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Brandywine teachers have tentative contract agreement

Published 11:09pm Monday, May 10, 2010

By JESSICA SIEFF
Niles Daily Star

Teachers and support staff saw tentative agreements passed Monday night by the Brandywine Community Schools Board of Education.

But what they didn’t see were similar votes.

The tentative agreement announced during the board’s April 27 meeting and more details were given Monday night.

Included in the agreement, Superintendent John Jarpe said, was a stipend of a one-time payment to teachers of $750 this year and $1,000 next year.

Aside from the stipend, Jarpe said, teachers would work under “the same salary schedule with no lasting increases.”

Also included in the agreement a “voluntary severance option.”

Jarpe said teachers have until June 23 to inform him should they opt for resignation to receive a one-time payment of $10,000.

The option is in the interest “to minimize layoffs,” Jarpe said, “which all of you know has been a painful experience.”

Those teachers opting to resign could allow for teachers recently laid off to be recalled.
Also negotiated in the tentative agreement, Jarpe said is a seven period school day and some changes will be seen in next year’s school calendar – school will actually end two days earlier than usual.

“Some of these terms certainly took a long time to deal with and negotiate,” Jarpe said.
Trustee Janis Exner made a motion to accept the agreement with district teachers, supported by Trustee Doris Schoenleber.

But the vote split down the line with President Jim Curran and trustees Michael Shelton and Dennis Cooper voting against the agreement.

“I personally can not support a pay raise in these economic times,” Curran said. “So I vote no.”

The agreement passed with a final vote of 4-3.

When it came to a proposed agreement with support staff however, board members were very expressive about their gratitude to members of that staff: bus drivers, food service workers and maintenance workers.

The agreement, like that of the teachers’, Jarpe said, would last through June 2011.

Support staff and members of the board agreed “to the same wage scale as now,” Jarpe said. Full time workers will “contribute five percent toward health benefits,” paid holidays have been reduced from eight to four and sick days from ten to eight.

There will also be no payment to bus drivers on snow days.

Trustee Robb DeJonge made a motion to accept the terms, supported by Cooper.

The vote to approve those terms was unanimous.

“I’m really pleased with the support staff’s teamwork and desire to work with the board during this tough time,” Shelton said.

“I see some bus drivers here, tonight,” Curran added, echoing Shelton’s sentiments. “And thank you very much, you have no idea how much that helps the district.”

Jarpe made a point to say he was not looking or having contact with any organization to contract any outside services and thanked those members of support staff as well.

Following the vote and other business, Curran spoke to the efforts made by administrators who have also been affected by cuts during the current economic crisis facing many Michigan school districts and districts across the country.

Curran thanked those administrators and expressed “how much we appreciate the concessions you’ve made for the last five years.”

When economic times began to get tough for the district, he said, “it was our administrators that were the first to step up.”

In 36 years, Jarpe said he’d “never” seen such an economic climate facing districts such as this one.

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