A new contract in Millington provides raises for teachers and continued health insurance coverage through the Michigan Education Special Services Administration, with a cap on the amount the district will pay for premiums and higher co-pays for prescription medication.
"I look at the contract as good for our board and our employees," Superintendent Lawrence Kroswek told Michigan Education Report. The Millington Board of Education had voted early in negotiations to stop collecting union dues on behalf of the Millington Education Association and also to refuse any binding arbitration not required by law as "an incentive to get people to come to the table," Kroswek said.
The district plans to resume collecting union dues, according to Kroswek, although in the interim the association had arranged for members to pay dues to an account at a local credit union.
The new contract takes effect July 1 and runs through the 2008-2009 school year. The teacher salary schedule will not increase this year, but teachers will receive a payment equal to 0.5 percent of their salary, Kroswek said. The schedule will increase by 1.25 percent in 2007-2008 and 1.5 percent in 2008-2009. Teachers will move from what is called a $5/$10 prescription drug co-pay to a $10/$20 payment. The district will pay for up to an 8.5 percent increase in insurance costs, he said, but teachers must pay any increase after that.
"As long as they (the HEA) had a MESSA product, they were willing to settle," he said. MESSA is a third-party administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association that packages and resells insurance plans to school districts. Some Michigan school districts have moved away from MESSA in recent years, citing cost savings by purchasing insurance from another provider or by joining an insurance pool. In other districts, teachers have agreed to shift to a less-expensive MESSA PPO package or agreed to pay part of their own health care premium. Kroswek estimated the new contract will save the district $80,000 over three years.
The new contract also increases teachers’ supervisory and instructional time. The previous contract called for up to 6.25 instructional hours per day; the new one calls for 6.35. It also maintains a 180-day school calendar.
Michigan Education Report was not able to reach James Peresta, president of the Millington teachers union, for comment.
The Lansing Board of Education had also voted to stop collecting union dues on behalf of the Lansing Schools Education Association after a massive "sick-out" by teachers in February. More than 700 teachers were absent on Feb. 5, when the district and teachers union were in contract negotiations. The school board and teachers have since ratified a new contract.