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Posted on Tue, Feb 9, 2010 : 11:40 p.m.

Facing continued deficits, Saline school district cuts 6 teachers

By Ronald Ahrens

The Saline school district will eliminate four teachers and two long-term substitutes, a decision expected to save $400,000 over the course of the remainder of this school year and next.

The school board voted unanimously to make the cuts during tonight's meeting at Liberty School.

“It’s obviously an extremely difficult time for us as a district and a staff,” Superintendent Scot Graden told the several dozen parents, students, teachers and residents who turned out in the snow.

Thumbnail image for Scot_Graden2.JPG

Saline Superintendent Scot Graden

Graden said more cuts would come “as we try to adjust.”

Beset by declining enrollment and dwindling revenues - and after already implementing a pay-to-play policy for sports - the district is still faced with a deficit of $750,000 this year. That's expected to grow to $3.6 million for 2010-2011.

A pay-to-participate plan in organizations such as student council is next on the list.

Saline’s current budget is $52 million. District savings will be tapped to cover the present budget shortfall, officials said.

Laid off as of March 17 will be a middle school English and history teacher, a high school physical education teacher and a special education staff member in the fifth- and sixth-grade center. The fourth full-time teacher splits between the middle and high school drama programs.

“It has to be done - I hate it,” said trustee Lisa Slawson. “I just think it’s a travesty. What’s best for the kids isn’t having this upheaval in the third trimester.”

But Slawson and others agreed the blame can’t continue to be placed on state government.

“We have to take care of what is here in Saline, Michigan,” she said. “We can lobby till we’re blue in the face.”

Also during the meeting, the 13-member Saline Area Schools Administrators’ Association announced it would accept a pay cut of 1.25 percent this year and 2.5 percent next year. The cuts will save $57,000 over the next 18 months.

“Tough times often call for tough decisions to be made,” said SASAA President Eric Diroff.

Health care benefits for SASAA members are also under review.

Declining enrollment - a recent phenomenon - is beginning to sting Saline, where the athletic teams are called the Hornets.

“We’ve been reducing staff and cutting back personnel for the last several years,” said Steve Laatsch, assistant superintendent of instructional services. “It’s just that we’re feeling that this budget crisis is bigger than we’ve ever had to deal with before.”

Next on the chopping block is the possible closing of buildings. Union School - the community landmark that accommodates administrative offices - could be shuttered, with administrators being moved among other facilities.

Preschool and kindergarten classes at Houghton Elementary would also be given new quarters if that building is closed.

Laatsch estimated the savings at $600,000 per year.

Even then, with up to 100 fewer freshmen expected in each of the next four terms, the scalpel will be needed.

“It’s unlikely that this will be the last of teaching staff reductions,” Laatsch said.

Ronald Ahrens is a freelance writer for Reach the news desk at or 734-623-2530.



Sun, Feb 28, 2010 : 12:28 a.m.

Because otherwise there will be layoffs, its as simple as that.

The Grinch

Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 9:04 a.m.

Given that the state is looking to impose a mandatory 4% or 5% (depending on the plan) pay cut on all public employees, why should any public employee union agree now to a cut only to have their pay cut again by the state?


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 8:26 a.m.

@salinemom, You are the best, keep up the factual, precise posts please. I have yet to disagree with anything you have said.


Mon, Feb 15, 2010 : 7:20 p.m.

@befair Forward those suggestions on to Tim Heim, President of the Saline Education Association, and he will laugh himself to sleep tonight. All those ideas involve concessions to the district and the SEA has not, nor will not offer anything of real means unless they get something back. Like the "loan" of their raise for this year to extend an overly rich contract one more year. They'd rather continue to lose membership, then lose anything in concessions.


Sun, Feb 14, 2010 : 9:59 a.m.

I understand that tough times can bring out the worst in people, but the vengeful, "it happened to me so it should happen to you" tone of these comments is shocking. Yes, people are going through hard times now and losing benefits. Yes, there are lots of unemployed people in Michigan. But some of you have made the assumption that somehow the teachers haven't felt those changes. Maybe their spouses have lost their jobs. Maybe their kids have come back home unable to find a job. Saline teachers pay taxes, and Saline teachers have lost property value just like everyone else. No one is immune from the effects of a slow economy. I don't understand the logic behind wanting to have even more citizens of Saline out of work. The continued and archaeic perception that teachers a selfich and rich is astounding. The hourly wage, if you were to figure it that way, of the average teacher is not as much as many people seem to believe. I am and educator and obviously I feel deeply about this issue, but I teach in a district outside of Saline. Do Saline's teacher make more than we do? Yes. Do they work harder? No. I do believe the teacher's union should make some concessions, but not in the way you're all arguing. They just decided to "go green" by using a spooling printer system. Green? That would have saved the district lots of financial green years ago. How about getting rid of trimesters and going to a traditional system? How about cutting stipends for extra duties? How about reducing you non-educational support staff? Not the people who teach classes, but the number of people you have doing everything else. It's not impossible--other schools have done it for years. How about telling everyone to work harder for their money rather than cut benefits and salaries? The school board, the administrators, and the teachers need to sit down with some real ideas and begin thinking outside of the box. Yes, it can be inconvienient to walk down the hall for the paper you printed, but would you rather walk or have a friend get laid off? Teachers don't need to lose their jobs, and there doesn't have to be a pay cut for everyone. Work smarter. Find your wasted expenses, and figure out how to get rid of them. Pay to play doesn't have to be the answer. How about fundraise to play? or base your stipends off a base salary rather than a step? The financial problems in a district don't always have to be mended by compensations from the staff (loss of staff and pay freezes), they cam be compensations from convienience...everyone's convienience.


Sat, Feb 13, 2010 : 12:19 p.m.

I graduated from Saline High School in 1977. Have had two kids graduate, have one in high school now and have a one year old who will soon be going to Saline school. Saline has great schools and the teachers for the most part are awsome but our current financial crisis demands change. This must come with the help from the SEA as they make up more than 70% of the budget. There is no majic money tree where we can get more funding. As a concerned taxpayer I want to remind everyone that the Saline School board really does not have your best interest in mind in my opinion. They are speaking out of both sides and trying to placate everyone. Two of the current members Mr. Friese and Mr.Medley are retired public school teachers. They most certainly are beholden to the SEA and the MEA.

Go Blue

Sat, Feb 13, 2010 : 10:57 a.m.

When is the American public going to wake up? We are in a fiscal environment experienced only by our great grandparents and never since until now. The Great Depression of current is just that. People continue to lose their jobs, homes, cars, pets - everything. They are wiped out and have to start over. That the governmental, school, unions, etc. systems are not stepping up to the plate and are still indulging in frivolous expenditures only shows how spoiled decision makers have become. How complacent and used to money rolling in they are. They are not experienced in how to pinch pennies or cut back - its a totally foreign process to so many and that is pathetic. Maybe some training by the old timers who knew how to work with hardly anything would be the much needed wake up call. Squabbling and fighting over money that no longer exists is moronic. Get with the agenda - its a cold, hard world out there now and it is long past time the higher ups need to stop the whining and get on board with the reality of our current economy. Face the reality because its not going to change just because they want it to


Thu, Feb 11, 2010 : 11:32 p.m.

I've learned today that one of the teachers laid off is Mr. Ceo, who is my son's team leader, Language Arts, and Social Studies teacher. He is a very fine first year teacher who is a victim of his lack of seniority. He will be sorely missed and my son and the many other students he has been working so hard for will be turned over to a substitute teacher they've never met. If this isn't disruptive to a child's education, I don't know what is. Very upsetting. We wish him the best as he will obviously be unemployed from March 17 (honestly can't he even finish the school year?!) until the following fall.


Thu, Feb 11, 2010 : 10:53 p.m.

@bornblu, Ram, InsideTheHall, SalineDad and SalineMom - Excellent comments, kudos to each of you.


Thu, Feb 11, 2010 : 9:35 p.m.

Ram you are spot on. The SEA is defending the status quo. The administration is trying to play both sides...placate the union and the taxpayers. It is time for the administration to choose. The SEA defined the debate by refusing to bring forth away meaningful solutions to the financial dilemma. When 75% of the budget is tied up in salaries and bennies something has to give. We can have all the committees in the world trying to save pennies while tripping over the real dollars. The elephant in the room is the SEA and they made it a UNION v Parents/Students conflict. We are watching the SEA closely and will remember what path they took when the community needed them to step up. Sitting on their contract for the next two years is NOT an option.


Thu, Feb 11, 2010 : 7:10 p.m.

Brit: Come on, get real. Take a look at all the posts on this page, ask around the community, listen to what everyone stated at the Saline Board of Education meeting on February 9. Taxpayers are fed up with the Union, and they refuse to play their games any longer. Why a highly educated professional needs a Union today is beyond me. You can't say a no-vote is any more on the side of the Union than it is against it; all we have to go off of is those who took the initiative to vote. Furthermore, we have the words of those who contact individuals such as Mr. Graden and the Saline Board of Education. I'm sure they have heard from more parents who feel that the Union needs to take concession than from parents who feel we can afford to continue the status quo. You say you "don't mean to imply that anybody is a socialist or a capitalist," yet may I quote "But when the invisible hand of the markets they revere turns against them and they are on the way down, they are suddenly socialists." Enough said buddy. I seriously think that private employers are cutting wages because of basic market principles. Americans have overspent, under saved, and live beyond our means as a nation for too long. I see the recession as a necessary hardship because IT IS REAL! What do you see the recession as? Some fairy tale hardship that one only has to be subject to if one chooses? Our national debt is atrocious, and we have to face reality. Everyone in America has to take a step back in terms of spending, whether they like it or not. Private sector employees are taking in less money. Public sector employees, such as teachers, are employed by us the taxpayers. Therefore, the taxpayers CANNOT afford to pay these public sector employees the same as we did when our incomes were higher. Do you really not see the cause and effect here? If not, you must not have a grasp of simple reason. I agree with you on Lansing. I don't have any original material to say there, the system of education funding is quite broken in Michigan and everyone knows it. I'd like to see what you have to say to Hornet. Sounds like you really irked them. To anyone else who is following this article, and realizes that groups such as the SEA aren't actively helping communities fix the problem of education funding in Michigan, I urge you to get involved. Please attend a board meeting, email your legislator, contact someone such as Mr. Graden or the Board of Education. The status quo is broken, and now is the time for solutions.


Thu, Feb 11, 2010 : 6:08 p.m.

@ Brit, Lisa, Ralph, Steve, and others: I am primarily retired and live in Saline, my children have graduated from the Saline schools and my grandchildren will be attending them also. My wife is a retired teacher (32 + years). I have voted both for and against various millages dependent upon what I felt the worthiness and value would be. Brit, the problem isn't in Lansing, it's in every community and it is the responsibility of that community to define and determine how they wish to approach (fund) education. I understand the loss of state funds, but to reduce the current problem to Lansings actions is really to "put your head in the sand". Additionally, as I have mentioned to Lisa in other posts, it is my strong belief that the responsibility for my chidlrens education is primarily parental. Teachers are not the be all, end all of education, they provide a wonderful enviornment where my children can learn, but without parental support there are substantial limitations. This is not to belittle or show lack of respect for the hours of work, dedication, etc. that you provide, education you have, or the income you earn, just my perception of the reality of public education. I have previously said, my kowledge of school financies is somewhat limited and I can not produce (or verify) facts as they have been presented. My knowledge is only "that we don't have enough money to pay our bills". We can speak of fixing education, changing Lanasing, showing more respect to all in the educational business, but that doesn't solve our problem now. I don't know how to do it, but it seems we have to spend less. Some costs are fixed, others aren't, some costs represent signinficant portions of the deficits, others little. Without your reiteration of "lansing needs to fix the problem, enact new millages, you do not respect my profession or right to bargin, etc.", none of which will add revenue or reduce expenses, my questions to you are how do you propose to balance the current budget, what immediate cuts or reductions would you make to immediately balance the budget (no more money is currently available), what fees would you increase or begin (within the community) to balance the budget? For as much as others indicate those in the educational process are the problem, how do you see those involved contibuting to allieviate the problem (deficit). You, and those who disagree with your positions, need to get past the "poor me" agendas, become part of the solution, not the problem, and deal with the real issues that are present. That again, quite simply, is not enough money for all we want.

Brit Satchwell

Thu, Feb 11, 2010 : 5:10 p.m.

Ram, I am not challenging the outcome of the vote. I am, however, aghast that you would interpret the result as if you have some sort of secret inside track into the minds of others. With respect, the millage's wording included not one word about teachers or teacher compensation. Not one word about unions. It is nothing but hyperbolic spin to translate "I won't pay more" (the millage vote) into "I think you should give more" (personal opinion). By no means are they the same outside of some folks' wishful thinking. I worry whenever somebody claims such self-serving knowledge of why folks voted as they did. Wouldn't it be just as fanciful to say that the will of the people was "I think teachers should be paid more but I can't chip in right now?" You impute your opinion to others and then compound the error by presenting it as fact. But again, when the "majority" is only 12.5% of the electorate, isn't the outcome really more of a whimper than a mandate? "The people have spoken!"... not really... they stayed home. I don't mean to imply that anybody is a socialist or a capitalist. I'm highlighting the rather hypocritical 180-degree difference between what one heard from those who reaped huge gains in the 80's and 90's as compared to their tone now in tougher times... from self-made bootstrap Horatio Algers (I earned mine) to "share and share alike" (I deserve yours)... the only connection between the two is its self-centered aspect. Do you seriously think that private employers are cutting wages because of some analysis of what the overall economy needs? I get the impression that you see the recession as some necessary hardship imposed by wise and knowing corporate patrons from above. Should we eat the gruel and stop complaining because "fiscally intelligent" masters of industry have decreed that less is more? (Yikes!) Please have Ayn Rand call me, OK? I want to agree with you here on something before I back out very slowly. The public can, should, and indeed always has had their say re teacher compensation. Their bargaining team has been in every contract negotiation in the history of their district. Their team is the administrators who carry the Board of Education's positions. As a matter of fact, it was at those bargaining tables that the public's bargaining team signed off on every contract that leads to the wages and benefits teachers now have. And it will be at the bargaining table that teachers and their administrators will navigate the current hardships made possible by the public's (we ALL share the blame for Lansing) failure to devise a system that funds education adequately in this state.


Thu, Feb 11, 2010 : 4:18 p.m.

@Brit - Next time you go off on someone's opinion, please take the time to read all the words. In my earlier post I noted that voter turnout was atrocious as it is in most elections in this country. Voter turnout during gubernatorial election years in Michigan is rarely over 50% either (and sometimes far lower). It is typically 35-40% for federal seats in non-presidential years. However, the way elections work is that you count the votes and the majority wins. You cannot take into consideration those who did not vote so the margin for the millage was 3 to 2 in opposition to the millage (and more like 2 to 1 in the Saline area precincts - source listed below), which is a pretty decisive victory against additional taxes. I also noted that I voted for the millage. I don't see how this stretches the bounds of reason. In response to your question as to why taxpayers would want to reduce your pay and benefits while they are seeing their pay and benefits reduced is because you are paid with OUR money. It is not vengeance, but it is reality that people don't have as much to give during these times and are asking the teachers union (SEA) to help the community out. To date, every other part of the Saline School system including parents has brought some sort of contribution to the solution except the SEA. Saline parents have contributed via increased pay to play fees, booster clubs and are now participating on committees to re-examine other areas to address the budget deficit (increasing revenues and reducing expenses) for 2010-2011. I know much about the history of unions but if you took the time to look at the current state of unions you would see that there are more union members in government than there are in the private sector and those union members also get more generous pay, benefits and retirement packages on average than those in the private sector. In 2008, the cost of fringe benefits to state and local government employers was $5.48 more per hour than for private sector employers $13.41 per hour worked vs. $7.93. Unions were formed to protect the working class from the "robber barons" but today's reality is that taxpayers need to be protected from big government and big labor and the only mechanism we have is the ballot box. I encourage anyone reading this post to read this article titled "Why Public Sector Unionism Is a Bad Deal for Taxpayers and Representative Government": I did not live in Michigan when Proposal A was passed and I think it is something that needs to be revisited. I have no argument that our state government is not doing a great job and that the way school funding is done needs vast improvement. That is why I have taken the time to contact my state senator and state representative about this issue. Disclosure: I had two grandparents and one parent who worked as teachers in Michigan and my grandparents put in over 80 years of combined service to their district in Flint. I think teachers on the whole do a marvelous job and am thankful whenever my children have high caliber teachers. However, my children (who are all still in Saline Schools) have also had some low caliber teachers. Sadly, the ineffective teachers are rarely the ones who are impacted during staff reductions due to union rules and archaic tenure laws. As for socialism, the free market cannot operate when it is manipulated by a corrupt partnership between government and special interests, including unions. I abhor socialism with a passion and hope that more voters will participate in the November elections to put people into all levels of government that will allow free markets to work and find representatives who will not be corrupted by special interests. My source for election results:


Thu, Feb 11, 2010 : 3:42 p.m.

Brit: The millage did not pass. Taxpayers stated that they do not believe teachers deserve any more compensation, and most believe pay decreases are necessary. Whether or not the turnout was great, the results are the results. If there is low turnout for a Congressional Election, the loser can't complain that he lost because of low voter turnout; the victor remains. This is called Democracy. You can't go against facts, Mr. Satchwell. The taxpayers voted against the Union and its salaries. If you still aren't convinced, look at the comments on this page. The only people who seem to be against concessions by the Unions are Lisa Starrfield, a Union member, and you, Union President! I would imagine you've heard from members of the Ann Arbor School Board about how their constituents are unhappy with having to put up with the Union's self of entitlement. I disagree with your statement that calling for decreased pay of public sector employees is synonymous with being Socialist. None of us are calling for changes in private sector wages - they have already been affected by supply and demand. These changes have been carried out by fiscally intelligent employers, who realize the necessity of such policies during the current economic climate. In order for public sector wages to react to such climate change, it is the role of the employers of the public sector employees (aka taxpayers, through our elected School Board and the Superintendent who they select) to reevaluate the wages of public sector employees.

Brit Satchwell

Thu, Feb 11, 2010 : 2:21 p.m.

In response to a few comments that have appeared: "...the taxpayers are who you work for and the voters in Washtenaw County have sent a clear message that they want the teachers unions to share some of this burden." What!? The millage turnout was only 22%; 78% of the voters did not vote. Of the 22% who did vote, 57% voted against THEIR paying on average an additional $200/yr (that's $3.85/wk, about the cost of a large latte). That means 12.5% of all eligible voters said they would not pay $3.85/week... period. The only "clear message" to come out of the millage was apathy, general ignorance, and a reflection of the hard times too many are going through. How that gets translated into taxpayers sending a "clear message" that teachers should give thousands when the vast majority would not even voice an OPINION on whether they'd chip in $3.85/week "to share some of this burden" is beyond me. Maybe the writer mistakes the volume of her/his own strident voice as the "voice of the taxpayers." Either way, the writer's statement stretches the bounds of simple reason. "Teachers, like all union represented government employees, are in for a rude awakening as the real world starts to impact them." Unions formed decades ago in reaction to VERY rude awakenings imposed by the real world. I suggest a lesson in the history of unions. The rudeness we now face comes more from teacher bashers rather than any awakenings. Indeed, it is the general public who is now awakening to the state of school funding in Michigan. Had teachers not given as much as teachers have in years past you would have noticed the impact much sooner. Welcome to class. Where have you been? Perhaps if schools were public roads you would have noticed sooner... it is every citizen's duty to pay attention. I'd also like to ask those who tout their recent paycuts and benefit rollbacks as the reason that others should do the same out of some perverse sense of "equity"... when did hunger become a cure for hunger? Notice how a lot of "corporatists" were capitalists on the way up in the 80's and 90's when the good financial times rolled?... "I earned my raises by the sweat of my own brow." But when the invisible hand of the markets they revere turns against them and they are on the way down, they are suddenly socialists... "You must share my misfortune, fair is fair!" I would like all of these newly minted socialists - for whom I DO have great sympathy in this recession - to share how hard they fought for teachers to get raises that matched theirs when they were on the way up. Hands? Anybody? OK, no hands, so maybe it's just union envy. The clamor for those who provide the service - teachers - to also subsidize the shortfalls that the consumers of the service have allowed is a world turned upside down. It's the public's education system, not the teacher's education system, and until the public focuses its attention on the problem - Lansing - we'll continue to do nothing but clumsily cope symptomatically on our way down the "your less is my more" spiral we ALL currently abhor. Full disclosure: I am the president of the Ann Arbor Education Association, and I have real skin in the game (more than $3.85/wk). And this is my real name (a courtesy that I recommend to all of you anonymous usernamers!) Brit Satchwell


Thu, Feb 11, 2010 : 2:15 p.m.

Salinedad: I would appreciate it if you sent along your data analysis from IPEDS. I haven't been able to find a great deal of useful statistics about SAS, especially in comparison to the state of Michigan at large. My email is edgarvanburen AT


Thu, Feb 11, 2010 : 1 p.m.

@seriously, If you want to check my facts yourself, contact the Saline School Administration office and ask to see the 2000 Plante Moran Audit Report. Contained within this report you will see that as of 1999, the Saline School District had a reserve of $25 million and was praised for it solid fiscal management. Contained within this report is a caution for future growth in the cost of health care and pension rates would adversely impact this reserve unless Saline began to introduce cost containment of these features of their collective bargaining agreements. This was not done. If you want to compare collective bargaining agreements feel free to go the website and pull the collective bargaining agreements of Saline and compare to Ann Arbor. You will see the difference in salary ranges that I referenced. If you would like to see the data analysis, just give me your address and I would be glad to mail it to you or feel free to use IPEDS and do the analysis yourself. Over the years I have found folks that can't argue from a position of facts try to attack others as a way to try to change the conversation. If you don't know, this doesn't work, stick to the facts and the answers are obvious. Even better check my facts by doing the work yourself. The facts are what they are. Sorry about that.


Thu, Feb 11, 2010 : 6:43 a.m.

@seriously, I wouldn't pick on Salinedad facts, when you don't do your research either. The district is required by law to set a balanced budget on July 1. The state, however, can toy with it's budget however it feels like. Considering all the cuts the state made during this budget year, it is not surprising that some mid-year cuts had to be made. The SEA has a history of tossing its young and promising teachers instead of taking a collective look within themselves to save jobs - this starts at their leadership. Again, community members are asking - where is the SEA membership, certainly some of them must be smarter than their leadership.


Thu, Feb 11, 2010 : 12:16 a.m.

Lots of interesting comments and here are my two cents: Having a superintendent who has never been a classroom teacher is probably a plus - more objectivity that way. Eliminating busing? Are you kidding? How are working parents, if they are lucky enough to still have jobs, going to get their children to school? Teachers' union - yes, your priveleged days should be numbered - the private sector has lost jobs enormously and taken huge pay cuts and benefit cuts, and NEVER had it so good as you even still have it. This is reality in Michigan. Declining enrollment equals declining needs. The schools cannot afford to fund buildings and staff that are not justified under current and projected enrollment. Supply versus demand - it is age-old basic economics. This is not about "the students" any more. It is about waste. What was OK under a larger enrollment was fine; with diminished enrollment there should be cuts, down to the appropriate amount equal to the student enrollment. Services should continue but perhaps without so many administrators - if the student population is not there, then how is the "old" staff justified? The private sector has faced this head on - look at the unemployment rate! This is real life. It is time for beans and rice.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 10:02 p.m.

Has it occurred to anyone that 3 of the 4 teachers laid off were newly hired this past fall? It's not as though this year's budget problems were not known then. I wonder what the district's real agenda is?


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 9:58 p.m.

Salinedad - I've heard that over 87% of statistics are made up on the spot, and obviously your post proves that! Get your head out of the sand and check your facts before you post. I did not see one true statement in all of your "facts".


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 9:45 p.m.

Saline Mom and Dad, keep it up! Your message will get through. Declining enrollment and vanishing funding absolutely means lay-offs and building closings are inevitable. To our teachers I would like to say thank you for the awesome job you do. However I think you may be misunderstanding what is being said. It is not realistic to think that the entire shortfall can be resolved by the SEA exclusively, all that is being asked is that you do your part. Mine is a family that also has been hit by this economic downturn. I don't think I'm alone in the hunt for a job that would pay even 70% of what I have traditionally been paid, my spouse's income has been flat-lined for 3 years - not counting the lost vacation time and 150% increase in healthcare costs. To think you should be exempt from the same challenges that face the majority of the tax base amazes me. The furor over Mr. Graden's suggestion that the administration is considering online math made me laugh. I wonder how many teachers have done their own continuing ed online? Please remember that while you point your finger at the board of education to place blame for the sacrifice of your own, there are three more pointing back at you.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 7:43 p.m.

I wonder why the administration did not accept the union's offer to drop pay raises this coming year. It seems there is an unspoken agenda. What would it take for the entire district to take a 7-10% indefinite, but hopefully short term, pay cut until state revenues are flush?


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 3:26 p.m.

Something doesn't seem to add up. Administrators take a 2.5% pay cut. Private sector employees take maybe 20% pay cuts (if they even still have a job). Teachers are ask to take a similar cut (5%or less) and it adds up to "thousands of dollars." No wonder they education system is going broke.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 3:07 p.m.

@Salinemom - well said. @LisaStarrfield - the people voted down the millage as is their right in a democracy (although voter turnout is woeful in this country), although I personally voted for the millage. So, with no additional revenue coming in the only option is to reduce expenses and the instruction costs are 71% of the general fund budget. If my numbers are correct, the administrators brought forth a 2+% salary concession over the next 18 months. If the SEA would bring a concession about that same percent then I believe the rest of the options being discussed in committees would come pretty close to alleviating the deficit over the next 18 months. A high quality public education system is vital to the community, it is critical to the future of our children and impacts our property values. For the most part, teachers enter their profession because it is something they truly enjoy. My comments are not meant to dismiss the value that teachers bring, but we need to focus on the economic realities facing our community at this time. Please don't forget that in a public school system, the taxpayers are who you work for and the voters in Washtenaw County have sent a clear message that they want the teachers unions to share some of this burden. Teachers, like all union represented government employees, are in for a rude awakening as the real world starts to impact them. As a union, you can choose to work together to help save some of your colleagues' jobs while helping the students or do nothing and see more teachers lose their jobs and our students are affected.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 2:40 p.m.

Ram, Try. This total rewards figure of top 1% in the nation is from the National Center for Education Statistics (IPEDS). This database is run by the US Dept. of Education, Institute of Edcation Sciences. Feel free to build a custom query and you can do the comparison yourself.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 2:29 p.m.

@Lisa Like the $9,000 paycut my husband took this year? Like the doubling of our health care costs? Like my out of pocket maximum is now $11,000 for my family. Like the week of paid time off that was taken away? His salary was less than many if not most of the "master-degreed" people who teach my children. Get off of your pedestal and stop thinking it is all about teachers and about how the economy stinks. The bottom line is you can't spend more than you receive, period. Welcome to the real world.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 2:20 p.m.

This does have to happen. Spending cuts in these conditions can, will, did happen. There's only so much money in the bank, and the tax revenue has dwindled - spending must be cut. Cut something else you might say, the students deserve the best. I agree students deserve the best, but 100 fewer students enrolled per year, every year for the foreseeable future. Not 100 more students, 100 fewer. How on earth can it be justified to raise taxes to keep staffing, pay and benefits all continuing on as if nothing happened, when the taxpayers are leaving the area because of job loss, foreclosure, or other circumstances, taking the precious students (and perhaps the future of the state) with them? Yes we need to look at pay cuts in EVERY area, this is true - but 100 fewer students per year? This is the reality. How is cutting either staff, benefits or pay in the school district a subject for debate under these circumstances? A subject for reflection on where did all the students and their parents go and how do we entice people continue to live in the area or return? Yes. But a subject for debating why these cuts, why us, why here and now? I say no. If we were to keep staffing, benefits, and pay all in a status quo, then you must retrieve the students and their parents lost from the area in some way. And try to keep more from leaving. The governor I voted for is in her 8th and final year in office after having failed to solve in any significant way the problem of retention and attraction, either of happy healthy tax-paying citizens, or of the employers that ensure we have a supply of happy healthy tax-paying citizens. With an increasing supply of citizens, there is an increasing demand for government, and the services of a school district. But the supply is dwindling this cannot be denied. I don't have the solution either. The problem is larger than Saline, and larger than Michigan. All we can reasonably do is keep our financial house in order. Not spending more than we take in is a first step.

Lisa Starrfield

Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 2:12 p.m.

SalineMom, Now think if you were a teacher and being asked to cut several thousand dollars of your pay, how many textbooks would that be for your daughter and wouldn't you be on this board fighting against those cuts? Why do you think it more reasonable that our pay be cut by thousands instead of taxes increased by a few hundred? Especially given that your tax rate is less than what it would have been had Proposal A not passed.

Lisa Starrfield

Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 2:07 p.m.

For all you folks demanding that I and other teachers cut our pay 'because of the economy', will you be demanding that your taxes increase and that we are given a pay raise when the economy is better?


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 1:39 p.m.

@K Please don't insult people who are truly struggling to make ends meet with the tired refrain of $200 for coffee. The $200 plus I save in those potential millage taxes paid for one (1) of my daughters text books for her college class.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 1:32 p.m.

K: We have to discuss whether or not they are overpaid. As public employees, they are paid for by our tax dollars. I would like to repeat what Hornet stated earlier..."Teachers are government employees, they work for us and the community is saying that we can no longer afford to pay their generous benefits & salaries in this economic climate. Michigan as a state ranks 8th in teacher pay yet Michigan's per capita income is 37th." Also, I would like to encourage you check out this informative article:


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 1:22 p.m.

Let me say, teachers don't make all that much money for all that they do. And it always has been sad that we are willing to pay sportspeople so much money, when all they are doing is basically providing entertainment. Our teachers are preparing our children to be our futures- the future people in the medical fields, teachers, parents, business people, scientists, politicians, scientists, etc. You would rather spend $200 a year on coffee than pay $200 more a year for the benefit of educating our future, whether or not you have children of your own. And most teachers I know and even para-eds spend a lot of their hard earned money to buy books and supplies for the classroom. Many teachers have just been furnished with chairs and desks in the classroom, maybe 5 computers for the kids, and textbooks. They are given a little money to spend on students, but that amount has dwindled each year. One teacher I know has seen that amount dwindle to $100 a year. Then the teachers in the poorer districts are also trying to help students keep supplied with even the basics because the student's families can't afford it. I don't know of many other jobs where you have to pay for your own supplies and then the supplies of your coworkers/customers (Other than trinkets for customers when you are in sales.) And don't get me started on the para-ed's pay. And then the substitute teacher's pay is not enough for one person to get by on. But the reward of helping a child or a group of children is there. Or having a non verbal autistic child that speaks to you, that almost makes up for the more challenging days and helping children to learn and prepare for the future is the main reason most teachers teach, I have not heard one say "For the pay", because even before our economy tanked teachers were not paid huge amounts. Then there are teachers working without a contract, etc. Many other union people would not do that. But back to pay, as someone said, teachers also pay taxes and for groceries etc, seen their home value tank, and have also had family health issues and layoffs of spouses, etc, just like everyone else. So don't say teachers are paid too much, unless you are one, married to one or have one close in the family. Which would mean you would know differently. And don't say that teachers should foot the tax bill, because they already are paying taxes right along with you.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 1:09 p.m.

Salinedad: You bring up some very interesting points. Would you please state your source for the statistic about Saline being in the top 1%? This sounds like some useful evidence to be used when working with the SEA


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 12:38 p.m.

It is important to seperate the fiscal situation of the Saline School District from the challenges of our surrounding communities. I would encourage folks who are commenting to use facts about Saline Schools and our cost structure and contractual obligations rather than make generalizations about the State Pension obligations or general statements about how Saline does not care about paying a competitive salary for our many talented faculty. In Saline in 1999 we had $25 million in reserve and class size of 22-1 in K-5, 25-1 in 6-8 and 28-1 in 9 -12th grades. We had a rich middle school curriculum and a competitve total rewards structure, more than many communities but less than for example Ann Arbor. Since Ann Arbor generates almost twice the funding than Saline, that made sense. Let's now move forward to 2010. In 2010 we have eliminated most of the enrichment programs at the Middle School, eliminated our Gifted and Talented Program, increased class size to 25-1 in k-5, 28-1 in 6 - 8 and 35-1 in grades 9 - 12. We have also created a sinking fund for maintaining our buildings, a second fund for our enrichment programs, a third fund to pay for our new schools and the most expensive pay to play program for our High School Students in the county. Oh yeah, our teachers are now paid 15% more than Ann Arbor teachers when they begin their career and 10% more than Ann Arbor when they are at the top of the scale. It also takes less time for a teacher to reach the top of the scale in Saline compared to our nearby communities and our teachers pay nothing for the health care benefit they get. Today Saline teachers are in the top 1% in total compensation for k-12 of any teacher in the United States. To pay for all these great contracts we have paid our teachers out of our reserves, reducing our fund balance to less than $3 million today. At our current burn rate of cash we will be insolvent by 2012. It is obvious that Saline values our many talented faculty, it is time for the SEA to value our children and our community as well. It is time for the SEA to move beyond self interest of the long term tenured faculty and to be the transformational leaders that our community needs today. Grandstanding at School Board meetings is not transformational, it is just grandstanding. Be more than that, for the membership of the SEA, demand more than that from your leadership and to the citizens of Saline demand more from your School Administration and your School Board.

Susie Q

Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 12:13 p.m.

I suspect most school districts in the state of Michigan are asking their teacher and other employee groups to give concessions to save money and preserve programs. I also know that many employee groups HAVE taken cuts, delayed raises and are paying more for their health care and getting fewer benefits. I am a school employee and paid $3500.00 in premiums last year for my health care. This was approximately 30% of the total cost, which is more than many "Private" employees pay. I know that the dithering in Lansing is preventing school employees from making concessions. If the SEA teachers were to accept 4% pay cut and offer to pay more for their insurance now, they might get another pay and benefits cut imposed on them from Granholm's or Bishop's or Dillon's plans. As long as the folks in Lansing refuse to do their job, the school districts will find it difficult to convince employee groups to accept more concessions. What if often not mentioned is that school employees are your neighbors and fellow community members. Our homes have lost values, we have had spouses laid off or had pay cuts. We pay taxes and pay for our kids to play sports, just like everyone else. Many of os have made many concessions over the years to keep the schools solvent. I am sure the SEA would consider concessions when and if the folks in Lansing make their decisions regarding public and school employees. As far as the SEA "throwing their younger colleagues under the bus", there will be layoffs in many districts regardless of whether employees make concessions. If it is true that the Saline board could/would not guarantee no layoffs if the SEA accepted paycuts, then I doubt that the concessions would have saved these jobs.

Tell it

Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 12:10 p.m.

Usually school districts have spent a lot of money for fancy sports areas, swimming pools and auditoriums. Why not cut the costs for heating, cooling and other maintenance in these areas before cutting the basics like teachers for english and history.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 12:03 p.m.

Am I the only one who considers laying off some people as a decent solution to this persistent problem? Most businesses - when faced with budgetary problems - do just what has been done, they cut discretionary costs as much as possible, consolidate where reasonable and then cut people and/or programs. Any sound business would cut pay as a last resort. One one hand, people rave about how great the schools are, how innovative the district is, how the community attracts people in part because of the good school system. On the other hand - who do you think makes the schools attractive in this manner? Was it Bev. Geltner? Is it Mr. Graden? Is it the Board of Education? Or is it the people who work within the district, including the TEACHERS? Sometimes you get what you pay for. Many may not believe this, but when you choose to become a teacher, you also make a tradeoff - private sector opportunity vs. decent paying job with some job security. In my view - this district needs really look at what it wants to offer today and tomorrow. Closing a couple of buildings and running schools at the highest capacity possible are a good start. Scaling back offerings is another. People will lose jobs in this process and it won't be easy, but in my view a better route than to just cut pay across the board.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 11:47 a.m.

How can proper planning be made WITHOUT any knowledge of the amount of school funding for any given time period? The state has promised money one day and then taken it away the next. To say that we shouldn't blame the state is ludicrous!! We have had a problem with school funding since the final year or two of the John Engler administration. We survived then because of the spike in gas prices and the increased tax revenue that generated. Since that time the schools have seen their funding levels ebb and flow throughout the year. There are people who have been saying since 1994 that Proposal A would be a huge problem, but nobody would listen. Everything appeared fine. They couldn't believe that tying school funding to sales tax revenue and income taxes would be bad. Now we are in this funding crisis and people are saying we can't blame the state which took over the primary funding of schools in 1994? The schools are now being hit with a number of unfunded mandates and numerous decreases in the state income tax level since 1994. The state has reduced the pot that school funding is supposed to come out of AND made additional requirements that cost more money. Yes I know there are still school property taxes, but keep in mind that if a district does not reach a certain level (I think 18 mills) that the state reduces their foundation allowance (i.e. the schools get less money from the state). Its time for people to realize that the way we fund schools is not working and a serious overhaul is desperately needed. The blaming of teachers, administrators, support staff, school boards, the MEA, etc. is not helping to fix the problem. Contact your state representatives and urge them to come up with a plan to stabilize school funding and allow districts the ability to PROPERLY PLAN FOR THE FUTURE.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 11:47 a.m.

My pay has gone down 30% and the value of my home has gone down and i still don't get a break in taxes something has to give soon. I don't think 1.5 or even 2 percent is enough of a cut, please try again


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 11:38 a.m.

They should cut the high school math department.... LOL! Saline, like most school districts, are grossly over-staffed. They should be laying off 26 teachers, instead of 6. Get rid of all the social workers...


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 11:05 a.m.

@Steve, How about the additional stipend in the contract that the SEA receives for additional "retirement" benefits. Dollar for dollar that could be eliminated and save our district around 600,000 plus per year, if I remember the number from a past budget presentation. They are already covered under a generous retirement plan.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 10:56 a.m.

I am reading with interest the running debate on how to continue to educate our children with quality standards and still fund the same. I notice that most posts would favor the teachers shouldering the deficit corrections. Teachers also pay taxes, pay for their children to play in sports, pay the same prices at the grocery stores and gas stations. Teachers are highly educated professionals who paid a small fortune to enter the field of education. Other professionals with the same amount of educational and continuing education requirements make a great deal more than any teacher. Part of the compensation has been a benefits package. Most teachers do not enter the field thinking they will make a fortune, but enter because they like the work and the thrill of making a difference. Consider what an educator is charged with professionally and all that entails before deciding they are not worth the pay. It would also be good for everyone to understand that the word "tenure" is not a blanket of protection for inept educators. If a teacher is not doing his or her job effectively an administrator needs only to document the issues through the district evaluation process, offer support and then if the issues contine, the teacher can be terminated. The process would take a year. If a teacher is not getting results from their students, then the administrator is not doing his or her job! Without the teachers there is NO education.

Steve Norton, MIPFS

Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 10:50 a.m.

For everyone focusing on benefits, consider this: Contributions to the state retirement fund are set by a state agency based on rules passed by the state legislature. Local districts (and local unions) have absolutely no control over this. Contributions are not saved in individual accounts, but rather much of what is paid in now goes to pay benefits for current retirees. On the other hand, because of the mandatory contributions to the pension system as a percent of payroll, a dollar of salary costs local districts something like $1.25. Whereas, a dollar in benefits costs the district just a dollar. Don't be so quick to attack benefits. There are possible compromises to be found in the fact that simply transferring a dollar of pay over to benefits saves the district about 20%.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 10:49 a.m.

IMO, eliminating busing should NOT be an option. That would create more problems for the families as not everyone is able to drop their kids off at school. At this point I think that perhaps the teachers could have made some concessions, seeing as how 6 of their own will now be out of a job.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 10:48 a.m.

jondhall, without the MEA Michigan would be like Florida, with unlicensed teachers earning the same salary as employees at Disney World.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 10:44 a.m.

Why do we always ask our teachers to make the sacrifices? Where else do you find a workforce of largely masters-level professionals who we rely on to teach and take care of our children? There are lots of people who have less education and make more money with excellent benefits, yet we expect teachers to give up benefits to make the schools work? There is something wrong.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 10:39 a.m.

ez12c - "Bus service is not available to those living within a mile of the school." You are wrong about this. When I'm home in the morning I watch parents drive their kids two blocks north to catch a bus that takes the kids five blocks south to the school...the school from their home and even from the bus stop is well within a mile. This community claims to be "green" but we have people that can't even walk their kids three blocks to school. This is a complete waste of tax dollars. This is a great example of why there needs to be a fee to ride the bus.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 10:33 a.m.

It's a shame what we are doing to our young people and, ultimately, to ourselves. And we can blame state government! It was at that level that we were deprived of the right to raise money locally to operate our schools.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 10:25 a.m.

@Lisa Starrfield - Teachers are government employees, they work for us and the community is saying that we can no longer afford to pay their generous benefits & salaries in this economic climate. Michigan as a state ranks 8th in teacher pay yet Michigan's per capita income is 37th. All of the other states that rank higher in average teacher pay have per capita incomes in the top 9. See for yourself here: If the union cannot find a concession in their current contract, the only alternative is to reduce staff as instruction costs (teachers salaries & benefits) comprise 71% of the budget. This does not help our students but at least the school district is addressing their budget issues unlike our state and federal governments.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 10:20 a.m.

Wow, there certainly are a lot of armchair quarterbacks that think they can get us out of the worse crisis the schools have faced in modern times. It seems like there are deeper issues--schools are funded on an annual basis around enrollment which can and is fluctuating drastically during these hard economic times due in large part to our singulary focuse local economy. Such a funding model doesn't take into account legacy costs: buildings, retirement, contracts, all of which are necessary to have smooth-running, high-quality schools.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 10:10 a.m.

Ralph, how do you propose to address the budget defecit?


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 10:09 a.m.

@Ralph The Board does not negotiate with the SEA - the district negotiating team does. If there was no signed "TA" by both parties, then the board has nothing to act on. Think about the Dr. Geltner contract year and that fiasco. According to the minutes the SEA offered to DELAY their 2.5% pay raises and wanted to extend what is already the most generous contract in the county for another year. I think based on the board comments last night - this will not happen - deservedly so. I hope this board will finally take on the SEA and come up with a fiscally responsbile contract, otherwise there will be maximum class sizes and less teachers. The hard part is, there are few "newbies" left for the SEA leadership to sacrifice, so they will have to start hitting the rank and file. Why do you think there was such a clatter over the math/on-line proposal? It hit long years of service teachers - including a SEA "leadership" member. Tim Heim should be congratulated for his public acting skills at the meeting last night. Tim spoke months ago about "no new taxes" for teachers, but it is perfectly okay for every other employee in the district. Come on SEA membership - where are you? All of you can't have your heads in the sand.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 10:06 a.m.

Let's see, hmmm. Scot Graden. No degree in education, never spent any time as a classroom teacher.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 10:03 a.m.

Very interesting! Nothing left but the scraps to fight over. Demonize the teachers. Who's next!


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 9:58 a.m.

The SEA should have been the ones to deliver the news to those now-unemployed teachers whose interests the SEA is supposed to be representing. When they agreed to only "give back" $57K the SEA leadership knew they were dooming their colleagues to financial ruin so the senior teachers could keep their gold-plated benefits. That is shameless, cold behavior that a person doesn't expect to see in a "nice town" like Saline. And by the way, might want to keep a frowny-face stock photo of Scot Graden on file for stories like these. No matter what happens in Saline, there's Scot apparently smiling about it! There should be a surprised shot for when he gets bad budget news, and an angry look for when contract negotiations are not going well.

sas parent

Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 9:55 a.m.

Ms. Starrfied Yes, I agree property taxes need to be reconfigured but that's not something likely to happen in the near future. We need to make adjustments now with what the district can control. And trust me, as a school support staff member, I understand the state's plan to further cut pay. Support staff has already taken its fair share of cuts.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 9:46 a.m.

AS4Evr: I don't think teams like Football, Basketball, and Baseball get a "free ride." First, these sports bring in a decent amount of revenue from game attendance (while this isn't so true of basketball lately, it certainly holds true for football). They deserve this money that they bring in to the Athletic Department. Second, these teams have team fees like all other sports. Third, they undergo some pretty extensive fundraising programs, just like all other sports.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 9:30 a.m.

FLALAW97: Bus service is not available to those living within a mile of the school.

Lisa Starrfield

Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 9:29 a.m.

SAS Parent, There are people, like Stunshlf, who are expecting teachers to pay their taxes. And teachers are like everyone else... some have had spouses lose jobs, some have had spouses on disability or early retirement, some are single, barely making ends meet. On top of this, the state is trying to cut our take home pay by 4% under Granholm's plan and is trying to cut our pay by another 5% under a different plan with a three year pay freeze. How about we fix our broken tax structure? Property taxes were cut years ago and we can't afford those cuts. Time to fix the tax structure and properly fund our state.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 9:20 a.m.

The SEA offered to give up future raises, which amounted to $1.5 million just recently. They wanted some guarantee that there would be no layoffs. The Board rejected the offer with no counter offer.

The Grinch

Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 9:02 a.m.

Saline's teachers are supposed to take substantial pay cuts in the thousands of dollars (if not tens of thousdands of dollars) just because people like stunshif don't want to pay $200 more per year in taxes. Yeah, that make's sense. And, just in case anyone missed it, what A2 did to its firefighters provides graphic evidence of what happenes when public employees "give back". So I'm "SHOCKED" at the resistance put up by the SEA because, sure as God made little green apples, were the SEA to make substantial concessions, it wouldn't be enough for stunshif and others of his ilk.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 8:57 a.m.

Graden talks about these Pay to Play committees and their wimpy fees. Why not make it 100% Pay to Play. Sports like Crew, Water Polo, Hockey, Lacrosse pay 100% to participate in these sports. It's about time the others like football, basketball, baseball get off their FREE RIDE and start paying their own way.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 8:51 a.m.

@Hornet, I agree 100% with everything you said. Schools will have to close as enrollment falls. But for immediate relief, a 10% across the board reduction in pay,pension contributions and healthcare contributions would turn the deficit from red to black. I agree fully that moving forward the unions need to go away.

sas parent

Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 8:50 a.m.

We're not asking Saline teachers to pay our taxes. We're asking them to be a part of the sacrifice that MANY residents are facing or already have faced in the private sector. The Saline community is not looking for teachers to cover the entire deficit but they ARE asking them to be realistic about the benefits and pay they receive as a state employee. Period.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 8:49 a.m.

There are many possible solutions to this problem but the difficult part is figuring out which is best. Eliminating busing is a solution, however Saline still has a large rural community, a considerable percentage of the district's families do not live within walking distance to a school. A special assessment on those that live within a mile but still use bus service would help. Kudos to SASAA for their understanding of the problem. Every bit helps. Closing buildings and consolidating also seem like no-brainers (and better than losing teachers). Sure, these are less than ideal options, but in today's less than ideal economic climate, they are realistic.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 8:44 a.m.

Saline planned for new growth which was projected - if it had happened and no new school was built you would all complain about overcrowding and lack of planning. The new school attracts new residents but if there are no jobs or jobs disappear it doesn't matter how attractive the school is - enrollment goes down. State funding is based on enrollment. Theoretically, you should need fewer teachers to teach fewer students but I would rather see every teacher pay something for their health benefits than cut teachers. Did I read the budget correctly that teachers do not pay a dime for their health benefits? I don't know of any other jobs that have it that good!

Lisa Starrfield

Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 8:41 a.m.

If those greedy teachers would just pay our taxes for us, hey, our kids won't be hurt, programs won't be cut, I won't have to pay for them to play sports and we won't have to pay more taxes either to properly fund the schools. Those selfish teachers.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 8:39 a.m.

@eduadvocate, "who else is standing up for the students,educators and education?" I am a bit confused by your statement. When the union's throw their own co-workers ( 6 saline teacher's getting laid off) under the bus I don't see how that as "standing up for the kids". I see that as hurting the kids. When the union's don't ever care enough about their own co-workers, how am I to believe they really care about the kids. If as I stated in a previous post, you really cared about the kids,you would all take reasonable cuts to pay/pensions and healthcare and then no one would have to get fired. The kids at Saline who lost those 6 teachers will suffer. Class sizes will increase etc. Actions speak louder than empty words. One more thing, the SASAA agreed to a 1.25% paycut this year and a 2.5% next year to save a whopping $57,000. Whoop Dee Doo!! And get ready for their chest thumping about what heroes they are. This cut is a joke and only affects their pay, not their healthcare or pensions.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 8:38 a.m.

@stunshif - The school board voiced extreme frustration with the SEA and the arrogant Mr. Heim at last night's board meeting. Maybe that it has come to this, Heim will finally bring a real concession to the table. Nobody wants to see anyone lose their job, but in these times reductions in staff are happening everywhere and it is necessary to balance expenses with revenues. What is unfortunate is that antiquated tenure rules protect ineffective teachers and younger, high caliber teachers are often shown the door instead. Public employees across the nation on average have much more generous benefits than those who work in the private sector. Since public employees are paid with taxpayer dollars, I don't understand why we as citizens continue to put up with the unions for public employees and especially the teacher unions with their antiquated tenure system which protects ineffective teachers. Saline (as well as most Michigan school districts) needs several things to happen to resolve this as we cannot count on the economy growing enough in the next few years to bring in more tax revenue: The teachers union (SEA) needs to bring a concession to the table, what they have submitted so far is nothing more than a continuation of a far too generous contract given these economic times. Having the teachers pay a greater percentage of their health care benefits seems to be an obvious place to start. Saline may need to reconfigure their schools to adjust to falling enrollment and it seems there are enough older buildings that this might make sense for long term cost containment. However, this would most certainly involve more job reductions (teachers, administrators and support staff) - which is a negative for the overall community and state. We all need to pay more attention to who we send to Lansing and get the state government to better align their budgeting timeline to match the school district budgeting timeline. Everyone should contact their state legislators to pressure them to make education a focus area. There are many areas of wasteful spending that could be addressed that would leave move money for education. It was stated at the board meeting last night that local state legislators said that they are not feeling the pressure from the citizens on these issues. Call them, email them, write them letters.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 8:28 a.m.

Where is the SEA (teachers unions)??????? They have their head in the sand clinging to their contract that expires in 2012. They have offered zip, zero, nada to assist the District, parents, and students. The SEA offered up a few of their own (so much for that share the wealth Socialist attitude they teach the kids)to protect the untouchable tenured staff. Well, as the community and parents cope with the economic downturn we are watching the SEA and it's leadersip and how they behave. 2012 is around the corner and this community will remember who stepped up and who protected self interest. Lets be crystal clear here. Parents are being asked to be burdened with more costs (there is a fee for everything now and they are being hiked) and the union sits idle. The debate has been defined by them, it is the Parent/student v SEA, and we will remember what they did when the community expected them to step up and preserve the educational experience of the Saline student.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 8:18 a.m.

@jondhall and GoBluebeatOSU, Great posts, agree fully. As a parent of two recent Saline grads and one still in the H.S. and one yet to enter, I am very distressed with what has gone on at Saline over the years. The school board has taken a 25 million dollar surplus from several years ago to having a $3.6 million dollar deficit in 10-11. The Saline School Board must demand immediate action and givebacks from Mr. Heim and the SEA. Why does it have to come down to closing schools,shuttering programs and firing teachers. This hurts the kids and their parents. If the unions( including the administrators union) will give up a reasonable cut to pay/healthcare and pensions ( 10%) then not a single teacher will get cut, no schools will close and no programs will get cut. Average benefits/pay for the private sector have fallen 12% in Michigan over the past 3 years. We need shared pain from the public sector. We pay their salaries through our taxes and it is very fair and reasonable that we request that. BTW--before we all start complaining about a 10% reduction, you have all gotten nice raises year after year after year. A 10% reduction will take you back to what you were making just several years ago.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 8:15 a.m.

Who's to blame if it isn't state government? Cuts from the state have resulted in less funding for schools. MME scores will continue to drop, as schools have less funding there will be fewer educators and fewer resources to provide adequate education. And I still don't understand how the MEA is to blame? Who else is standing up for students, educators and education? When people call for cuts, etc. all that does is de-value education, and de-value children. Yes my house has lost value, but I don't think my daughter should have to be de-valued - but that is what's happening - cutting teachers and programs results in less education, so perhaps you all should be waiting for test scores to continue to drop.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 7:50 a.m.

This didn't have to happen. All Saline has to do is adjust the employee benefits to be on par with that of the Corporate world. Saline should not have the Fat Cat benefits of Lansing and Washington. (sorry the words Obama and Bush were used so I couldn't help myself.) Reality is, if Saline adjusted the benefit plans to be just a little better than the corporate world this year's problem and a good piece of next year's budget shortfall goes away. I'm sure this isn't going to make many happy, eliminate busing with the benefits adjustment and the whole problem goes away. Five years from now the cost of busing is going to be out of sight, deal with the problem now.


Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 6:52 a.m.

Key to everything in life is proper planning. Did one think the boom times would go on forever the smart people put some away for that rainy day! Enjoy the new High School, I see the MEAP scores are down also. What would Michigan be like without the MEA?

Tom Joad

Wed, Feb 10, 2010 : 5:31 a.m.

But Obama says the economy is getting better