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Posted on Fri, Sep 18, 2009 : 5:57 p.m.

Ann Arbor teachers ratify new contract without pay raise

By David Jesse

The Ann Arbor teachers' union ratified a new two-year contract with the school district, union President Brit Satchwell said this afternoon.

Union members voted Wednesday and Thursday.

Preliminary counts show 800 union members voted yes, Satchwell said. The union has 1,200 members total. Satchwell didn't know Friday afternoon how many teachers voted against it or how many total teachers voted.

The contract is the first in district's history to not include a pay raise. However, many teachers will still be paid more this year than last year due to step increases tied to education and years of service.

The contract covers the 2009-10 school year and the 2010-11 school year. It did not set a pay rate for next school year, largely because the district's finances are still unsettled. The district and union will have to return to negotiations to set those raises.

The district doesn't know how much per-pupil funding it will get from the state this year - nor does it know if county voters will approve a 2-mill tax in November that would bring $11 million a year to the school for the next five years.

The contract still has to be ratified by the school board, which could vote as early as Wednesday night.

In addition to teachers' pay, the 80-page contract sets the school calendar for this school year and next and details other changes for teachers.

Prescription drug co-pays will be going up. But the amount of money the district contributes for teachers' health care also will go up. Teachers can choose how they want to spend that money. If they opt for the most-expensive plan offered, they'll have to pay part of the cost. If they choose the lower-priced HMO, they'll get money back from the district.

David Jesse covers K-12 education for He can be reached at 734-623-2534 or at



Fri, Dec 4, 2009 : 11:22 a.m.

@A2Realilty and Barry: No step raises? Is this article from September in totally inaccurate? "The contract is the first in district's history to not include a pay raise. However, many teachers will still be paid more this year than last year due to step increases tied to education and years of service." For the record, I am just trying to "figure things out" here... it's hard to know what's going on when so many organizations claim they are taking a pay freeze but neglect to mention the typical 5% step raise that a large part of their membership receive every year.

Brit Satchwell

Tue, Sep 22, 2009 : 9:42 p.m.

Some facts to clear up some misconceptions and bald errors from the previous comments: Step pay increases in one form or another are widely used throughout the public/service sectors: military, police, fire, nursing, emergency medical techs, civil service, park service... they do not apply only to teachers. Steps are widely used throughout the public sector for market-driven reasons: to provide incentives to attract and retain quality employees in demanding public service professions where not only entry-level salary floors are established, but where maximum salary caps are also imposed. People join these professions knowing they will never hit the American dream of the financial "home run". Instead, they choose the American middle class dream, modest security over wealth. To lump teachers in with the few CEOs whose unethical deeds fill the headlines is cynical, unfair, and grossly misinformed. It is that sort of cynicism, among other hugely demanding aspects of the job, that encourages 50% of new teachers to leave the profession forever within their first 5 years of service to students... despite the steps that encourage them to stay. The steps in the AAPS pay scale go from years 1-10, with a small longevity bump at years 11 and 14. Mr. Jesse will hopefully check this because I do not have the exact info at hand as I write this, but I believe that about 2/3 of AAPS teachers have too much seniority to get any step increases at all. I do know that our most senior AAPS teachers have not received a single step raise in the past 20 years. The discussion about what different professions are paid and how they are paid is a valuable one that should be ongoing in an open demand economy such as ours, but the discussion's value is in direct proportion to the quality of the information that people bring to the discussion. The "noise" of misinformation makes it hard to hear the discussion clearly. One bit of information that Mr. Jesse has previously reported is that AAPS teachers have contractually agreed to enter into discussions with the district on the topic of merit pay. As the president of the teachers union and as a teacher, I invite the entire Ann Arbor community to contribute constructive thoughts and information to that discussion. "Noise" will make that discussion, like this one, hard to hear. Thanks for considering these comments.


Mon, Sep 21, 2009 : 9:30 p.m.

Do you work year around, with only a couple of weeks vacation? Automatic raises for service and education would be nice. Many people improve their skills to keep their job.

Matt Van Auker

Sun, Sep 20, 2009 : 4:26 p.m.

Finally, some sense of sacrifice. Who would have ever imagined, or thought.


Sat, Sep 19, 2009 : 10:20 p.m.

children people children, my child, your child, your nephew or neice, or perhaps your neighbors child....we all live in the same millage...please, IT TAKES A MILLAGE!!!! think of the children first before talking about teachers...thats all that matters!!!!!

Lynn Lumbard

Sat, Sep 19, 2009 : 3:16 p.m.

There are no step increases after the 10th year. I would guess the vast majority of our teachers have 10 or more years of experience!


Sat, Sep 19, 2009 : 11:19 a.m.

Lets see, a majority would be only 49% receive step that makes us feel much better.


Sat, Sep 19, 2009 : 11:01 a.m.

Step increases are designed to retain new teachers in a profession where more than half quit in the first five years. The majority of Ann Arbor teachers no longer get step increases.


Sat, Sep 19, 2009 : 10:52 a.m.

"Hold the Presses"!!! Step increases any way you look at them, are still increases...and in this economy when others have found it necessary to accept pay and benefit concessions, educators and the MEA, for some reason, consider themselves above and beyond all others in Michigan. Let them not forget, it is us the 'poor' taxpayers of Michigan, funding those very liberal paychecks and benefits...or have we already forgotten the 15.2% unemployment rate that we enjoy here in our state???


Sat, Sep 19, 2009 : 10:38 a.m.

Almost everything in jns131's post is factually incorrect. Beginning teacher pay in AA is $39,500, not $45,000. After tenure it is $50,000, not $75,000. Teachers will NOT be "getting a pay raise due to their old contract." With the new two-year contract, there are no pay raises. Millage money cannot go toward teacher salary.


Sat, Sep 19, 2009 : 10:30 a.m.

Ann Arbor teachers starting wage as a new teacher is $45,000. After tenure? $75,000. Gee, I wonder why they need a new mileage? Because they need the money to pay these teachers. This is why they voted down a pay raise. They are already going to get a pay raise anyways due to their old contract. The old contract does not change. All they do is add to it or make changes. This is why the teachers are happy with what they got. As for transporting the children? They keep voting that contract down because they do not see bus drivers as important assests to the effectiveness of happy children coming to school. Bus drivers work with the admins of each school. As Todd Roberts put it so well? If the mileage fails? You will be driving your children to school next year because there will be no money to pay the bus drivers. The only thing states mandate is special ed gets transportion. It is in the disabilities law until the child is 26. Glad to hear the teachers are getting their dues. When will AAPS wake up and realize that bus drivers need to be recognized as well. Guess never.

Dr. I. Emsayin

Sat, Sep 19, 2009 : 8:58 a.m.

Our state needs to train or retrain its citizens to do the jobs that will be needed in the future. Our county's schools have some such programs for students: auto technology, CAD, drafting, engineering design and problem solving, the hospitality industry (culinary arts), health science technology, and more. Many of these programs are expensive and have small classes. The millage is especially important in terms of programs like these, because these are the programs that will be cut, yet they are the ones needed to prepare students for actual careers in local industries. Our voters need to learn, like I did, what important programs local school systems provide for students, and which are likely to be cut (All?) if the millage doesn't pass. Some students come out of the school system with skills that put them right into the workforce. Let's not jeopardize our most vulnerable population! Vote to save tech ed!

Dr. I. Emsayin

Sat, Sep 19, 2009 : 8:57 a.m.

Good article

David Martel

Sat, Sep 19, 2009 : 8:15 a.m.

The article states: "...if county voters will approve a 2-mill tax in November that would bring $11 million a year to the school for the next five years." This thought could also be re-stated as: It is projected that a failure to pass the Washtenaw Schools Millage will result in a $200-$400 reduction in funding per student - $12-$15 million overall just in 2010. That is the equivalent of 220 full time teaching positions, leading to fewer programs and larger class sizes. Plus 2010 will be just the start of the long term damage. Deeper cuts must be made in 2011, 2012, and well into the foreseeable future. Let's consider the impact of the $11 Million loss. It's not a gain.


Sat, Sep 19, 2009 : 8:10 a.m.

In today's economy, I don't know of anyone getting a pay raise (except politicians and CEOs). Why should teachers be an exception? They can wait until the economy gets better, like the rest of us.

Alan Benard

Fri, Sep 18, 2009 : 10:15 p.m.

I'm pretty sure bruno was trying to be sarcastic, but it was hard to tell. Sometimes the desire to communicate sarcasm meets a lack of ability.Because the article is imprecise about how much the cost of health insurance is rising, it is not easy to tell if the teachers come out ahead or not.Mockery of the "it takes a millage" slogan is probably apt -- puns are annoying. But the underlying idea is sound. The *one* thing congressional Republicans and Democrats -- and President Obama -- can agree on is the great need to increase funding to community colleges, as deliverers of training programs. The only way out of the economic peril is to increase our education and skill levels. So, of course, our fools in Lansing *reduce* support for education by $110 per pupil, while Proposal A ties districts' hands to increase local funding, and our idiotic, Constitutionally mandated, regressive income tax makes it impossible to demand more from those best able to meet our needs and ease our peril.We need smarter citizens in Michigan and we're going to have to pay for them. The teachers in Ann Arbor have done their bit and -- if I understand the imprecise article -- will actually lose money when the cost of living rises. Taxpayers in Washtenaw County need to do their part and tax themselves, as Michiganders in general have hobbled their own ability to properly finance education, our most critical need.


Fri, Sep 18, 2009 : 8:14 p.m.

congratulations on the pay raise and still no increase in pay to benefits, teachers are way too important with our childrens future to worry about a state in economic peril, all i can say is it takes a millage people in november, get the word out....IT TAKES A MILLAGE!!!! and dont be shy to throw in some words about the children for those on the fence!!!