Traverse City Area Public Schools can afford to increase teacher pay, but not to the level the union was hoping for. That’s according to a state fact finder who was called in this winter after negotiations stalled.
The teachers’ union wants a four percent pay raise, both for the current school year, and again for next school year. It’s a far cry from what the district proposed: no increase either year.
In a report released Wednesday by TCAPS officials, the state fact finder says, given state funding projections and a recent failed millage, the union’s proposal would reduce the district’s bank balance to a “dangerously low level.” But he also says the district can afford a one year, two percent bump in pay next school year. That’s in addition to so-called “step” increases, based on education and years of service.
TCAPS Human Resources Executive Director Chris Davis says the district would be willing to agree to those terms. She says that’s similar to contracts they’ve agreed to with other TCAPS workers.
“The board and administration are hopeful the fact-finder’s report will now lead to a settlement that’s fair, equitable and fiscally responsible,” she says.
A union spokesman says he hasn’t had time to review the report, but he says teachers are not happy with progress on negotiations. The union has not had a contract all year. Jeff Leonhardt says teachers believe the district is trying to “wait out negotiations until teachers cave.”
The report is only a recommendation, and is not binding on the district or the union.