GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Grand Rapids school leaders turned down the latest contract proposal from the district's teachers union, but the sides are expected to return to the bargaining table soon, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

The teachers' bargaining team offered a two-year deal which would have included paying more for prescription medicine and a 2 percent raise through the end of the school year, The Press reported.

The sides are to meet Monday with a state fact-finder, but Fredericka Williams, executive director of human resources, said in a statement that the district believes agreement can be reached before that step, The Press reported.

Grand Rapids Education Association President Paul Helder told The Press that the board has not been forthcoming with financial data.

District spokesman John Helmholdt told The Press that board members are concerned about a Senate Fiscal Agency report that state revenue is likely to be below previous forecasts, and that state leaders will need to dig deeper into federal stimulus money to cover that gap.

Teachers now pay between $5 and $10 for prescriptions, but the proposal called for them to pay between $10 and $20, plus other charges depending on the medication. Helder has said the move would save the district about 8 percent on its health insurance premiums.

SOURCES:
The Grand Rapids Press, "Grand Rapids Public Schools leaders reject teachers union's contract proposal," March 17, 2009

FURTHER READING:

Michigan Education Digest, "GRPS board votes 'no confidence' in union; won't collect union dues," May 27, 2008

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