SAGINAW (WJRT) -
(08/28/14) - School doesn't start until Tuesday for most kids, but in Saginaw, it's teachers and staff who will board buses first.
They're heading out into the community Thursday afternoon to talk to people about the ABCs of back to school. They're expecting some math questions too, with teachers taking a 6 percent pay cut to help out the financially-strapped district.
A performance by Saginaw public school students was just one part of the district's opening session. At times, it was also was a pep rally and an awards ceremony. It closed with Superintendent Carlton Jenkins dancing with Kempton Elementary principal Dianne Dalton.
Before he danced, Jenkins gave the teachers and staff a state of the district address.
"This is a journey," he said.
The journey for dance teacher Meagan Bublitz has been bumpy in her seven years with the district.
"I've been laid off a couple times, but I've been called back every time," she said.
She has seen her pay cut by nine percent since the beginning of the last school year.
"It's difficult as a younger person," she said. "I have a family, so it is harder to go through those pay cuts, but I'm trying to stick through, I love what I do and I'm staying here for awhile," she said.
Teacher Shelley Frantom has two children, one in college.
"It's a necessary sacrifice that we have to make if we want to make Saginaw strong, I truly believe that," said "It's not the pay, that's not why we do what we do, we do what we do because we love our students and care about the community."
Jenkins appreciates the teacher's support.
"It's very moving," he said. "Our staff, our unions have come together, we have said, we are going to whatever we need to do to not only sustain Saginaw Public, but to take it to the next level."
Patricia Tatum Fairris was named teacher of the year.
"I don't look for pats on the back, I don't need them. I have a job to do, I have to be there for the kids, I have to give them what they are not getting, I am a home away from home," she said.
She says the pay cut won't change the way she does her job.
"I am going to keep it moving," she said. "That doesn't stop me from teaching my kids."