FLINT (WJRT) (08/28/19) - Teachers in the Flint Community Schools district have a new contract that they have been waiting on for years.
"Last night we had a ratification vote 96% in favor of it, which brought it here to the special board meeting which they just now approved also," said United Teachers Union President Karen Christian.
She said says the one-year agreement addresses a number of issues, like class sizes.
"It was very difficult having up to 36 kids in a classroom especially in the elementary levels. So being able to get those down to 27 to 28 in a classroom will help with us being able to teach the kids and and be able to raise those scores that we have been working towards," Christian said.
Higher wages is another issue for teachers. The contract raises the starting salary for entry level employees by about $3,000 a year and gives every teacher in the district on average a 2% raise.
The contract also rewards teachers for staying in Flint with longevity bonuses beginning at five years in and increasing every five years.
"We are hoping that will encourage teachers to stay in our district for loyalty bonus and that kind of stuff for longevity," Christian said.
The new agreement comes as the district attempts to address the teacher shortage. Over the summer Flint Schools saw 26 resignations and seven retirements.
"It was difficult, but it also because of the fact that we haven't had a raise in so many years, so being able to do this we are hoping will bring more people in and keep them in the long run," Christian said.
She said there is also a focus on substitute teachers.
"We used to have a long time ago guest teachers in our bargaining unit. We are going back to that again, so that once a teacher is in a long-term position, hits their 61st day, they become contract. No contract and they go to the first tier on the contract" Christian said.
The agreement is only good for this school year. The teachers union and the district expect to go back to the bargaining table in November.