News Story

School Board Member (and Teacher) Votes Down Teacher Union Contract

Pamela Hornberger looked at her school district’s financial projections:

L’Anse Creuse Public Schools administrators said that the district was projecting a $6 million deficit by the end of 2012-13 and a $19 million deficit at the end of 2013-14, with zero fund balance.

So Hornberger, a school board trustee at L’Anse Creuse Schools, who is also a teacher in the East China School District and married to a L’Anse Creuse teacher, was the only “no” vote June 10 when the board recently approved the teachers’ new three-year agreement by a 6-1 vote.

Hornberger said a three-year deal was too long.

On her Facebook page, Hornberger said she based her vote on the financial data provided by the school administration.

Hornberger wrote that an emergency financial manager “will most certainly be in our future if we reach a $19 million deficit in 2014, because there will be no way to plug that hole and it will only compound after that.”

“Teachers are bashed in the press every day. I did not want the L'Anse Creuse teachers to feel unsupported by me. But, when given the financial projections from our administration, the decision was very clear. A three-year agreement is not a sound financial move,” Hornberger wrote later in a Facebook message.

None of Hornberger’s financial data were included in the school’s press release announcing the new teacher’s pact.

L’Anse Creuse Public Schools’ press release mentioned that the three-year contract would save $9 million.

Superintendent DiAnne Pellerin didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.

But in the press release, she stated: “I am very pleased with the collaborative attitude demonstrated by both parties that led to this contract agreement. We were committed to a plan that focused on the overall needs of the district so that we can continue to provide exceptional learning opportunities to every student in L’Anse Creuse Public Schools.”

Michael Van Beek, education policy director at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, commended Hornberger for taking a stand.

“It sounds like even with a concessionary contract, they will need to do more in terms of cost savings to avoid having potentially an emergency manager in the district,” Van Beek said. “If they can’t correct things, that is the end result. … If they continue on that path and don’t make changes, then that’s where the role of the emergency manager comes in.”

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.