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Posted on Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 9:30 a.m.

Saline Area Schools to renegotiate collective bargaining agreements

By Danielle Arndt

Collective bargaining agreements for Saline Area Schools’ three unions will expire on June 30, and discussions are heating up as the district weighs how to proceed.

The Board of Education conducted a closed session at the end of Tuesday’s meeting to talk about the history of union contract negotiations at SAS, said Superintendent Scot Graden. No action was taken upon re-entering open session.

June 30 marks the end of a three-year extension on the agreements. The Saline Education Association, Saline Area Schools Administrators Association and the Saline Education Support Personnel contracts are all up.


Scot Graden

With the budget process quickly approaching, Graden said all thoughts are on how to balance the budget without reducing the district’s rainy-day fund any further.

Saline used about $1.3 million of its equity this school year, bringing its fund balance down from about $2.5 million to $1.2 million.

Graden said any district’s largest expense is its employees, but classroom sizes are already an issue in Saline, making staffing cuts less of a possibility.

New Trustee David Holden campaigned on the idea that bargaining agreements “need to reflect the current economic environment and contain flexibility with future cost certainty,” he said in a previous article.

Juan Lauchu, president of the SEA, said at the board’s December meeting that union members are “becoming distrustful of the board and their motives” after two attempts to reach a compromise.

Graden said he anticipates the board will conduct another closed session in February to continue discussing the union negotiations.

Staff reporter Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at



Thu, Feb 2, 2012 : 8:39 p.m.

What's the big deal? lock their arses out if they won't take cuts and hire new teachers.


Sun, Jan 15, 2012 : 9:43 p.m.

Gotta love AA.Com. Renegotiate, really? It appears to me they are beginning the negotiation process for the next contract. Renegotiating would have been a real story and was why I checked it out. Come on, AA.Com, get your act together.


Sun, Jan 15, 2012 : 5:46 a.m.

I don't have a problem with teachers getting decent pay and benefits...but it bothers me that nowhere in this article nor in the comments is there one sentence about what is best for the students in Saline. Collective Bargaining needs to include the most important "product"---our students.


Sun, Jan 15, 2012 : 2:10 p.m.

Agreed. This would consist of good teachers, paid so the district can afford enough teachers to have a good ratio of students to teacher (class size), and with enough money left for sufficient facilities, class programs (music, business classes, culinary arts, etc.), busing, and extra curricular activities (sports, clubs, arts, etc.). We must do this efficiently within the budget. If one is out of proportion, the others are less than optimal. We are out of balance with wages, benefits, and pensions. We have lived off draining the cash fund, but this is now too low to carry us through the next contract. We will have hard decisions in what we give up if we continue to be out of balance with wages weighted so heavily. Good teachers come at a cost, but it cannot be at a distructive cost for the other aspects students need from a school. The students will pay if we choose a poor balance. Teachers should be paid well, but we are paying so much that it will come from money needed for other aspects the district needs to provide for a good education for our students.


Sat, Jan 14, 2012 : 8:31 p.m.

Ivor - Let's go through this one more time...teachers have automatically been receiving 4-7% pay raises annually as they progress through the step changes PLUS all teachers receive 2.5% as the salary schedule 'grows' by that amount each year, for a total of 6.5 to 9.5% A YEAR. I'm feeling like the 99%.


Sun, Jan 15, 2012 : 2:01 a.m.

Make that climbs, damn public Ed. Ivor as an example, if you had 8 years of seniority in 2009-2010 in two years you go from $77,468 to $87,959 or an increase of $10,491 or 13.5%. This is not even based on performance, you just can't get fired. We didn't see this in the last two years in the private sector.


Sun, Jan 15, 2012 : 1:44 a.m.

I only have the payroll numbers from 2010. I also only have the contract that RTG shows. The union rejected opening the contract when the school was over budget and refused to reduce wages and raises in the last two requests. Instead, the board gave 63 teachers layoff notices. This is the $1.5 million give back teachers claim, but it was really imposed on them. I see the pay schedule grow by 2.5% in addition to the pay increases the pay schedule promises (4-7%) for time served regardless of performance. If you know something we don't, please share it. See sched a on page 62. This shows the guaranteed 2.5% year over year for the entire pay scale reading left to right. As an employee gets another year of seniority, their pay climes by about 4 to 7% as you move top to bottom. A union employee gets the growth of both seniority and the pay scale increase. I think RTG is just reading the contract, not plagiarizing a republican agenda or charter school web site. All while the school is spending the reserves it has (or had). <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

Ivor Ivorsen

Sun, Jan 15, 2012 : 1:05 a.m.

No, I'm afraid RTG shamelessly plagiarized (what would his dear old high school English teacher say?) talking points from a conservative think tank that aggressively pushes an anti-public education agenda. The talk about fiscal responsibility in this instance is just a cover for the real goal, that of dismantling public education in Michigan as we know it. Michael Van Beek, whose words RTG appropriated, wrote an editorial in August calling for Michigan school aid monies to be redirected to private schools, saying it was time to take michigan to &quot;the next level.&quot; Yikes! The discussion about about Saline district finances should not be hijacked by activists whose agendas and motives are not always clearly stated. Poorman, I'll put to you then, how much did the Saline salary schedule &quot;grow&quot; in the current contract year?


Sat, Jan 14, 2012 : 11:41 p.m.

RTG is quoting the contract that tax payers have with the saline teacher's union. This is not from a charter school agenda, this is the contract of a public school. Ivor, what is your understanding of the contract? What RTG states is also my understanding. This concerns me as a tax payer. Two years ago there were 166 of the 322 Saline teachers making over $80,000 per 180 day work year. I do not have 2012 data but two years of raises would make the 166 number much higher as the school was burning away its savings. It appears irresponsible to increase wages when the school is over budget.

Ivor Ivorsen

Sat, Jan 14, 2012 : 8:58 p.m.

&quot;...teachers get automatic annual pay raises ranging from 4 to 7 percent as they progress through the time-on-the-job &quot;steps&quot; of the salary schedule. In addition to these step increases, all teachers receive a 2.5 percent pay increase as the entire salary schedule grows by that amount each year...&quot; Source: Michael Van Beek (2010) Mackinaw Center for Public Policy. Nice cut-and-paste job man! Straight from the conservative, pro-charter school, anti-union think tank. Careful there RTG, your agenda is showing. Here's one for you, how much did the Saline salary schedule &quot;grow&quot; in 2011-2012? Take your time.


Sat, Jan 14, 2012 : 1:49 p.m.

Blah blah blah-same old thing-----people with no clue wanting teachers to take a pay cut---they already have in so many ways. Pick on somebody else---let's pick on people who get big time bonuses, or work overtime and actually get paid for working overtime, or people who leave their work at work, or people who get a 2 hour lunch break, or most importantly, people who get respected for their education, dedication, and skill. Teachers do not make enough for what they put up with in the classroom. They do so much more than the general public will ever know, so leave them alone. My daughter is 29 years old, 2 years of college education, travels the world, make 120,000 a year-----and she is NOT in the teaching field, but would not have been that successful at all without these teachers actually caring about her and spending their own time without pay after school making sure she understood the curriculum. I could never pay them enough for what they did for her.

Ivor Ivorsen

Sat, Jan 14, 2012 : 4:40 p.m.

Hold the presses! Report from pro-charter school, anti-union conservative think tank supports agenda to devalue teachers and undermine public education in Saline. ....The race to the bottom continues. Cheers.


Sat, Jan 14, 2012 : 2:23 p.m.

This is about what we can afford to pay teachers, not about emotion or fairness. I know a guy that won the lottery that didn't deserve it. We pay teachers well now. Many in the state deserve a raise or even a job. Make out a check and send it into the school, but you cannot pay someone with money that doesn't exist. From an article in April 2011: &quot;According to new data just released by the Michigan Department of Education for the 2009-2010 school year, the average teacher salary in Michigan has risen for the 13th consecutive year. This most recent data puts the figure at $63,024. If charter schools are excluded, this raises the average salary figure for unionized teachers in conventional districts to $63,445&quot;. The article then shows benefits increasing even more. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Sat, Jan 14, 2012 : 12:08 p.m.

the Saline school district has a good reputation due to the teachers and the community involvement, it appears willing to lose some of that and more property value as well.


Sat, Jan 14, 2012 : 2:57 a.m.

&quot;With the budget process quickly approaching, Graden said all thoughts are on how to balance the budget without reducing the district's rainy-day fund any further.&quot; &quot;all thoughts&quot; ? Come on Graden, stop your pandering please. Over 75% of your budget is union salaries and benefit costs. Where the heck do you think you are going to get your cost savings ? You have depleted the rainy day fund from 25 million dollars 15 years ago to where it is now at 1.2 million dollars today. You were told almost 20 years ago that this day was coming and all your people did was bury their head in the sand. The chickens have come home to roost my friend ! &quot;Juan Lauchu, president of the SEA, said at the board's December meeting that union members are "becoming distrustful of the board and their motives" after two attempts to reach a compromise.&quot; Get a Clue Lauchu, things have changed in the Saline BOA and you will no longer be able to strong arm these folks or the taxpayer any longer. The days of living large at taxpayer expense are over, we will hold you accountable moving forward. Go Green Go White


Sat, Jan 14, 2012 : 9:50 p.m.

stunhsif, please provide documentation that SAS had 25 million dollars in a rainy day fund 15 years ago. That would've been about 60% of the total budget in those years. Never happened. Unless my math is wrong, telling Mr. Graden something 20 years ago, he'd been in college. Just sayin'


Sat, Jan 14, 2012 : 2:37 a.m.

Why is it everyone always wants to go after the ones on the bottom but always overlook the 100k+ a year wages almost EVERY administrator makes? Don't get me wrong, this day and age, I'm sorry but 80k+ a year wage as a teacher? Come on, that's off the hook! The last few years you allnhave demonized the public safety people labeling them as way over paid and their Cadillac pensions and benefits etc. Etc. Now they've been cut, took concessions, pay freezes and pay a lot more into their health insurance. Well, these ridiculous administrator wages that ALL these school districts make and I'm sorry, but 70k a year max for a teacher should be pretty dang good this day and age and I'm sorry, but there is absolutely NO reason a public school administrator is making a penny more then a 100k a year. Don't like it? Go to the private sector and see how well you do! Society has lost it's mind!


Thu, Feb 2, 2012 : 8:42 p.m.

Read this link from above. Saline teachers are very well paid for 8 months work. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Sat, Jan 14, 2012 : 11:51 p.m.

You will need to pay these wages because the budget will not afford it. Call the school and find out who you send your check to..


Sat, Jan 14, 2012 : 4:55 p.m.

I'll pay a teacher $80k a year if they can teach the material and handle the drama that goes on during the school day. I can think of many 100k+ people I've worked with who would never be able to handle what a teacher handles.

Ivor Ivorsen

Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 11:59 p.m.

&quot;Now is the time. Don't fail us Mr. Holden, our school is at stake.&quot; ...and so begins the race to the bottom. Cheers.


Sat, Jan 14, 2012 : 11:25 p.m.

Then I need your help sellers to understand. Last year we were $1.3 million over budget and this came from the &quot;rainy day fund&quot;. This year our budget is lower, from what I understand. The majority of the district expenses are wages for our teachers. This is like all schools. What would we cut to save the $1.3 million plus the reduced budget? Our teachers are paid above the norm. The contract is up this year. I see no other option than to spend within our means and reduce wages. What are other options, given our budget?


Sat, Jan 14, 2012 : 4:53 p.m.

Poorman, I don't think anyone said that they should continue to spend from a rainyday fund.


Sat, Jan 14, 2012 : 1:41 a.m.

And the path to the top is to continue to spend more than our State's tax base can afford? Our state is not the booming auto industry it once was. Saline area schools spent $1.3 million more than their budget allowed. This news story says extra came out of the rainy day fund. The fund would be depleted next year if we stay on this path. The balance is now down to $1.2 million. Let me guess, you use credit cards..


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 10:31 p.m.

Much better picture of this gentleman. Good call.


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 10:06 p.m.

The wages, benefits, and pensions are not affordable. Below is a link of Saline district wages from 2010 tax information. For 180 school days (less than 1/2 of a year) where a class day is 6 hours, there were 166 teachers making over $80,000. This is significantly more than our nation's average wages for the teaching profession. Wages for teachers have not adjusted with the private sector tax base. Now is the time. Don't fail us Mr. Holden, our school is at stake. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Sat, Jan 14, 2012 : 4:52 p.m.

As someone who has taught before (albeit at the college level) the amount of time spent on teaching far exceeds the time in the school. I've had several 24x7 jobs in my career, and I have to say the amount of time spent outside of &quot;work&quot; was the greatest when I was teaching classes. I am not surprised, in fact would be if not, that the salaries are higher than the average. The cost of living in Saline and surrounding areas is far higher than the national average, and when making these kind of comparisons, we need to remember to get the full picture. If it was as simple as stated here, then don't you feel it would be already addressed? We have to face it - sales tax does not fund education anymore. The cost of teaching our students has become more and more and it will only get worse for public schools as private (often for profit) charter schools come in.


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 9:45 p.m.

There is a simple solution to the lack of funding caused by the republican's tax gift to the wealthy. Vote the republican house out of office and work toward a balance that serves all not just the wealthy.


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 9:41 p.m.

Mike don't let envy take over common sense. Now go back and reread my post.


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 9:22 p.m.

@RTG You know that Saline teachers did not receive 8% raises and you still posted that misinformation. How are you helping?


Sun, Jan 15, 2012 : 12:28 a.m.

OK. This my be helping me understand. Did the teachers reduce wages or did they give up the pay raises? I thought the $1.5 million was laying off 63 teachers that increased the class size because the teacher's union would not give up the wages and raises. <a href=""></a>


Sat, Jan 14, 2012 : 9:09 p.m.

@Poorman Why do you think the link you posted does not mention $1.5 million dollars of concessions that teachers have made in t he past two years?


Sat, Jan 14, 2012 : 6:36 p.m.

This site has a good summary of Saline and other districts. It shows 4 to 7% increases in the current contract depending on years of service. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 8:31 p.m.

Apparently you haven't read the current contract, I don't think they are due for a raise for quite some time. Past three years they have reaped 8% each year. Not bad. Don't get me wrong I have been pretty happy with most of the teachers my kids have had, but that contract was not in the best interest of the families that have to cover the overall expense of pay increases,m benefits, and all the other gummy bears.

Ivor Ivorsen

Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 9:34 p.m.

&quot;8% each year&quot;? This is a complete fiction, and I suspect the author is aware of this. These kinds of comments do not serve the interests of Saline students, parents, or educators.


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 8:53 p.m.

How about the next three years they get a 4% cut each year? I could say with certainty that most of the taxpayers did not receive 8% raises during that time. That will never happen and so we will continue to cut sports and classes to balance the budget. The schools need to make UNPOPULAR and difficult choices or be prepared for what is happening in districts that don't - emergency managers.............


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 6:23 p.m.

Salinemom you took the words right out of my fingers! Why are we going to hire a 'Professional Search Team' to hunt down principal candidates? Why don't you look right in your own back yard? Where did Mr. Graden come from? Where did David Raft come from? Why not give it to the acting principal, he deserves it! And then let's go spend some more money an radio advertising to recruit kids...what are you thinking? Saline keeps crying that they have no money but yet they keep spending it needlessly. Why don't they put it to better use and give the teachers a raise, it's the teachers that have put Saline on the map and made it one of the best in the area, not the administration.


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 4:44 p.m.

The teachers and administration left wringing their hands over budget shortfalls while the rich dance to the bank with tax windfalls. Republicans could care less about the poor and middle class kids getting an education. Just what do people think a person that goes to college for 5 years should make? Maybe the same as a cashier? Sometimes I think people that have a pathetic life and don't belong to a union are just jealous of the benefits and pensions. If I can't have it then you shouldn't either. The wealthy must sit back and laugh at the middle class fighting for scraps.


Sat, Jan 14, 2012 : 1:36 a.m.

hank - I know a number of people who work at Toys R Us and Walmart at the cash register and have master's degrees. That is the economy we are in. GE is hiring in Michigan because software engineers are cheaper here than almost anywhere else. They are actually bringing jobs back from India.


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 8:49 p.m.

One problem with your thesis hank; we have a pay and benefit system that is unsustainable, bus loads of good people that would work for less AND do a good job, and bad teachers that cannot be let go due to tenure (protectionism). You can send your kids to private school and get a better education for less money per student. How would you explain that?


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 4:21 p.m.

Saline High School runs classes wit 42 per hour already. Why stop there? Let's just put 'em all in the auditorium and fill it to capacity. Then we can get rid of all those wretched, unionized, Cadillac-benefit-hogging, tax-dollar-stealing teachers... Or… We could reward the people who chose to spend their lives in public education. That was their choice; anyone could have made that choice. We should be thanking the people who chose to serve the public good. It's not time to &quot;share the sacrifice&quot; - it's time to come together and reassess what matters. Education should be at the top of EVERYONE'S list. Saline Area Schools is one of the top-ranked districts in the state. It's no coincidence their teachers are some of the top-paid in the state. Shouldn't the top-performers be rewarded? Isn't that a private sector concept?? Decrease someone's pay and benefits, and watch their job performance decrease, too. (In this case, everyone's property values will follow, too!) Thank you, public school teachers. You aren't treated like it, but you are doing the most important work in America.

Basic Bob

Sat, Jan 14, 2012 : 11:11 a.m.

Additional teachers can be hired and class sizes can be reduced, but only if the current teachers cooperate. Face it, they're top-heavy.

Jacob Bodnar

Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 5:42 p.m.

I have nothing against public school teachers, but instead of rewarding teachers who &quot;spend their lives in public education&quot; why don't we, oh I don't know, reward teachers who teach well?


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 4:10 p.m.

Fire them all......then start over. It's time the unions get the message.


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 4:23 p.m.

Pension and benefit envy is hard to get over!


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 3:40 p.m.

Why do we continue to spend money on &quot;extras&quot; like a professional fundraiser (with the Foundation), a search firm to hire a new principal and advertising/branding campaigns when teachers are being laid off, class sizes are increasing to ridiculous numbers and we are repeatedly being asked to increase our taxes to support the schools? STOP THE SPENDING, support the devoted teachers that you have, go back to the basics and educate our children. In other words, do the job you were hired or elected to do!