School board member Rebecca Walsh said the school board passed a resolution in 2013 stating the district needed to improve wages for its lowest paid teachers. “We need to be committed to our teachers,” she said. Most of the educators in Huron Valley Schools who left this past summer, she said, were those recently hired into the district. School board Vice President Jeff Long agreed. He said hiring teachers, giving them experience then watching them leave for other districts offering higher salaries was not beneficial long-term for Huron Valley Schools. “I agree with Rebecca; we have to do something with our lower scale teachers,” he said. “We’re seeing good young teachers leave for better jobs elsewhere. It’s a financial detriment.” School board member Beth Lewis also expressed her support for teachers, saying she wanted administrators to “find ways to make their compensation equal so we can retain our best talent.”
Those sentiments were welcomed by Scott Rolando, a Lakeland High School teacher who attended last week’s Board of Education meeting as a representative for the Huron Valley Education Association, the union representing the district’s educators. He said the teachers have agreed to wage cuts and lesser benefits when the economy collapsed in 2008, and now it’s time to raise them back up. It is time to “invest in our staff and trust that we are the educational professionals who are the people that know how to deliver the best possible education to the students in Huron Valley,” he said.
The teachers union currently has a contract that continues through the 2016-17 school year. It was a two-year extension of a previously approved four-year contract. That extension was approved days before Michigan’s right-to-work law took effect. The most recent teacher contracts included wage reductions, as well as increases to the step program, extending the time it takes a teacher to advance to the top of the pay scale. The district did give a 1% off-schedule payment to employees at the end of 2011 after receiving additional state funding for best practice procedures. School board President Lindsey Cotter said the board “made a commitment to support our staff” and that the board members “hope to show support for our staff” moving forward.
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