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

Teachers in the Plymouth-Canton Community Schools contribute nothing to the cost of their health insurance premiums, and in 2009 received an average salary of $66,644. The local school union president is also carried as a full-time employee on the district's books, but is not required to teach or provide any other service — she collects a salary and full benefits but is granted full "release-time." These are among the highlights in the current collective bargaining agreement negotiated between the district and the local arm of the Michigan Education Association union.

About 67 percent of the district's $147 million operating budget goes towards paying employees covered by this contract, which covers teachers and a few other employee groups. Plymouth-Canton enrolls about 19,000 students and employs approximately 1,080 teachers. The district spent $9,409 per pupil in 2009, a decrease of about 2 percent from the previous school year.

The base salary for most Plymouth-Canton teachers is between $60,607 and $79,743. Teachers are paid much like assembly line workers: how much an individual actually gets is determined by a single salary schedule that grants automatic pay raises based only on years on the job plus additional pedagogy credentials. Plymouth-Canton teachers receive "step" increases of five to nine percent for their first 10 years in the district. After 15 years, teachers get a special annual "longevity" payment that ranges from $300 to $1,000.

School employees receive a lifetime pension when they retire, and also expect to get lifetime post-retirement health benefits. Based on the state-run retirement system's formula, the starting pension for a Plymouth-Canton teacher with 30 years experience and an average base salary of $79,743 (the final "step" on the salary schedule) would be $35,763. For most retirees, this amount increases by 3 percent every year. The district also pays $7,500 and $100 per year on the job to teachers upon retiring. Most employees may begin collecting a pension upon reaching age of 55, or younger if he or she has 30 years of employment in public schools.

The union contract includes extra bonus pay for additional duties. Teachers can make (based on the average salary) between $50 and $86 an hour for supervising special events like dances. Bus duty and "noon" duty pay $39.63 and $32.42 per hour, respectively, and substituting for another teacher's class nets $25.67 an hour. Middle school representative leaders get an extra $1,997 per year.

The district self-funds for teacher health insurance. The Plymouth-Canton plan features no in-network deductible, co-pays of $15 to $30 for office visits, urgent care and the emergency room and a $10/$20 RX plan. The district also pays for dental, vision, life and long-term disability insurance with no cost to employees.

Working hours and conditions are also covered in the contract. It defines the "work year" as 185 days. Teachers are contractually obligated to be at school for 455 minutes per day in the high schools and elementary schools and 435 minutes in middle school. That works out to a total work year of 1,403 hours. Additionally, teachers may not required to supervise playgrounds or buses before or after school, collect money for non-education purposes, prepare form letters or perform any custodial or maintenance duties.

Teachers are allotted between 10 and 15 paid leave days per year that may be used for personal illness, illness in the immediate family, bereavement or personal business. Unused leave days can accumulate up to 180. Teachers may take unpaid leaves for one or two years for personal illness, study, international teaching, "professional growth," child care or service in the military. Upon returning from leave, teachers are guaranteed the opportunity to return to the same or an equivalent teaching position.

The district also pays out stipends for coaching and participating in other extracurricular activities, such as band, drama, student clubs and many others. Aside from the more than 40 different athletic-related positions that pay between $$1,598 and $7,949 annually, there are dozens of different extracurricular positions that pay between $1,598 and $7,272 each year.

A fully detailed analysis can be found here.

Meet James Hohman, Assistant Director of Fiscal Policy at the Mackinac Center. James discusses his latest project, an analysis of Proposal 1, the proposal on personal property tax reform that will appear on the August 5th ballot. Read more about Proposal 1 here: http://www.mackinac.org/20246


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