The West Bloomfield Board of Education at a special meeting on Thursday, March 31 implemented a 10-percent salary cut for the district’s teachers by a 5-2 vote.
Last Thursday’s action was the tipping point in what has been a long struggle between the district and the West Bloomfield Education Association (WBEA) to come to an agreement on a new contract.
The district’s teachers are currently working without a contract after their previous contract expired on Aug. 31, 2010.
Rick Arnett, the district’s Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources and Labor Relations, said that without the pay cut implementation, the district would be facing a $2.9 million deficit.
He added that the cut for teachers will be 6.9 percent this year and 3.1 percent for the next school year, bringing the total cut to 10 percent. Step payments were also frozen by the board.
Cyndi Austin, Michigan Education Association Liaison for West Bloomfield Schools said that the union has met with an attorney and may be pursuing a legal route.
“The board acted on cutting pay prior to the vote and the payroll was done prior to the vote,” Austin said.
In a statement, Superintendent Dr. JoAnn Andrees said that 89 percent of the district’s budget is comprised of wages and benefits and that the four of the district’s five bargaining units have agreed to wage concessions
Those concessions amount to 10 percent, according to Pam Zajac, District Public Relations and Marketing Coordinator.
Zajac added that the district has cut spending by $16 million over the past five years.
Andrees also said in her statement that the district held over 20 meetings with the WBEA over 19 months.
The district had the Michigan Employment Relations Commission put together a fact-finding report after two hearing dates were held in October.
The report was released in January and recommended an immediate across-the-board, 10-percent reduction in the salary schedule, which had been originally proposed by the district administration.
The district will be holding a strategic visioning/budget prioritization meeting on Wednesday, April 13 at West Bloomfield High School.