News Story

Lake Orion Teachers Health Benefits 52 Percent Above Private-Sector Average

Under the Lake Orion Community Schools' teachers union contract, the average teacher salary was $66,539 in 2009, which is 7 percent higher than the statewide average. The district provides health benefits costing $15,679 for the most commonly selected plan, which is 52 percent more costly than insurance provided to the average private-sector worker in Michigan.

Starting this year, teachers will contribute a nominal amount toward their coverage, but still far below the average 20 percent insurance contribution made by private-sector workers in Michigan. Previously, these Lake Orion school employees contributed nothing toward their coverage.

Many Lake Orion teachers collect substantially more than the average salary — as much as $79,850 for those at the top end who have accumulated additional pedagogy credentials and have more than five years on the job. The minimum salary was $55,017 for those meeting these criteria, which are the only criteria for setting teacher pay, since student performance is not considered.

Employees covered under the union contract receive automatic “step” pay hikes that range from 2 to 10 percent for each additional year on the job until they “top out” on the salary schedule; after that, they collect added “longevity” payments of between $949 and $3,269 each year. Coaching and accepting duties in other extracurricular programs draws additonal amounts ranging from $1,977 to $7,513 annually. Also, 28 different department chairpersons receive an extra $325 annually.

In addition to the health coverage described above, the district provides dental, vision, life ($50,000) and long-term disability insurance. Employees who opt out of the regular insurance because they’re covered under a spouse’s plan still get these additional benefits, plus an additional $100 per month.

Based on the current state-run teacher pension system, a Lake Orion teacher retiring after 30 years will get a $35,933 annual pension (based on the final “step” on the salary schedule), which they can begin collecting from their early 50s on. For many teachers this amount increases by 3 percent each year. Retired teachers also get subsidized health insurance.

Lake Orion schools collected $12,358 per student in property tax levies, state and federal grants in 2008-2009, of which around 70 percent was paid out to employees covered by the union contract described here.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.