The Northville Board of Education ratified a two-year contract with the Northville Education Association (NEA) at its Tuesday, August 13, 2013 meeting. The contract was ratified by the NEA membership at a contract ratification meeting also on Tuesday, August 13, 2013.
The agreement, which covers the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years, includes a continuation of two unpaid furlough days. The agreement partially restores wage concessions taken by NEA members in the previous two-year contract. The contract also includes changes in the district’s health care plan, adoption of an extended time model for teacher professional development and collaborative work, and improvements in the new teacher mentoring program. The district maintains its self-insured status for health care.
“Despite more than a decade of challenging economic times, Northville Public Schools has continued to offer outstanding educational experiences for all students due in large part to the collective efforts and sacrifice of our talented teachers and staff at all levels,” said Northville Board of Education President Ken Roth. “As a result of this shared sacrifice, the district’s financial position has improved markedly over the past two years. This agreement reflects a true collaboration, balancing the desire to increase pay for employees who accepted significant concessions two year ago against the harsh reality of flat and uncertain revenues from the state and unpredictable employee retirement costs.”
Under the agreement, eligible teachers will receive a full step wage increase in the first year of the contract. Those not eligible for a step will receive a 1 percent “off schedule” wage increase in the first year of the contract. In the second year of the contract, those employees eligible for step raises will receive a full step increase and those not eligible for a step raise will receive a 1 percent “off schedule” wage increase if the Board of Education’s adopted General Fund Budget for the 2014-15 school year projects a General Fund Balance at or exceeding 10.5 percent of budget. If the district’s projected General Fund Balance falls below 10.5 percent for 2014-15, step eligible teachers will receive a half-step wage increase and those not eligible for a step raise will receive a 0.5 percent “off schedule” wage increase. All employees under the agreement will also receive a $550 stipend each year of the contract to offset the costs of classroom supplies and other job related expenses.
In addition, under the contract, future increases will be linked to the district’s Performance Evaluation System. Employees who were rated as “Ineffective” in 2012-13 are not eligible for steps or the 1 percent increase in 2013-14. Furthermore, any teacher who is rated less than effective for two consecutive years (2013-14 and 2014-15) will not be eligible for any wage increases, steps, or adjustments based on degree status that may be provided going forward to 2015-16.
The agreement with the teachers’ union allows employees to finish the balance of 2013 on their current health care plan with increased contributions. Effective in January 2014, employees may select from one of three Blue Cross plans which include both High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP) with a Health Savings Account and an option which is not an HDHP. Rather than paying 20 percent of the health care premium, employees will pay all costs that exceed Public Act 152 “hard cap” amounts set for public employees by the Michigan Department of Treasury for family, two-person and individual health care coverage. All plan options include a co-pay on presecription medications. The district also agreed to provide a cash in lieu of benefits options to the extent that it is cost neutral. The 2014 health care insurance options/plans agreed on by the NEA are the same options available to all eligible district employees.
In an effort to provide additional time for staff development and collaborative work, without impacting student and teacher instructional time, NEA members have agreed under the contract to work an additional 75 minutes one day a week during designated weeks. As part of this extended time model, the district will eliminate six one-hour professional development sessions and three hours of previously required online professional development. Overall, this change results in more than 21 additional hours for staff collaboration and professional development time for teachers to delve more in-depth into areas including technology integration, International Baccalaureate and school improvement initiatives.
The contract also maintains a school calendar for both years of 180 days of attendance, including two half-days for students and teachers on the first and last day of school (September 3, 2013 and June 12, 2014 for the 2013-14 school year). The calendar also reflects a move of the end of the semester teacher work day/furlough day to coincide with the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. The four student early release days that were part of the previous contract have been discontinued with the addition of the extended time model. In addition, to comply with changes in state requirements regarding the use of professional development time in calculating the required 1,098 hours of instructional time, the contract includes language regarding planning for an additional two to eight minutes that may need to be added to the school day beginning in the 2014-15 school year. To view the entire Northville Public Schools 2013-14 school year calendar, visit the district website at http://www.northville.k12.mi.us/node/487.
“On behalf of the Board of Education, I want express our sincere appreciation to the entire NEA membership for its continued willingness to take action to help protect the financial stability of our district during these challenging and unpredictable times for public education,” Roth said. “Without question, the willingness of the NEA, and all of our employee groups, to make the very difficult concessions two years ago has played a key role in improving the district’s financial standing. We are pleased to be able to reach fair, competitive and sustainable employment agreements with all of our employee groups that focus on providing the best possible educational programs for our students.”