Utica Board approves two-year teacher contract with $9.4 million in savings
Utica Board approves two-year teacher contract with $9.4 million in savings
Posted on 03/01/2018
 February 26 Board Presentation

The Utica Community Schools Board of Education unanimously approved a two-year agreement with the Utica Education Association that provides $9.4 million in savings and slows the district’s structural deficit.

The agreement, approved by the board by a 6-0 vote at its February 26 meeting, follows nearly a year of bargaining that included both a mediation and fact finding process.

UCS Board President Gene Klida acknowledged the work of the UCS and UEA bargaining teams, indicating that Michigan’s current school funding system created a challenging environment for contract negotiations.

Klida noted that while an agreement was reached, continued work is necessary to bring district expenditures in line with revenue levels set by lawmakers.

“Through the work of the negotiating teams, we have addressed one side of the equation – the expenditure side. It is now time for the State of Michigan to address the second side of the equation – revenues,” Klida said. “Our state lawmakers must realize that the current school funding system is broken and needs to be replaced. We again call on our community to advocate for their schools by telling lawmakers it is time to fund the true cost to educate a child in Michigan.”

The agreement includes:

  • Five furlough days
  • Benefit change to high deductible health insurance
  • Dental insurance carrier change
  • Step freeze for the first year of the agreement (2017-2018)
  • Half-step freeze for the second year of the agreement (2018-2019)
  • A calendar for the 2018-2019 school year

The approved agreement mirrors the recommendations of an independent Fact-Finder.

In November, the parties mutually agreed to a Fact-Finder and the Fact-Finding process. A Fact-Finding hearing was held on November 28, 2017. Fact-Finding allows a neutral third party to review and analyze data and make a recommendation which is public. The Fact-Finder affirmed the district’s financial model was not sustainable unless changes were made.

The Fact-Finder noted four causal factors impacting the district:

  • Meager per pupil funding after a $470 cut in 2010-2011.
  • Decline in birth rates.
  • Failure of the State of Michigan to reimburse more than $18 million of special education costs, which had to come out of the district general fund budget.
  • School districts with comparable teacher pay had higher per pupil funding.

The agreement provides some expenditure relief to the district for two years. It allows a positive material change to the district’s finances. It slows a structural deficit although not totally eliminating it.

The agreement will run through June, 2019.