The Boyne City Public Schools were under negotiations employee contracts since May, 2014 and through much deliberation and compromise, the contracts were resolved Nov. 10, 2014—but it won’t be long before the process begins again.
The new contracts are set to expire Aug. 31, an agreement made by both the board and education association but when interviewed the superintendent and president of the education association seemed to differ on why.
“The contract was a one-year agreement. So we’ll be negotiating again this summer,” said Peter Moss, Superintendent of BCPS. “The last one lasted three years, this one was a one-year, so it varies. I would say that you’re seeing a lot more of agreements going for a shorter period of time simply because of the uncertainty of school funding.”
While Dave Wilson, president of the education association said he didn’t know if the idea to negotiate a one-year-contract was the board’s, he said the teachers were not hoping for that.
“I do know in discussions it was mentioned that the district is always concerned with finances down the road two to three years out,” said Wilson. “As far as I understood that was not our position whatsoever, that we have a say in a one year contract. So I can’t tell you anything further than that, that was definitely not our position.”
One of the major changes to come out of the negotiations was the salary structure. According to Moss, the structure is less than it was four years ago.
“From the board’s standpoint, we were able to get that restructuring of the contracts at the same time,” he said. “We held everybody harmless which meant no one had to take a pay cut.”
Goals of the board were to maintain class-size-to-teacher ratios, maintain student programing and maintain a 10 percent equity fund. Moss said he was content with keeping those goals as the school-year progressed.
Wilson told the Gazette the teachers are disappointed with the 10 percent equity fund the board wanted to maintain, and that the money could be used for other resources.
“The district has their philosophy on fund equity and how much to be there,” he said. “We feel that there are other schools in the area that negotiated settlements that were very equitable and very fair and managed to do it and be under 10 percent. But the philosophy of the district and the board here is that 10 percent was their bottom line so it was kind of difficult to go in and negotiate anything that they would accept to keep.”
Although the school will be negotiating again in a matter of months, Moss told the Gazette that despite the troubles that occurred during the process, the negotiations went smoothly.
“I think, generally speaking, it was a settlement that matched the conditions of the environment,” Moss said.
Wilson thought the contract negotiations could have gone better as far as including more of what the teachers hoped to receive.
“We are going to be back at it again in less than a couple of months and again people would have liked to have something settled for something a bit longer term (but) we roll with what we have,” he said.