents financial figures at a recent meeting of the Boyne City Board of Education (C. Faulknor/BC Gazette)

Boyne City’s janitors will keep their jobs—with cuts in pay, hours and a change in benefits.

 

According to Boyne City Public Schools Business Manager Irene Byrne, the custodians and Boyne City Public Schools have come to a tentative agreement which will save the school system while saving jobs.

“The association (support staff’s union) did bring forward that they would be willing to take a dollar an hour pay cut and then as far as our part-time employees … they would take a .50 cent reduction in pay,” she said. “They would also look at staffing level—approximately 11 employees, which would be about 58 hours of actual cleaning time per day in the buildings.”

There would be five eight-hour positions; two five-hour positions and two four-hour positions while maintaining an operations and maintenance supervisor and a groundskeeper, for a total of 74 hours.

“The other thing they were willing to look at was their insurance. They have proposed switching to the ADCD plan that MESA offers that is currently the same plan that our non-affiliated staff is on.”

They would also look at any new eight-hour position hires as single insurance subscribers only.

“Before we left that room that day, one staff member that was full family (insurance) voluntarily went down to single subscriber, so we would see a savings on that right away,” Byrne said.

Under the proposed plan, certain tasks would be dealt with nightly and some would be taken care of every other day.

Boyne schools officials had recently considered cutting nearly all of its 13 janitors in order to save an estimated $195,000 by switching to a third-party janitorial service.

The proposed employee concessions would save the schools an anticipated $127,874 annually.

The school system must cut between $500,000 and $550,000 in order to balance the 2013-2014 budget.

Assuming the school system balances its budget, the current estimated revenue for the 2013-2014 school year would be $12,125,948; the estimated operating expenses would be $12,125,948; the projected fund balance would be $1,445,710 or 11.92 percent of the budget.

The schools recently received notification that their health insurance would be increasing by an average of 4.1 percent; but, since school employees are going from paying 15 percent to a 20 percent co-pay, so that is actually a $20,000 savings in the upcoming year.

The overall proposed savings by eliminating janitorial staff would have included $195,000 savings in year one, $243,000 year two, $257,000 year three for a total of

There are currently 13 positions—five full-time and eight three-and-three-quarter hours positions.

Boyne City Public Schools Board of Education member Zareena Koch asked how the proposed decrease in cleaning hours would be handled.

Boyne City Public Schools Superintendent Peter Moss said they hadn’t gotten that far yet.

Moss also reported back to the board on the feasibility of levying another millage.

During the school board’s meeting previous to its Monday May 13 meeting Moss had been asked about the possibility of levying an enhancement millage to help increase funding to the local school districts.

An enhancement millage would have to be approved by at least half of the voters across the entire Char-Em ISD.

“As promised, I did talk to the ISD (Charlevoix-Emmet Intermediate School District) about an enhancement millage at our students meeting on Friday (May 10,” said Moss. “There was kind of a lukewarm reception to the concept. However, we’re going to carry forward the conversation in more depth at that level over the next few weeks.”

While Boyne City schools would likely benefit from such a millage, Harbor Springs would lose out on the deal because they might only get .75 cents returned on every dollar they put into the millage.

“There will be some winners and there will be some losers, and that is the difficulty when doing it ISD-wide and trying to gather widespread support,” Moss said.

Moss said the second thing he is closely watching is the discussion at the state level about a possible new road tax.

Moss said the Michigan Business Tax was undone in recent years to help businesses but that there had been a promise that the tax would be replaced somehow so schools would not be harmed.

“A couple years have gone by and nothing as happened,” he said…. “I’m wondering: is this the same scenario? They talk about taking some of the sales tax on fuel and send it to road repair and promising they will replace it.”

He added, “That could be a costly thing…. That could translate into $400 or $500 per student less.”

Adding to the potential financial woes, just a month ago Byrne reported to school board officials that, despite the state’s claims that the overall education funding for 2013-2014 has increased, Boyne City Public Schools are likely to see a loss of $27 to $146 per student.

“There is a real spin out there right now—with everything I’m hearing and reading—that schools have been given more money, proposed more money … but, when you run the numbers, it is a loss,” Byrne said.

“Overall in the ISD we are looking at a net loss of anywhere between $120,000 and $430,000 just within our locals,” Byrne said. “Boyne City’s piece of that is we could have a loss of anywhere from $36,000 to $67,000 just in per pupil funding.”

The overall sentiment of the board was that the custodial staff’s concessions were acceptable but nothing will be finalized until the board’s budget is passed—the 2013-2014 budget must be adopted by June 30.

If the plan is ultimately adopted it will be reviewed for efficacy during next year’s budgeting process.