Willow Run teachers took some pay concessions, but taxpayers on the hook for fully paid health care through 2014
Although the legislature passed a law ensuring that all public sector employees pay at least 20 percent of their health care premiums, teachers at Willow Run Community Schools are scheduled to get their health care insurance at no cost through the 2014 school year.
That's because the school district agreed to a five-year deal in 2010 that had the district paying 100 percent of health care costs in return for pay cuts ranging from 2.5 percent to 4 percent in three of the five years the contract covered. The contract was approved in May 2010 and covered the 2009-2010 through 2013-2014 school years.
The Willow Run district was in its fifth consecutive year of running a deficit when it agreed to the deal, according to state of Michigan records. Including 2011-2012, the district has now been in deficit seven consecutive years.
Superintendent Laura Lisiscki said in an email that Willow Run teachers were the first in the county to negotiate a concession.
"The contract length was tied to the concession and it was before the deep cuts made to our annual state aid allocation," Lisiscki said. "Also, cuts made later at the federal level were just not anticipated back in 2010."
A teacher with 10 years of experience and a bachelor’s degree in the district earned $56,947 at the beginning of the contract. That teacher would give up $5,410 in concessions over the five-year length of the contract.
The district did not provide cost information for teacher health plans, but a family health insurance plan for a principal cost the district $15,744 in 2009-10, district records show.
Dennis Moore, director of the Willow Run Tea Party Caucus, said the district put a lot of money on the table for teachers when the district was in deficit.
"It seems a whole lot of money was put on the table just to get them to sign a contract," he said. "It wasn't the teachers' fault. I don't know who was the doing the numbers on that or who offered them that. Good for teachers. But it's not good in the day we are tightening the belt. Somebody else is going to have to pick up the slack that was left on the table."
Moore said his wife works at Eastern Michigan University and had to start paying 20 percent of her health care premiums.