The contracts of Boyne City Public Schools’ teachers and some support staff may have expired three weeks ago but the unresolved discussions have been ongoing since spring.
According to Boyne City Public Schools Superintendent Peter Moss, the Boyne City Public Schools Board of Education wants to maintain student programs and athletics while keeping class sizes the same and avoiding reductions in staff, as well as maintaining a rainy-day fund equal to at least 10 percent of the school system’s overall annual cost of operations.
“We took it on the chin this year,” said Moss, of the school system’s loss of revenue last spring due to state-wide educational funding cuts. “So, we don’t have the resources to be able to settle a contract like some of our neighboring districts have.”
The three-year contracts expired on Sunday Aug. 31, but staff will continue working under the old contract language until a new contract is settled.
According to moss, two of the disputed items discussed have been the issue of cost of living increases and the amount of money employees are required to pay for their health insurance.
“I can’t get into the specifics because we are still making negotiations,” said Boyne City teachers union president David Wilson… “We are always willing to listen to ideas from the district and take those under advisement.”
He added, “I can’t say as we are willing to give up anything, except we are always willing to listen and to offer counteroffers as they occur.”
Several teachers asked the board to bring contract negotiations to a close during the Monday Sept. 8, Boyne City Public Schools Board of Education meeting.
“I think the process is going fine,” said Moss. “I think that we obviously have differences of opinion on our ability to pay. And, I think the associations feel that we have the ability to pay.”
He added, “We feel we are not where we need to be, revenue wise, to be able to fulfill some of their suggestions.”
Though it is relatively early—contract negotiations can last for years—if an agreement cannot be reached, a mediator could be brought in to help resolve the dispute.
“I feel like things are starting to go in a positive direction,” Moss said. “I think the talks have been pretty cordial. I think that one of the big questions, of course, is the amount of revenue and expenditures the district has for this coming year. And, as our enrollment is starting to take shape, I think that will help expedite the process a little bit more.”
Wilson said it is normal for negotiations to move slowly, adding that he, too, is confident a settlement will be reached in a reasonably short period of time.