Contract talks may hold up $25 million grant

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids Public Schools is in line to receive $25 million in federal grants to improve its lowest-performing schools, but teacher contract negotiations may stand in the way, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

This week the school board passed a resolution of support for its negotiating team as a way of signaling the Michigan Department of Education that it is "working very diligently" to come up with a reform plan by a Nov. 16 deadline, board President Senita Lenear said, according to The Press.

The district needs teachers to agree to such measures as performance pay, teacher evaluations and additional work hours, The Press reported. Grand Rapids Education Association President Paul Helder said that any reform plan also should address good attendance and small class sizes, according to The Press. The union and district have been in contract negotiations since May.

The Grand Rapids Press, "Teachers union negotiations could jeopardize $25 million in grants for Grand Rapids Public Schools," Nov. 2, 2010

The Grand Rapids Press, "Grand Rapids school board hopes to land $25 million in grants even without teacher contract in place by Nov. 16," Nov. 9, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "New Research Suggests 'Reforming' Rather than Closing Failing Schools a Forlorn Hope," March 30, 2010