Media claims mislead on 'salary cuts'First in a series on education
In Ann Arbor Public Schools, students will be charged for taking some classes and they'll pay more to play sports while many teachers get raises.
The district is charging students for taking classes and increasing fees to play sports as part of a plan to eliminate a $8.7 million deficit for 2013-14.
The Ann Arbor Public School Board approved charging students $100 if they want to take a seventh class. The ACLU has called that illegal.
Additionally, a high school student will have to pay $250 to play a sport in 2013-14, an increase from $150.
Numerous media reports mentioned that “all teachers” in Ann Arbor Public Schools would take a 3-percent salary reduction for 2013-14. However, that reduction applied only to the salary schedule and not teachers' salaries. Teachers were allowed to still move up a step on the salary schedule, meaning many still received a raise because the salary increase for moving up a step was larger than the 3-percent reduction.
For example, a sixth-year teacher with a master's degree had a salary of $61,873 in 2012-13. That sixth-year salary spot on the scale was reduced to $60,017 for 2013-14. However, that teacher moves up to the seventh-year slot in the salary schedule and would make $63,589 in 2013-14, a 2.8 percent increase from the original salary level.
Any teacher who hadn't reached the top of the salary scale, or 10th year, received a step raise.
In the fall 2011, 546 Ann Arbor Public School teachers had 10 or fewer years of experience while 629 teachers had 11 or more years of experience, according to Michigan’s Center for Educational Performance and Information.
"AAPS (Ann Arbor Public Schools) worked very hard with the teachers' union to reach a fair agreement," Ann Arbor Public Schools Spokeswoman Liz Margolis said in an email. "The AAEA (union) has come to the table for the past many years and agreed to concessions that have assisted the district's deficit. The concessions they agreed to this year are very important and fair considering what we have asked them to do in the past. They were the first unit to agree to concessions, which then allowed the district to negotiate with the other eight represented units to obtain concession and to invoke concessions on the non-represented employees. Every employee is taking a concession this year. Every employee is contributing to make up the ongoing deficit that plagues not only AAPS but every public school district in the state due to the inadequate funding policies of public education in Michigan."
Audrey Spalding, education policy director at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said the school board should have taken more time to find more concessions from the teachers instead of signing a three-year deal in March — a week before the right-to-work law became effective.
"The school board acted irresponsibly when it failed to push for large savings from the teachers' union," Spalding said. "The board knew that AAPS was facing a budget deficit, and would have to make cuts."
Instead, Spalding said, the board signed a contract that gave many teachers raises.
"By failing to negotiate significant savings from its teacher union, the Ann Arbor school board had to balance part of its budget by hitting students and families with fees. Sadly, the board's priorities are clear," Spalding said.
Leon Drolet, chairman of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance, said the school district's priorities were protecting union salaries and benefits.
"The lowest people on the totem pole as usual were the students who are the ones who have to pay for it and are losing opportunities,” Drolet said. "It's a world turned upside down — a pay cut is not a pay cut and a free education is not free.”