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Posted on Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 9:21 a.m.

Saline school board wants to open contracts with teachers, other unions

By Janet Miller

The Saline school board is asking its teachers’ union and three other employee groups to re-open their contracts to review wages and benefits.

That action, approved by the board Tuesday evening, comes in response to a budget shortfall resulting from the double whammy of a cut in state funding and the loss last week of a countywide millage proposal.

The board unanimously voted to direct Superintendent Scot Graden to ask the unions to re-open their contracts. Graden offered no further comment.


Saline Superintendent Scot Graden

He will ask the Saline Education Association, which represents the teachers, along with the Educational Support Personnel, the Saline Area School Managers Association and the Saline Area Administrators Association to re-open their contracts.

The teachers' union contract was approved June 2008 and runs until 2012. It was a 3-year extension of the previous contract and includes a 2.5 percent wage increase each year, along with reductions in the district's contribution to health reimbursement accounts.

“Nov. 3 loomed as the day of deciding the next step,” Graden said. “Now, we need to take action.” 

Washtenaw County voters firmly turned down a 2-mill proposal that would have sent an infusion of funding to all 10 of the county’s traditional school districts. The measure, rejected by about 58 percent of county voters (and 61.4 percent of voters in Saline), would have generated an additional $3.5 million annually for the Saline district, Graden said. 

At the same time, the state has cut per-pupil funding by $292 for the 2009-10 academic year, a move that will cost Saline schools $1.2 million, Graden said. 

While the district has a fund balance of $3.6 million, the board has a policy to hold at least 5 percent of the annual budget in reserve. The $3.6 million represents about 6 percent, Graden said.

To kick-start the idea of making cuts, board members at Tuesday night’s meeting suggested looking close to home for savings. 

Board President David Friese suggested board members no longer take classes from the Michigan Association of School Boards, while Trustee Lisa Slawson suggested they give up their MacBook laptop computers. Trustee Amy Cattell wondered whether board members should forfeit the $30 a meeting they are paid. 

“It’s a symbolic move, but it would be a start,” said Vice President David Medley.

Residents also made pleas and offers Tuesday, with some suggesting the district charge for sports and extra-curricular activities. David Rhoads, a business owner and member of the Saline City Council, donated nearly $600 Tuesday night and encouraged others to do the same.

In the meantime, a proposal to move the district's administrative and data center offices from Union School to Liberty School will have to wait until the broader economic issues are resolved, Graden said. The move would have cost between $596,000 and $1.3 million, but the proposal also included looking at the sale of the historic Union School.

Liberty School, which is part of a 120-acre school campus that includes Saline Middle School, Heritage and Woodland Meadows schools, once served as Saline Middle School. The district leases space at Liberty School to a day care center, and it serves as a church and community group meeting place.

While the district begins to struggle to make cuts, one thing is clear, said Trustee Slawson. 

“Sixty one percent of the voters in Saline voted the millage down. They want us to live within our means.”

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


DaLast word

Wed, Jan 13, 2010 : 9:27 a.m.

Everything is on the table...Everything. the down side to pay to play is that for some kids, sports is the only thing keeping them out of trouble and off the streets. This is where booster clubs can come in. Mac vs PC I have plenty of both in my business and the PC's deffinatly are the better use of my corporate funds.


Sat, Nov 14, 2009 : 9:55 p.m.

Kathryn, You ask "why should we privatize services like busing, groundskeeping,building services and food services, and why is it that people always think privatizing these services is going to be cheaper". Two things to say in regards to that. The first and really easy one Kathryn is you will be taking all those jobs and taking them off the "gold plated benefits table", so those jobs moving forward will not have the fat cat pensions and healthcare benee's that the teachers get. Also, show me any government run ( yes--public schools are government run) business that can compete dollar for dollar with the private sector. Pigs will fly before you can show me one example of that!! After we get all the "non teaching" positions privated, then we will go after forcing the unions out of all public schools, at that point, teachers will be able to call themselves "professional". Give up being protected by union thugs, quit protecting lousy teachers and sell yourself. Why is it you need a union, you won't be able to give an honest answer to that one will you?


Sat, Nov 14, 2009 : 4:21 p.m.

Re: stunhsif: "But all functions other than teaching should be privatized like busing, food services, building maintenance and groundskeeping." Why is it that people always believe that "privatizing" (outsourcing) services to for-profit organizations is going to be cheaper than taking care of those services themselves? Simply outsourcing work does not automatically save money, and it frequently leads to districts losing control over quality of service and also losing the flexibility to utilize their own staff in the most cost-effective ways. If there are opportunities for economies of scale, we should be looking at consolidating services or even districts within the county.

Michael K.

Fri, Nov 13, 2009 : 3:35 p.m.

Thank you sbbuilder, and aataxpayer! I took a buyout from Ford almost 3 years ago. I am not working. When I took the buyout, I told my wife we should get out of Michigan ASAP, because the quality of life was going to go into the toilet! Well, that time is here. She didn't want to leave, so we decided to hunker down and stay. Now I think we made a mistake, but... I was educated by others. Now it is my turn to pay back! Teachers are the most devoted, hardest working people I know. My son is in the Saline schools. That is why we live in Saline! We have lived in Ypsi, Plymouth, Ann Arbor, etc. but we chose Saline because of the schools. My wife is still working, I am not. But when I was working and making $140K a year I never minded paying taxes. It was my job and my honor to pay back, and invest in the future. I voted for the millage, even being unemployed. I hope that Michigan will suck less in the future - and the kids are the only hope we have! Go to WUOM and listen to the Gen Y shows, about 1/2 of the college graduates are leaving the state within 1 year of graduation. No-one from out of state wants to move to Michigan because of the poor quality of life here. Go ahead, be punitive. The good, quality, dedicated teachers will leave. You will get the schools and state you deserve. And we will move to Texas or Colorado with the rest of the employable....


Fri, Nov 13, 2009 : 1:29 p.m.

When critizing the teachers pensions, many of you don't realize that a good part of the problem with districts paying into the pension fund is they are being assessed for shortfalls in the pension fund.A big degree the investment shortfall was created by the legislature borrowing at least twice and I'm pretty sure it was three times excess money from the teachers pension fund to balance other state budgets. The money was supposed to be paid back and never was. Although this was about 10 years ago, if the money wasn't touched there wouldn't be a high pension issue now. Districts would actually be paying in less than what they are doing now. The same thing happened in the auto industry when the Feds allowed borrowing from pension funds that had excess. When it was time for them to pay up, everybody cried foul. Many experts in Washington are now wanting to go back to funded pension plans and get away from 401's because they are not working for many people for a number of reasons.

Steve Norton, MIPFS

Fri, Nov 13, 2009 : 12:14 a.m.

Quick note on pensions, if anyone wants to listen: Public school, charter, library and community college employees covered by MPSERS, the state pension system for school employees, do make contributions to the pension system. Those hired before July 2008 pay in 4.3% of their annual income above $15,000; those hired after that time must now contribute 6.4% of income above that level. These changes were made in Public Act 111 of 2007. The 17% figure is what the districts must pay as a percentage of payroll. This does not go into individual accounts; it is what the plan administrators think is necessary to cover expenses for current retirees. For the present, retiree health care is a pay-as-you-go system, meaning that today's contributions go towards benefits for today's retirees.

"We" not "Them"

Thu, Nov 12, 2009 : 11:21 p.m.

There is no doubt a financial crisis, but I am continually shocked to see teachers put in the crosshairs of so many vicious comments over the past two weeks. I believe it only goes to show how little we value the teaching profession. In the whole healthcare debate, I rarely heard anyone mention that the solution could simply be to have doctors charge less, or that doctors are out of touch with reality and need to get with the real world and feel some real financial pain. In that debate, we seemed to be able to appreciate and value the job doctors do and realized that the financial problem laid more with the policy makers. As weve debated our foreign policy over the past 5 years, I dont see many people talking about how its the soldiers fault. Whether we agree or disagree with how theyre used, we understand that the troops make an enormous sacrifice for our country, and no matter how strapped our economy is, were not going to start going after the GI bill or veterans hospitals just because other areas of society are suffering. Again, we are able to properly focus or frustrations on the policy makers instead of the pawns. Our public servants, firefighters, police officers, and yes, even teachers, do thankless jobs. To spend our energy disparaging them by having a public debate of their worth, or lack of it, only serves to belittle them. None of our public servants go into it to get rich. There are so many policy makers above them that actually control the money, it seems only vindictive and misplaced to take out our anger towards this group. It would be like prosecuting the people who took bad mortgages and lost their homes while ignoring the bankers who were in charge of it all. This debate can all do without the, That jobs so easy anyone could do it or, my jobs harder than your job comments. Thats better served for the Jerry Springer show. I dont know what you do, but I know I cant show up to your job tomorrow and do it. I imagine your years of training and experience make you sort of an expert in that field. The constant references to how little teachers work and how easy their jobs are is insulting. If teaching was such a lush profession, why do 50% of teachers quit after 5 years? We need to have a responsible discussion about how to properly fund our school systems. Belittling the value of our public servants does little to remedy a much bigger problem. Focus on the policy makers, not the pawns.


Thu, Nov 12, 2009 : 7:05 p.m.

To Concerned 1 I could not agree more with what you said to Lisa Starrfield, it was perfect. I am in outside sales and if I had to pay my own travel and business expenses I'd have no income!!


Thu, Nov 12, 2009 : 6:58 p.m.

Dr. I. Emsayin, I graduated from Saline High School in 77. My oldest son gradauted from Saline in 05, my daughter in 08 and I have a 15 year old son who is a sophmore at Saline High. I also have a 1 year old who will enter Saline Schools in a few years. I voted NO just like the other 61.4% of voters for all the reasons noted below by other folks. Cuts should come to all state employees covered by these "gold plated and outdated contracts". Sports should not be dumped because that hurts the kids. When are you folks ( state employees) going to get it? You no longer are going to get away with saying cuts will only hurt the kids. As a taxpayer and Saline graduate, I will do all I can to make sure the cuts are made to your pensions, healthcare and salaries and not to sports and other programs. If cuts are made in all these areas, no teachers will lose their jobs, classroom size won't have to change, we can keep the sports, keep the busing etc. But all functions other than teaching should be privatized like busing, food services, building maintenance and groundskeeping.


Thu, Nov 12, 2009 : 9:31 a.m.

I have to respond to this post from Lisa Starrfield: "You are asking a starting teacher to take a 10% pay cut from an already low salary compared to many of his/her peers in industry. Will you also give us ten thousand dollar bonuses when the economy is good? Will you pay for our cell phones? Give us a company car? Trips? Like so many in industry do in fat times? Or are we just expected to have low salaries in good times and shut up and take the cuts in bad?" Seriously..are you kidding? Tell me you did not get your education in the Saline District. Either you are the least informed person around or just completely in the dark about life around you. Do you really think that teachers need a company paid cell phone or car? Do you really think that teachers should receive company trips or maybe a company gas card so you dont have to pay for your fuel for all your business trips? The position we are talking about is a teacher.not an outside salesperson. Yes, I am a parent of a Saline High School student. I already pay for the extra things my child participates in. I also have a business in the area and also donate money to the school to help pay for kids who can not afford these extra costs. I also donate my time to the school to help out these extra programs. Lisa you do not want to compare pay cuts or other benefits with people in my industry or in a lot of other industries in the area. Like so many people these days I think you feel entitled. Get over it those days are over and everything has to be looked at from new perspectives to make things work.


Thu, Nov 12, 2009 : 9:21 a.m.

Did the Saline School board unanimously vote to reopen Mr. Greden's contract?


Thu, Nov 12, 2009 : 8:40 a.m.

Re: Andrew Thomas, While I respect your view point, I do not agree that school budget issues are best limited to local (or even regional) discussion. For instance, if one district eliminates a particular sport, it affects its neighboring districts because there will be one less team to play; if several districts eliminate the same sport, there may be not enough teams to play, and so their team will also be eliminated. Also, I'm guessing that there is a lot of comparison between nearby districts as to what other bargaining units agree to (or don't agree to) for teacher and other contracts. If one district gets a really "good" contract, oftentimes the nearby districts are compelled to do similar for their employees. Plus, with most of our fundng coming from the state, no public school district is an island onto themselves. All districts have to deal with the state mandated pension system, rising health care costs, etc. We will ALL be facing huge cutbacks. Some districts are more vulnerable right now (and facing more media scrutiny)- but let me assure you, I personally see the most financially strapped district's plight as a bellweather for what lies ahead for everyone else. So, while I do understand your sentiment, I think it is really a decision left up to the editors of the if they wish to limit the discussion to strictly geographical boundaries. As an "outsider" here, I will respectfully bow to their wishes.


Thu, Nov 12, 2009 : 8:37 a.m.

That is the classroom schedule, doesn't take into account things like planning, grading, meetings with students and parents, staff meetings, professional development, setting up and taking down classrooms etc. Nicee try though.


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 11:11 p.m.

SpamBot: As a teacher and parent in Saline, just an FYI...Wikipedia is NOT a valid source. A starting point, maybe. Certainly not one SHS would use as vaild research.

Art Vandelay

Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 10:53 p.m.

treetowncartel, read the AAPS contract, their pay is based on six hour days.

Andrew Thomas

Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 10:17 p.m.

Hey, Everyone: I would like to make a suggestion: How about we all reach a gentleman's (and gentlelady's) agreement to post comments only for our own districts? When we were debating the county-wide millage, everyone was affected and everyone deserved their say. Now that the millage has failed, and it's up to each district to deal with its own budget issues, district residents should be able to debate their own issues without a lot of noise from outsiders who don't have a dog in the fight. My disclosure: I live in the Ann Arbor district, and this will be my last post with regard to the Saline district (except perhaps to respond to a debate on this specific point). I realize there is no way of enforcing this suggestion, but I do think it is the honorable thing to do. As several individuals have suggested, it might help of you identified yourselves as district residents in your posts -- that way, one might reasonably assume that anyone who does NOT self-identify as a resident is from out-of-district, and his/her comments be regarded accordingly. (Of course, that wouldn't stop someone from lying, but I'd like to think we're all above that...)


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 8:27 p.m.

Let's see. The teachers can give up their raises for the next two years, the District can eliminate sports, music, etc., busing and perhaps kindergarten. None are state mandated. That ought to do it!


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 6:48 p.m.

And another thing. Why does every administrator need a Nextel (although now I hear that each one of them has an I-phone). What about a walkie-talkie instead, that costs nothing except to charge the battery. What ever happened to just picking up the telephone? What is so "urgent" that cannot wait. And, why do they need so many assistant principals? I can't believe they have so many discipline problems that they need 3 (or is it 4 now) asst. principals at the high school? What does the PRINCIPAL do. That's ridiculous.


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 6:44 p.m.

KUDOS to the Superintendent of Saline Area Schools. He is the FIRST supt. to even THINK, much less act upon, opening up the MEA and administrators' contracts. Just for the MEA, if they pay 30% of their benefits and there are, say 300 teachers, there's your 1.5 million dollar savings right there. That has nothing to do with "hurting the kids" as they would like for you to believe. Get with the real world. Times have changed. Why should I take a pay cut, now pay for more of my health insurance and then you're asking me to pay MORE taxes so that the MEA and administrators can continue to NOT pay for their benefits. Makes no sense.


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 6:25 p.m.

Saline Area Schools is paying their teachers? If teachers really cared about the kids, they would do their job for free! How dare they hold use hostage, expecting paychecks, benefits, and a retirement plan. Pigs, each and every one of them. ---- They should have to accept 30% pay cuts, be unemployed, and pay $500 a month for insurance, just like me and every other person in the entire united states. Here's a link that proves it --- I lost my job when my hands got cut off in a work related accident, and I still don't need a union to demand a safe workplace. And when they replaced me with a 12 year old that worked for less, I didn't go complain to the MEA, did I? I will be so happy when all of the unions are gone. Unions are obsolete, and are no longer necessary because CEO's have become so fair and reasonable. I mean, look at AIG! ---- I think we should just run the schools with a public forum like this one. We will just set up polls and surveys, and we can fire and hire teachers and public employees based on public input. We could put up a vote to what teachers are good and which are bad. That would be great. What are you afraid of teachers?? That is how businesses work. We need more business in school. We can trust those corporations more than our public school teachers, that went to school to work 180 days a year and be done with school before 2:00. If you were doing a great job, and really cared about the kids, you'd stop hiding behind your union.


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 6:23 p.m.

Yikes, I meant ROI.


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 6:20 p.m.

treetowncartel: Sure, there are all kinds of state employees who could stand to have their salaries cut, and many already have. I believe the average is somewhere in the 9-12% range, but that percentage is anecdotal, and not based on hard data. For hard data, I have to go no further than my semi-annual tax bill for an eye-watering look at how much is allocated to local schools. To beat a dead horse deader, virtually everyone else has had to make do with less, in many cases far less, so how about the educators taking their turn too? (Before somebody jumps in and flays me with 'you don't care about education, etc., please show me the data which conclusively proves that higher paid teachers produce a superior product. The US currently has the second highest per student expenditure (behind Switzerland), but ranks somewhere in the mid-thirties against many countries that spend a tiny fraction of what we do. That is an ROE that I can do without.


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 5:56 p.m.

And why is it that everyone posting here thinks a public school teacher should be the only public employee servant taking a cut in wages and benefits to help the State out. why not employees at u ofM, those that work for the court system, state employees and the list goes on. For example, your tax dollars go to help pay the salaries of the people who worjk at the U of M, but nobody on this site is complaining about the carte balnce benefits they have. Take a look at them for yourself, probably a better gig that a public school teacher, you don't even need a BA for some of the jobs there. for those of you who do not want to click on the link here is the cut and paste of the retirement benefits. note the matching 2 to 1 with your tax dollars. Retirement Plan The University offers Fidelity and TIAA-CREF retirement savings options. Employees can choose to use either or both for their 403(b) Basic Retirement Plan investments. Features of the U-M retirement savings plan include: Self-managed You can meet with Fidelity Investments or TIAA-CREF financial advisors to manage your 403(b) as you see fit or manage your account(s) online. 2-for-1 Matching With a 5 percent employee contribution, the University automatically contributes double that amount (10 percent of your salary). For example, an employee with a salary of $40,000 would designate $2,000 (5 percent) to the 403(b); the University would contribute $4,000 (10 percent) annually. Immediate Vesting The entirety of the Universitys 10 percent contribution is added to the 403 (b) immediately and is the property of the employee. Supplemental Retirement Account If you would like to invest more than 5 percent of your salary, you have the option of setting up a supplemental account for additional contributions (employer match doesnt apply to supplemental accounts). I think all those opposed to the millage should now spend their efforts reducing our tax burden and letting Lansing know the U of M is sucking us dry.


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 5:51 p.m.

Uhm, 6 hours a day, talk about getting your facts straight. School is in seession for longer than 6 hours and everything is not done between the bells ya know.


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 5:04 p.m.

This is the Saline educator's contract (courtesy of the Mackinaw Center- and although I always feel the urge to shower after leaving their site, I do appreciate their providing factual information to the public): In addition to a 2.5% raise yearly, page 62 shows the step raise schedule. I am not a Saline parent, but does it really matter? All parents with kids in Michigan public school are in the same boat: up a river without a paddle! I will be interested to see how the Saline unions respond. They certainly have no obligation to do renegotiate anything, but kudos to the Saline school district to at least "try"...


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 4:54 p.m.

The following FREEP article says it all. Our children entering elementary school will have graduated before the State of Michigan economy is back to the level of the prosperous 1990s. Things have to change for the long term forecasts.


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 4:50 p.m.

swmprnt13 is right.."Cost continue to rise; Diesel for busses, energy costs, healthcare and retirement costs"..costs will keep going up but a lot can be done to reduce the impact on teachers and the students....a great example is changes to busing. I saw this last week...a father walked his daughter two blocks away from the school so that the daughter could catch a school bus. The bus stop is 5 blocks from the school. Why didn't he just walk his daughter directly to was only one block further.... Every morning parents and kids are standing at this bus stop waiting for the bus. Just walk your kid to school, it would be faster, and cost the school less. I love how AA claims to be green, but we can't even walk our kids to a school that is five blocks or less away? Why would the schools even have a bus stop that close to the school? The schools just waste money and encourage a lot of parents to be lazy.

sas parent

Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 4:39 p.m.

I am a Saline parent and voted against the millage. For years our administrators and teachers have been untouched by cuts. It's time they shared in the cuts instead of always hitting on the lowest paid support employees who now have basically nothing left to cut out. And if history repeats itself, they will be the FIRST group, again, to be affected. So unfair.


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 4:15 p.m.

The donation which I made to the Saline Area Schools last night consisted of two checks for $292 each, one from my remodeling company and one from my personal account. The $292 represents the current per pupil reduction from the State at this time. I do not have any children in the District but I am proud of the Saline schools which play a major role in the quality of life enjoyed by most of our residents. The portion of our property taxes (18 mills) which goes to the State for redistribution to the Districts does not begin to cover the actual cost of educating even one child for one year. I would like to see those who are able to, donate a similar amount to the School District of their choice to maintain the current standard of excellence until the State can decide how to fix the existing system. What is being done now to finance our K-12 system does not work.


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 4:10 p.m.

I hope the AAPS administrators are taking notice. Three cheers, and full marks to the Saline district in considering teacher compensation as a possible budget item. Why, oh why must we always consider teacher/administrator compensation as untouchable? The implication here being that reducing teacher pay will have a deleterious effect on students' performance. I say balderdash. The American Way of throwing more money at every problem is dying a slow and painful death. Good riddance. Truth in advertising: my two eldest children go to private school, my third child attends public school in AA. My own primary education spans five continents and seven countries, including private, military and international schools. My own two cents: EXCELLENT TEACHERS produce excellent results, no matter what they are paid. And, as a corollary, rotten teachers, no matter how well paid, will still stink.


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 4:06 p.m.

Perhaps parents should think twice before adding to the population not evryone has kids. Parents should be held accountable and ensure they can provide an education. What are kids learning in school anyway most are just taught whats needed for the next MEAPS. Some Schools are just babysitting arrangements much cheaper than having to employ a nanny.

Art Vandelay

Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 3:22 p.m.

Lisa, before you start throwing around numbers please get your facts straight. Starting teachers don't make $30,000 per year so your 10% number is way off. In Ann Arbor a first year teacher with a BA begins at $39,540 (with a Masters it's over $44.5k, and Special Ed starts at over $47k). Even with the 0% raise a first year teacher would see a 7% pay hike through the step to year two. They also get health insurance benefits of around $12,500 and their retirement benefits add over 16% more, putting the total near $60,000. Then consider that their pay is based on 6 hour work days and 181 work days per year which comes to 1,086 work hours vs. 2,000 or more for a full time job. If the teachers are truly concerned about their students a $3,000 cut is minimal vs. larger class sizes and other cuts being discussed. The AAPS budget figures the savings from cutting one teacher is actually about $90,000 per year. I know this discussion is about Saline but I have to believe the pay rates are very similar.

Jimmy Olsen

Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 2:56 p.m.

@Lisa Starrfield Show me some statistics that show starting teacher salaries with a 10% pay cut are significantly less than those in "industries". I work in the insurance industry - never had a 10k bonus, my cell phone is paid for since I am on-call 24/7/365. Never had a company car, yet I've taken all kinds of cuts in the last 2 years. Don't just toss out generalizations unless you can back them up with FACTS. Maybe the highest paid teachers can give up 15% and only the starting teacher 5%.


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 2:56 p.m.

I am not suggesting that every teacher, administrator, janitor an so on take a $3000 pay cut. What I am suggesting is opening peoples minds. The system is seriously broken and some hard ideas will be posed locally and at the state level. Why does every district have to negotiate their health benefits? Would a state wide system be better suited? Teachers ask your union representatives for ideas that could work to cut back costs. Take a look at the auto industry, white collar employees have lost their retirement plans, and their health care benefits after they retire. Blue collar workers have taken serious cuts also or lost their jobs. This is not a simple fix. Michigan continues to loose both jobs and people to other states. Where is the income to pay for jobs and programs going to come from. What I am suggesting is people need to start contacting your senators and representatives and tell them the importance of maintaining a good education for our students. It is time for a change, you can't keep taxing the people who are left because pretty soon there will be plenty more empty buildings and houses because people can not stand to live in this state.


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 2:52 p.m.

Lisa, "starting positions" in the private sector don't have their cell phones paid for or many of those other perks you mentioned. And yes, they take paycuts in bad times and don't usually get them back when times are good. Lehigh - things were not booming in June of 2008. Long before then my company told everyone there would be no pay increases that year. 2.5% is not a minimum that everyone gets in the private sector. Many with good performace reviews get less or nothing. Dr. I. Emsayin - my kids go to Salne schools and I would like to also add the disctrict has something to be proud of for having higher rated schools than Ann Arbor with spending per pupil close to the national average of $8,700 compared with Ann Arbors $11,500 (2006-2007 school year numbers).

Basic Bob

Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 2:21 p.m.

@Lisa Starrfield: Are we just expected to have low salaries in good times and shut up and take the cuts in bad? Yes. That 'other' job you describe has been eliminated due to headcount reductions, and we are working at Sam's Club or Home Depot.


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 2 p.m.

"IF all 582 Saline education employees took a $3000 pay cut, which many in the private sector have done lately, that would free up $1.75M and then actually have a surplus in the budget." Swmprnt13, which employers have done that? When the economy recovers, are you proposing that teachers get treated like private employees and gain bonuses? Quite honestly - not everyone has had their salary cut in the recession. Why should teachers? Has yours been cut?


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 1:36 p.m.

A smart school will not cut athletics. Why? If a school cuts athletics you can bet parents will be taking kids out of that school so that they can go to the school of choice school one town over that has sports programs. Unless all schools in the county cut sports then the schools that do cut the sports will be the ones that loose. You may say that is a dumb thing for parents to do but it will happen that way. Kids and parents want their kids to be able to participate in school athletics. It is one of the staples of the American society.

Jim Mulchay

Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 1:31 p.m.

Saline has "Pay-to-Participate" for athletics - I believe they started in 2007 or 2008. See - pull down for "Pay to Participate"; Dexter does also - see - started in 2007 or 2008;

John of Saline

Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 1:28 p.m.

Perhaps some longer-term thinking is in order. Like, say, having a policiy of setting aside a certain percentage of funds in "good times" to avoid lean-years shortfalls like this, instead of blowing it all on a palatial high school (for instance).

Lisa Starrfield

Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 1:23 p.m.

You are asking a starting teacher to take a 10% pay cut from an already low salary compared to many of his/her peers in industry. Will you also give us ten thousand dollar bonuses when the economy is good? Will you pay for our cell phones? Give us a company car? Trips? Like so many in industry do in fat times? Or are we just expected to have low salaries in good times and shut up and take the cuts in bad?


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 1:17 p.m.

I am a parent of a Saline HS student. I was at that meeting. There were so many people that the HS Superintendent had to open the back doors to allow almost everyone into the room. I am glad the board listened to those in attendance. And actually 1/2 were actually SHS students concerned about their future. My biggest concern is to get this budget in line ASAP. IF all 582 Saline education employees took a $3000 pay cut, which many in the private sector have done lately, that would free up $1.75M and then actually have a surplus in the budget. That will be hard to accomplish as Saline has 3 or 4 union contracts in place. I ask why does Saline have so many unions/contracts. The major issue at hand is the State of Michigan is in major financial problems. Without restructuring the way our schools are funded the school districts face even deeper cuts next year to the tune of $375-$600 per student or $2-3.5M. Where do we balance the school budget? Cost continue to rise; Diesel for busses, energy costs, healthcare and retirement costs, along with Teacher's salaries. Can things be consolidated such as Healthcare and retirement, yes but it will take all the unions to agree. Is it hopeful, probably not. So where do we as parents go. We have 9 months to lobby our legislature for major reforms to education funding. Either consolidate costs to a regional or state basis, or return the funding of schools to a local level. Don't sit around waiting around waiting for Lansing to solve things. It will not happen.


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 1:14 p.m.

Dr. I Emsayin, You neglected to say what school district your children are enrolled in...

Dr. I. Emsayin

Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 12:36 p.m.

I wonder how many of the commenters have children in Saline Schools. Please identify whether you have actual children attending Saline Area Schools in your comment. I see your posts on every tax related site putting down unions and government.


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 12:12 p.m.

Lisa, I agree that sports are much less important than other things. The problem is that you could cut sports completely and still wouldn't bridge the budget gap. Same for music, transportation, and special courses. You can strip a district bare and STILL have to address employee compensation.


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 12:06 p.m.

There may be better approaches than indexing salaries to per-pupil funding, but the idea is to link compensation to how much money is actually coming into the district rather than something disconnected like cost of living. Making automatic adjustments to all compensation when gross income fluctuates would (a) save time and turmoil when state funding changes, and (b) avoid the rush to throw away everything that isn't nailed down (i.e. transportation, sports, AP) every time funding is cut just to avoid another conflict with a union. The turmoil exhausts everyone and destroys relationships, while the repeated purging of 'nonessentials' leaves bare bones districts that nobody wants to support anyway.


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 11:53 a.m.

It's about time the teachers union contracts are opened! Cut pay and decrease health care benefits just like the manufacturing sector has done. No one cared about that. The automotive industry carried Michigan for years and no one cared when all the jobs were being eliminated and transferred to Mexico. That's right people, the trickle down effect is finally getting to you. So keep right on driving your foreign cars...can't say I feel sorry for you.

Lisa Starrfield

Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 11:51 a.m.

Inside the Hall, You are adamantly against charging for sports and extra curricular activities but apparently support larger class sizes and teacher pay cuts. Get your priorities straight. School are about the academics and not football. If this economic crisis is so bad that you think teachers should have paycuts, maybe football and other sports should disappear altogether instead. The costs of coaching, insurance, busing, etc must add up. Are you folks screaming about living within our means? Well, academics is the greater priority over football and other sports. Cancel them before you touch the classroom. You don't like that idea? Then maybe you should have voted for the millage.


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 11:46 a.m.

I'm glad compensation is on the table. Just a few comments: 1) As to why Macs, I don't know the exact numbers (and if they net out cheaper than PCs), but Apple provides heavy discounts to schools for Macs -- because they want kids to grow up to buy Macs. Not sure if the school board gets the same educational discount. 2) June 2008 was before any of the serious warning signs about the economic crisis. I don't think the Saline board acted unwisely in signing a long-term contract at that point. If they knew then what they know now, sure, it's not great. But they didn't know. And a 2.5% wage increase sounds fantastic now, but keep in mind in June 2008 when things still seemed like they were booming, private sector raises were more than 2.5%. 3) A2CarGuy has a great idea with indexed compensation, but I'm not sure it's best to index it to per-student compensation. Better to index it to typical metrics like COLA. That protects teacher's standards of living while not setting up any perverse incentives for teachers to lobby for more money for schools just so they get paid more money. 4) The salaries aren't as big an issue as the benefits -- health care and retirement. That's likely something that needs to be taken up at the state level.


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 11:22 a.m.

2.5% built-in salary increase every year regardless of performance? Must be nice.


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 10:17 a.m.

Wow! Real leadership in Saline. Good for them and good for the unions. This is how to build community support for the schools. Ideally they could just index compensation (salary or benefits) to the per-pupil funding for union AND non-union staff alike. Then everyone would be on the same side and could work together to lobby Lansing for whatever funding is possible. No more ugly battles between professionals and the students don't have to suffer. If other districts will follow this example Washtenaw schools might just make it. Heck, we might even pass a millage someday.

Some Guy in A2

Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 10:10 a.m.

@Janelle, As an IT guy, I'd say the advantage in buying the macs was a much lower cost of maintenance. Plus, feature-for-feature, Mac computers are not more expensive (plus or minus a hundred dollars or so) than comparable other hardware. It is true, though, that you can skimp significantly on hardware to lower your short-term purchase price, but that almost always ends up in a lower usable life of the computer.


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 10:03 a.m.

Why did the district agree to such a long term contract that included raises when everyone saw the economic crisis ahead?


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 9:59 a.m.

Kudos to Graden. It is high time the unions come to the table and offer give backs. Heck, even the UAW has done that. Charging more for sports and other extras is not acceptable. Education is the last protected bastion and their day has now arrived. Most of us in the private sector would be happy to maintain our income and the unions are snatching 2.5% a year. Press hard Supt. Graden the community has your back.

Janelle Baranowski

Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 9:52 a.m.

MacBook computers? Was there some advantage a Mac (at a $1000 price tag) provided over a PC (which can be bought for $500-600)? Other than the stylish lines and 'cool' factor?