Boyne City Public Schools back at the bargaining table with teacher contracts

boyne school board work session

Beth Gohs

Staff Writer

Shortly after Boyne City Public Schools made some difficult decisions regarding cutting staff and programs, now they are in talks about the teachers’ contracts.

June 27 was the first meeting between the Boyne City Public Schools Board of Education and the teachers association, after which Boyne City Public Schools Superintendent Peter Moss told the Boyne City Gazette they focused on opening the discussion about wages.

“Things are still cordial and collaborative, and both groups are going to get together in a couple weeks and present proposals and go from there,” he said.

Last year, teacher contract negotiations were extended into the school year because the teachers and the board each wanted concessions which created an impasse.

“(The budget cuts) have a major affect on (the contracts), the board will have a very tough time approving a contract that where all of a sudden our expenditures outweigh our revenues,” Moss said. “So I think that it means everything. And so it will determine, what if any raises can be given or if there has to be concessions.”

The Boyne City Gazette reached out to Boyne City’s Education Association President Dave Wilson, who said there is nothing to report after the first meeting involving contracts.

“I can say we will continue to meet and believe discussions will be positive and lead to a successful agreement,” Wilson said.

Moss said they are in the initial stages of negotiating. The board spent June passing their budget and now they can focus on contract negotiations.

“We’ve talked about one year (for contracts), there is a desire to look for longer range contracts, but that’s all part of the negotiating processes,” said Moss. “If wage salary and benefit packages are in place, obviously you can look at … is this a contract we can look at two to three years down the line or is this proposed settlement just going to be that we need to take it one year at a time. I would say that everybody is hopeful that it could be a multi-year contract.”

The current budget for the 2015-16 year will need $12,142,000 in revenues, and falls well under the board’s own policy of a 10 percent fund balance. The total appropriated budget is $12,153,985. During the Budget hearing, the board talked of replacing a retiring teacher, wherein the position will cost more because they weren’t paying retirement benefits for the current position.

“We still want to give our employees a fair wage and benefit package but at the same time we definitely gotta watch the bottom line,” Moss said.

Currently, the board is looking at wages and benefits for the teacher’s contracts, and haven’t talked about how long the contracts will be covered for; according to Moss.