HOWELL, Mich. - The bargaining team of the Howell Education Association turned down an offer from the district to conduct contract negotiations in public, saying it would not be productive, according to the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus.

In a notice to Howell Public Schools officials and to media, the team said that public bargaining would hamper "creative problem solving," the Press & Argus reported. Interim Superintendent Lynn Parish had offered public bargaining after HEA President Jay McDowell told the Press & Argus recently that taxpayers "deserve some transparency" about the bargaining process.

The teachers union is asking for a 1.5 percent salary increase, which would cost about $475,000, the Press & Argus reported. Thirty percent of the increase would be dedicated to a student scholarship fund. The district is seeking a 2 percent salary "giveback" to generate $700,000 in savings, plus a freeze on teacher salary step increases and insurance rates.

Livingston Daily Press & Argus, "News Briefs: Teachers won't go public with remainder of talks," Oct. 15, 2009

Michigan Education Report, "Teacher Salaries Need a Closer Look for Michigan to Balance the Budget," Oct. 2, 2009