By Andrew Cluley- AAPS Communications Specialist
The Board of Education has set the table for the 2016-17 school year by approving contract agreements with teachers, several other bargaining units, and the proposed budget. In addition to passing these measures, the 2016-17 school year calendar was announced at last night’s board meeting. Classes begin Tuesday, September 6 and the school year wraps up Friday, June 16, 2017.
School Board Vice President Christine Stead says it’s pretty momentous for the entire district to have agreements with the Ann Arbor Education Association for teachers, office professionals, and para-educators. Pay and benefit packages for each employee group are increased 2 to 2.25 percent. Each employee group negotiated how they would best distribute this amount across components of pay and benefits within their respective group.
Stead says a lot of people played a role in the success of these agreements. “This kind of agreement isn’t possible without really every single person in our community, and in Ann Arbor we’ve been very fortunate to have a community that recognizes the value of education,” Stead says. “In May we approved a millage, again in Ann Arbor and really across the county, because education is so important to us. It gives us the unique opportunity to be able to have increases at a time when many across our state are not able to do that.”
Superintendent Jeanice Swift thanks the bargaining teams, “I am grateful to all the employee group leaders, Deputy Superintendent Comsa, and the members of the negotiating teams who invested their time during this negotiation process to achieve this positive outcome.” Swift adds contract agreements with remaining bargaining units should be considered by the school board at their next regular meeting on June 29.
In addition to these labor agreements, the board of education passed the proposed 2016-17 budget and the final amendment to the 2015-16 budget. The $214.7 million dollar general fund budget for next school year is based on a projected $60 increase in per pupil funding from the state, 100 additional students, and the retirement of 35 teachers. It’s expected to add over $300-thousand to the district’s fund balance, and pay for 30 additional full-time teaching positions. The additional teachers would help maintain class sizes, and support district-wide enhancements such as Project Lead the Way, International Baccalaureate, Young Fives, and additional world language offerings.
The budget also includes about $450-thousand to cover the additional costs for hourly workers spending an additional five days on the job to meet the state’s requirement for increased instructional days. These days are included in the 2016-17 school calendar. Changes in the calendar include school being in session on Good Friday, and mid-winter break being shortened from an entire week to a long weekend. Winter break extends from Friday Dec 23, 2016 through January 6, 2017, and no school for Election days, November 8, 2016 and May 2, 2017.