A news service for the people of Michigan from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy

Nearly every aspect of a teacher's job falls under the rules of a union contract. The following is an analysis of the current collective bargaining agreement for teachers and a few other employee groups in the East Lansing School District. The district employs about 220 teachers and enrolls 3,400 students. Of its $34 million operating budget (excluding capital and debt services expenditures), about 70 percent goes towards paying employees covered by this contract. 

Teacher salaries are determined by a single salary schedule that creates automatic raises based solely an employee’s years of experience and graduate degrees. Although teachers are evaluated (once every three years), neither these evaluations nor the performance of their students have any impact on determining teacher pay.

In East Lansing, teachers get a 4 to 6 percent automatic annual pay raise as they progress through the "steps" of the salary schedule. In addition to these "step" increases, the entire salary schedule grew by 1 percent this year. Based on this salary schedule, the vast majority of teachers in East Lansing make a base salary that's between $51,547 and $73,017. The average teacher salary in East Lansing according to the Michigan Department of Education was $62,562 in 2008. 

East Lansing school employees are not required to make any contribution to the cost of the health insurance fringe benefit the district provides. Family premiums cost the district $15,243 per employee, while the average health insurance family premium in Michigan is $11,300. Plus, teachers choosing not to enroll district's medical plan get a monthly $300 "cash-in-lieu" payment.

The contract also covers working conditions, such as the minimum number of hours teachers must be at school. Teachers are required to be at school for 31 hours per week and may not have more than 25 hours and 25 minutes of "pupil contact." Based on their 183-day annual work schedule, this amounts to 1,135 hours per year. The national average for all professions is 1,792 hours over the span of about 250 work days annually. 

School employees are entitled to a lifetime pension when they retire, and are also are given lifetime health benefits. Based on the state-run pension system's multiplier, the lifetime pension for an East Lansing teacher with 30 years experience and an average base salary of $73,017 (the final "step" on the single salary schedule) would be $32,858 annually. East Lansing teachers also get a one-time payment of 30 to 50 percent (based on highest degree earned) of their final salary from the district, and can cash in their unused sick days for $55 each. There is no limit to the number of sick days teachers may accumulate. 

The union contract also includes bonus pay for additional duties. Teachers get $29.64 per hour for teaching summer school, $30 per hour for being a "mentor teacher" and $23.29 per hour for helping to develop curriculum. Teachers can also earn extra cash by participating in an extracurricular activity, like coaching, band, drama, yearbook, debate and many others. There are more than 80 different extracurricular positions available to teachers that pay between $1,200 and $8,352 annually. 

The following is a detailed analysis of the current East Lansing School District union contract that covers teachers as well as a few other employee groups:

Table of Contents:
Salary Schedule
Fringe Benefits
Pension and Retirement Benefits
Bonus Pay for Additional Duties or Certification
Leave/Sick Time
Work Schedule/Environment
Extra Curricular Activities Compensation

Salary Schedule

  • Base salaries are determined strictly by "steps," which use a matrix of years experience and graduate credit hours and degrees.
  • There of 13 "steps" on the schedule, so teachers get automatic pay raises (4-6 percent) for their first 13 years in the district.
  • In addition to step increases, the entire salary schedule increases by 1 percent each year.
  • Teachers also receive longevity payments after achieving 14 and 19 years of employment in the district. These one-time payments range from $750 to $1,350, depending on highest earned educational degree.
  • 70 percent of teachers have graduate degrees and 71 percent have more than 5 years experience, meaning the vast majority of teachers' base salary is between $51,547 and $73,017.
  • The Michigan Department of Education reported the average teacher salary in East Lansing in 2007-08 was $62,562.

Fringe Benefits

  • District pays $15,243 for teacher health insurance family premiums.
  • Teachers contribute nothing to the cost of the premium.
  • Teachers electing to waive health insurance receive a monthly stipend of $300.
  • The average family premium plan in Michigan costs $11,300.
  • Health insurance plan: Physicians Health Plan Plus with no deductible, $5/$10 RX card, $20 office visit copay, $25 urgent care copay and $50 emergency room copay
  • The district also provides at no cost to teachers a $50,000 life insurance policy, dental, vision and long term disability insurance plans.

Pension and Retirement Benefits

  • Every teacher participates in the state-run Michigan Public School Employee Retirement System, a defined-benefit lifetime pension system
  • Pension calculation: highest 3-year average compensation X 1.5 percent X years of service
  • Retirement eligibility: 30 years of service at age 46 or 15 years of service at age 55
  • Teacher contribution: 5.4 percent of salary
  • After 55, subsidized medical, dental and vision insurance for life (employees never contribute more than 18 percent of premiums)
  • Annual pension based on 30 years experience in East Lansing School District with base salary of $73,017 (final M.A. step): $32,857.65
  • District pays 30 to 50 percent of final salary as a severance package to retiring teachers

Bonus Pay for Additional Duties or Certification

  • Curriculum department chairpersons: $1,139-$4,926, plus additional leave days
  • for curriculum business (based on experience and department size)
  • Summer school: $29.64/hr
  • Mentor teachers: $30/hr (for up to 30 hours per year)
  • Curriculum development: $23.29/hr
  • Curriculum in-service training: $17.87/hr (limited to contractual days)

Leave/Sick Time

  • 10 sick leave days per year
    • Unlimited accumulation
    • Paid $55 per day upon retirement (max of $7,500)
    • May be used for personal or immediate family illness, funerals, child care
  • Leave time for an illness or accident is paid and unlimited. Teachers are restored to position upon return to district.
  • Paid leave time: Personal business (2 days), jury duty, court appearances, educational conferences (5 days), visitation of other schools (1 day), service physical examinations
  • Unpaid leave time (restored to previous position upon return):
    • Maternity: 1 year
    • Parental and childcare: 2 years
    • Elected to union office: 2 years
    • Military: limitations dictated by federal law
    • AmeriCorps/Peace Corps: 2 years
    • Campaigning or serving in public office: 2 years
    • "Professional enrichment:" 1 year
    • Other purposes contingent on Board approval: 1 year
  • Union president: release time equal to 1/5 of teaching duties
  • District pays for 15 days for teachers to conduct union business
  • Compensated Professional Leave (sabbatical): 1 year max, up to full salary (based on years of experience)
  • Regional Michigan Education Association meetings: 1 day paid per year

Work Schedule/Environment

  • 183 work days
  • Work hours per week: 31 (must be in building 10 minutes before start and end of class)
  • Uninterrupted lunch period: 30 minutes
  • Hours per work year: 1,135
  • U.S. average hours per work year: 1,792
  • Weekly pupil contact teaching loads: 25 hours and 25 minutes
  • "Unscheduled" time per week for elementary teachers: 190 minutes
    • Must occur during school day hours
    • Teachers must not be required to supervise any classroom during this time
  • The district will use $75,000 annually to address "teacher overload" grievances, none of which may be used to hire new teachers
  • Teachers may not be required to supervise more than one recess period per week.
  • Teachers may not supervise student lunch periods.
  • All schools must make available for teachers a lunchroom, lounge, lavatory and telephone facility.

Extra Curricular Activities Compensation

  • Coaching (based on experience)
    • Head football and basketball: $7,593-$8,352
      • Assistants: $4,556-$5,315
    • Head track and soccer: $6,833-$7,593
      • Assistants: $3,797-$4,556
    • Head baseball, softball, swimming, wrestling, volleyball, lacrosse: $6,454-$7,213 
      • Assistants: $3,417-$4,176
    • Head tennis, cheerleading, gymnastics, hockey: $5,695-$6,454
      •  Assistants: $3,037-$3,797
    • Head cross country, golf, skiing: $4,935-$5,695
      • Assistants: $2,658-$3,417
  • Music and Fine Arts
    • Director of Theater: $7,213-$7,973
    • Band Director (H.S.): $6,074-$6,834
    • Drama Performance: $5,695-$6,454
    • Orchestra: $5,695-$6,454
    • Vocal Music: $5,315-$6,074
    • Stage Manager: $3,797-$5,695
    • Concert Band: $3,797-$4,556
    • Stage Band: $3,037-$3,797
    • Color Guard: $3,037-$3,797
    • Stage/Jazz Band (M.S.): $2,658-$3,417
    • Orchestra (M.S.): $2,658-$3,417
    • Band Director (M.S.): $2,278-$3,037
    • Vocal Music (M.S.): $2,278-$3,037
    • Drama Assistant: $2,278-$3,037
    • Art Club: $1,898-$2,658
    • Percussion Instructor: $1,898-$2,658
    • Stage Technician: $1,898-$2,658
    • Elementary Choir: $1,519-$2,278
  • Event Manager: $5,695-$6,454
  • Debate: $5,695-$6,454
  • Intramurals: $5,315-$6,074
  • Student Pride: $3,417-$4,176
  • Newspaper: $3,037-$3,797
  • Senior Advisor: $2,658-$3,417
  • Junior Advisor: $2,658-$3,417
  • Sophomore Advisor: $2,658-$3,417
  • Freshman Advisor: $2,658-$3,417
  • Student Council: $2,658-$3,417
  • Quiz Bowl: $2,658-$3,417
  • United Nations Club: $2,658-$3,417
  • Ceniad Advisor: $2,658-$3,417
  • National Honor Society: $2,658-$3,417
  • Key Club: $2,658-$3,417
  • Yearbook (M.S.): $2,278-$3,037
  • Debate Coach: $2,278-$3,037
  • Students Against Drunk Driving: $2,278-$3,037
  • Language Club: $1,898-$2,658
  • Student Radio: $1,898-$2,658
  • Black Student Union: $1,898-$2,658
  • Asian Pacific Affairs Club: $1,898-$2,658
  • Hispanic Club: $1,898-$2,658
  • Special Olympics coach (M.S.): $600-$2,400
  • Dance Club: $1,519-$2,278
  • Safeties: $1,519-$2,278
  • Soliloquy: $1,519-$2,278
  • Yearbook Business Manager: $1,139-$1,898
  • Middle school intramurals supervisor: $1,200

Northern Michigan University economist Hugo Eyzaguirre discusses how raising the minimum wage will hurt emerging local economies. See more at "Raising the Minimum Wage, Lowering Opportunity."


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