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

Even though the Bloomfield Hills Schools’ district website recently promoted a 5 percent pay cut taken by Superintendent Robert Glass, some of his teachers will see their salaries jump by 28 percent over a two-year period. The Bloomfield Hills Board of Education signed a 4-year contract with its teachers union that has locked in the raises.

The Bloomfield Hills Schools website recently praised the cuts. The posting (which has since been taken down) read:

“The district’s Deficit Prevention Plan includes a 5% pay reduction for the superintendent; step and wage freezes and 2% pay reductions through furlough days for Cabinet members, unaffiliated employees, and other administrators (subject to negotiations); …. The total effect is more than $2 million in reductions effective July 1.”

However, missing from the cost reductions is how the teachers are impacted. There are 507 full-time teaching positions in the district, and they account for 48 percent of the district’s full-time jobs.

The district is required by state law to post a listing of employees with total annual compensation (salary plus benefits) exceeding $100,000. The current report shows that in 2009 there were more than 260 employees with the job description "teacher" above the $100,000 mark. This is more than half of the district’s reported full-time teaching positions.

The superintendent’s total compensation for 2009 was listed at $285,406.

The largest salary increases for the teachers come in the final two years of their “step increases” as they reach their 10th and 11th years of service. Step increases are automatic pay hikes based upon years of service that many school district union contracts provide for. About 289 of the 507 teachers have 10 years or less experience as of 2010-11, making them eligible for the automatic raises.

For example, a teacher in her ninth year with a master’s degree would have been paid a $67,509 salary in 2009-10. That teacher would be raised to $79,010 in 2010-11, and is scheduled to be paid $86,336 in the upcoming 2011-12 school year. That’s a 28 percent increase over two years. Those teachers would then be top-of-the-scale and not eligible for any more automatic “step” increase raises, but would still receive across the board raises if those were included in a new contract. Teachers with bachelor’s degrees saw similar pay hikes.

But other teachers with less experience didn’t suffer financially.

For example, a teacher with a bachelor’s degree with six years of experience would have had a salary of $50,715 in 2008-09, according to the teacher’s union contract. At the start of the 2011-12 school year, the teacher’s salary would raise to $60,797 — a 19.8 percent increase over three years.

Also, at the start of the upcoming school year, teachers already at the top of the scale will receive bonuses that range between $763 and $923.

And if the teachers undergo a “health risk assessment,” they will have half of their annual contribution for health insurance premiums reduced. A full-family plan costs the employee a co-pay of $1,000 per year — only a fraction of the actual cost.

For 2009, the district reports that its share of medical insurance costs ranged between $13,334 and $16,716 per employee for the majority of the district’s highest paid employees. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that the average employer-provided medical insurance plan in Michigan requires employees to kick in 21 percent of the cost. The national average is 27 percent.

“As the district starts the cutbacks they have imposed on everyone else, impose it on the teachers, too,” said Pradeep Mehra, a Bloomfield resident who has run for the Board of Education.

Mehra thought the teachers’ contract should have been re-opened.

Glass said in an email that administrators are trying to lead by example as they head into negotiations this fall and that a “deficit prevention committee” for the district expressed “the strong belief” that current health and retirement benefit levels “are unsustainable.” He notes that this message is also coming from Lansing, and gave the example of a Legislative proposal that would mandate a 20 percent employee premium sharing for school health insurance.

“We currently enjoy a good relationship with our teachers and other employee groups, which tends to promote a positive learning environment for the entire organization,” Glass wrote. “We work through difficult issues together in a spirit of problem-solving and compromise, and it has served us well. We value our teachers and their right to advocate for their needs, even as we value our right to advocate for those of the organization. In the end, I trust the process and the people involved to find the right solutions.”

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See also:

Coverage of School District Claiming Cuts

The Willie Sutton Rule: Cutting state spending requires going where the money is: K-12 education

Step Increases: The Big Teacher Raises That Don’t Make the News

The 32 Percent Teacher Pay Hikes at Birmingham Schools

Does the Lansing School District Really Pay ‘Below the Poverty Line’ for Teachers?

Average Eaton Rapids Teacher’s Salary $55,826 ; Contributes Just 2 Percent for Health Plan

Average Comstock Teacher Receives $53,756 in Salary, Contributes Just 5 Percent for Health Plan

Hartland Teachers to Share in Belt-Tightening

Unusual: For 30 Years Teachers Share Almost Half of Health Care Cost in Grand Ledge

Will the Snyder K-12 Plan Really Cause 40-Student Classrooms in Novi?

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