By Meg Peters
Lake Orion Community Schools still must realize $850,000 in wage concessions to be able to match the 2016-17 budget, which was adopted at the board meeting June 22.
One clause within the Master Agreement between Lake Orion Community Schools and the Lake Orion Education Association may provide for this possibility.
The three-year contract, enacted from July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2017, states that there is a wage reopener for the 2016-17 school year, which would allow both parties to negotiate any wage concessions, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Rick Arnett said.
Administrators are in the process of negotiating with the Lake Orion Education Association (LOEA) to determine if they will reach the targeted savings.
At this point teachers have not been told what their positions will be for the 2016-17 school year, or if they will be employed at Lake Orion.
“If we haven’t come to any kind of agreement by July 15 then we’re going to have to look at making some additional cuts to personnel in order to ensure we’re going to be able to match the budget,” Arnett said. “So that’s why we can’t give placements at this time because we aren’t sure what our staffing level is going to be.”
Teachers were notified last week in an email their placements were being held until the negotiation process, including possible step freezes, was complete.
The cost for a step increment for the LOEA is $890,000.
No other language from the contract will be discussed, apart from wages, through the economic reopener.
“It’s just a safety net. A three-year contract is pretty difficult. In public schools, with the uncertainty with economics and enrollment, an economic reopener is pretty standard,” Arnett said.
Teachers previously had already agreed to work one unpaid day in the 2015-16 year.
The district is also looking at its programming needs. If additional programming must be cut, all decisions must be made by July 15 in order to give teachers their placements shortly thereafter, or to make further cuts.
Arnett said typically the district does not hand out teacher placements until the summer, and if students have already received their schedules, they are liable to change.
LOEA President Jeff Faber said an agreement would be reached.
“The beleaguered Lake Orion teaching staff will once again make the necessary personal sacrifices to help maintain this great school district with continued hopes for a brighter future,” he said. “The hard questions remain for Rep. Jacobsen, Sen. Marleau, and the rest of the MI legislature who continue to put public school districts in “cut mode” as they play a shell game with school financing.”
By Meg Peters