Amendment in Grosse Pointe Teachers Proposed Contract Surfaces

A "letter of understanding" outlines a process for Grosse Pointe Public school teachers to seek special permission to have the $120 substitute pay waived in certain instances if approved by a committee based on medical history.

Grosse Pointe Public School teachers have more to consider before voting Monday on the proposed contract negotiated behind-the-scenes between the Grosse Pointe Education Association and district officials after an amendment has been added addressing catastrophic illness.

The proposed contract continues to link teacher pay to the district's fund equity, which was a ground-breaking detail put into the last contract, under which the teachers are currently operating. 

There are a variety of changes in the proposed contract. Among them is a change in sick time that limits the number of days to be used and requires teachers to pay $120 per day for a substitute for any time beyond the initial 10 days--the change that has drawn the heaviest criticism from teachers. 

Originally, the changes did not address catastrophic illness or any exception to the new system for such things as maternity leave. However an amendment was shared with teachers Monday during a question and answer session and then again throughout the week as union officials have been meeting with members at individual schools throughout the district. 

Entitled as a "Letter of Understanding Between GPPSS and the GPEA," the agreement outlines a process in which teachers could present their case by providing their medical history to a four-person committee to be considered for waiver of the $120 per day substitute pay. 

If a teacher is approved, the cost of the substitute pay will be shared by the Grosse Pointe Public School District and the GPEA. 

The letter is not dated but was reached after the proposed contract was originally presented to the teachers March 6. 

In this agreement, teachers who would be eligible to go before the committee are those who experience an illness that requires them to be hospitalized for five or more days with a minimum 30-day absence from work or is deemed life-threatening unanimously by the committee. 

Teachers are to vote on the proposed contract on Monday and if it is approved, it would take affect March 25. Teachers are expressing concerns about feeling vulnerable in this particular negotiation because while there are significant cuts and changes, if they don't accept it they fear much worse if a contract is not reached and some new state laws take effect. 

Ahmed Ismail March 16, 2013 at 09:34 PM
Gpteach, You are right and are owed an apology. The disparaging post was made by "GPTeach". It must be that the Patch sign up form is case sensitive on the user name. I am sorry for the confusion on my part.
MathFirst March 16, 2013 at 09:39 PM
Michigan students face the "new normal" in the job market. I would much rather pay teachers than ice hockey time for a few students. I guess my problem is really with the lock step rigid approach of the administration. Shouldn't qualified middle school students be able to take high school courses? I am not advocating all of the teachers. A few shouldn't be there. However, I think veteran teachers should be paid more than low level administrators and other support staff. The all stars deserve additional compensation and financial incentives might motivate some others. Does Grosse Pointe really think they can attract master level science and math teachers at these salaries? They have other opportunities. I don't know if things have changed. I couldn't figure out if the Administration didn't bother or if it was just too difficult .to let go of underperforming teachers. The buy-outs were an expensive way of retiring certain teachers. However, we do need to pay our
Suzy March 16, 2013 at 09:45 PM
GPPS teacher's salary is ranked 2nd in the State, while the GPPS budget ranks 57th.
Suzy March 16, 2013 at 09:50 PM
Ahmed, I will ask. It was $80 per day, but since the outsourcing to RESA, it has increased. I believe it is around that $120 mark. At that rate, a sub would make $21,600 a year if they worked full time, ouch.
Gpteach March 16, 2013 at 09:57 PM
Suzy, That is incorrect. For the current pay scales of teachers in each district please check the Macinac center web page. http://www.mackinac.org/depts/epi/agreement.aspx Subs in our district make 84 dollars a day unless they are long term, or specialty subs.
Grosse Pointe March 16, 2013 at 10:36 PM
We should not deal with rankings...ask yourself, what wage do you believe our teacher's deserve? Beginning teacher and teacher of 20 plus years? What should we be paying the professional who teaches your child? Do we want to have people who see teaching as stepping stone or as a calling for life?
jbono March 16, 2013 at 10:58 PM
I have been reading all the comments on the recent articles pertaining to gp teachers and find them very interesting. I do enjoy Ahmed's take, because it seems somewhat objective. It speaks that teachers don't use their real names. It seems teacher's aren't looking for raises. Many of them have moved their children off their insurance because it offers so much less than their spouses now. They have had cuts, contributed more to their insurance and retirement without real complaint. I think teachers are voting out of fear. Fear of worse cuts being tied to our previous fund equity contract or fear of going against the union. I really believe teachers would be in favor of more cuts so long as they weren't tied to the unknown. They, naively, put trust in their last contract and hopefully won't be burned again.
Ahmed Ismail March 17, 2013 at 12:15 AM
Gpteach, One other thing I forgot to ask you (and all the other teachers and staff posting here). I can't remember a contract negotiation (even the last one) where there has been so many of our staff in fear of reprisal for speaking your minds. Many of you are residents and taxpayers; most all are real assets to our system and NONE of you as staff members should be scared of sharing your opinions with other residents, the administration and the School Board. While I disagree with bringing all of this out in the classroom, anywhere else you should feel safe and respected in expressing your opinions. Who is it that is threatening you, either in person or in perception? I think this fear and intimidation is going too far. I have heard from a number of staff members that it is creating low morale in the system. Since you and all of the other staff are operating on an anonymous basis, please let us know who is creating this unjustified fear. Does anyone else feel the same way?
Ahmed Ismail March 17, 2013 at 12:25 AM
"ready to lead" In your post above, you state, "....The intimidation, fear mongering, bullying, and threats from our own members has to stop..." Please let us know where these threats are coming from. This has to stop.
msd something March 17, 2013 at 12:46 AM
ms something I'd like to know where all of the above outrage was when the state legislature passed all of the anti-public education laws last fall! Fear? Of course the teachers are afraid! They are getting dealt a bad deal and the odds are the deal will be even worse if it isn't passed. Why, you say? Because the state said so. Look back at SB1040 and all of the others. After this month ends, the board can impose whatever they want on the teachers. For as long as they want. And Suzy, why don't you check your facts before you post. You haven't stated one truth at all. If you honestly believe your statements to be fact, then post the link where you found the information so the rest of us can fact-check it, or just quit lying. Funny how the state doesn't have enough money for public schools but has plenty for all of the new charter schools that are forming. As a GP taxpayer, it fries me to know that I contribute more to the state than I get back, and then I find out that the state redistributes even less of it back to us in order to hand it over to charters? Disgusting! Where is the outrage about that?
MRSPirateLarz March 17, 2013 at 12:48 AM
ready to lead and jbono, I have done just that. I emailed my son's teacher and she in turn (with my permission) emailed it to the entire school. I can only hope that many other people have emailed or talked to the teachers and staff at our schools. Teachers should not be bullied into voting against the direction they personally want to vote! I hope that the entire community can show support to our wonderful teachers! And I too would like the teachers posting on here to let us know who it is (other teachers, admins, school board, negotiators, etc...) that are pressuring and intimidating you.
Grosse Pointe March 17, 2013 at 02:31 AM
When you consider rankings, remember it is based on an average. A district like GPPS has always been one that teachers aspired to teach in, therefore, once here they stayed. That is why our teachers' average salaries may seem higher than other districts. I am afraid if this new contract passes, we will become a starting point for educators--a place to establish a resume and then they will leave for districts that show their teachers they value them---that is not just tied to salaries. It is actually the other items being discussed that makes the teachers posting here feel devalued. One more comment....Mr. Ismail asked if teachers ever felt afraid to speak out during past negotiation. I would think that we are in a much different place than we were then. The new laws don't seem to protect them against retaliation. I can understand why they are fearful....just like band parent had warned in one of his/her posts.
Gpteach March 17, 2013 at 04:45 PM
Ahmed, As I stated above, I have been a teacher in Grosse Pointe for over 20 years. I have seen many TA s and have been to a number of presentations and Q&A sessions. In all my years I have never seen a negotiating team so personally defensive about a negotiated agreement. The team has threatened its members with dire consequences if we choose to vote no. They have told us repeatedly that this agreement in the best one we will ever get. Information is disseminated via school email that is pro TA but teachers are not allowed to ask questions about language on school email. We are told that Administrators are watching are emails and we will be disciplined . How is it acceptable for one party and not another? Teachers who have asked to speak at board meetings were told that to do so would anger the BOE and results in further cuts. These are just a couple of examples of the culture of fear that has been created in our schools.
Ahmed Ismail March 17, 2013 at 06:22 PM
Gpteach, Your post saddens me. I never thought that the intelligent teachers we have would roll over and be sold on the fact that the Board and administration will go after teachers personally for expressing their opinions. As far as teachers being told to not go to Board meetings and "anger" the Board or administration with their comments, if the teachers are buying that, they should be embarrassed for themselves. The Board can't arbitrarily institute cuts without the contract being amended. You have months before the contract is up to negotiate a contract that is "less worse" for everyone. I am a little confused as to what the "new" laws are that will make it so easy for the admin or Board to single out a teacher and go after them. Can you post a link to the one(s) everyone keeps referencing? Thank you. I can't help but go back to the mindset that this rush to a contract is all being fueled by a fear of a mass exodus from the union under the Right to Work law. I could be wrong, but when you count everything else you and the teachers that I stay in touch with tell me into the equation, everything keeps leading me back to that conclusion. I know that the writings on this post are probably an exercise in futility and that the contract will pass tomorrow. How's it is all coming about using "fear tactics" is a terrible shame for all parties concerned. I think it will irreparably harm the morale of the entire staff in our school system.
Gpteach March 17, 2013 at 06:50 PM
Ahmed, Thanks for your continued support. Honestly, the entire situation saddens me as well. The schools in our community are excellent and the staff prides itself on the tradition of excellence . I am not certain why so many intelligent and educated teachers are allowing themselves to be manipulated in this way. Although I am not certain if others are referencing this clause, the new TA empowers administrators to impact teachers pay. This is done via the evaluation process. I think many teachers worry that speaking out may impact future evaluations. Morale, from my perspective is quite low at this point. Many teachers feel that our hard work and dedication is no longer valued. I am not certain what is fueling the rush to sign this TA. As you have stated, there is ample time to renegotiate .
Anne McCune March 17, 2013 at 09:31 PM
Copied out of the Dec. 17th 2007 board minutes. President Walsh then spoke to a request for information made by a member of the Board which involved specific information on members of the teaching staff (including tenure status). He noted that this was not at Board request, but was an individual Board member’s request. Mr. Walsh said he wanted to dispel any concern that the Board does not want to hear teachers’ opinions. Trustee Walsh asked that requests from individual Board members, not made at Board meetings, be sent to the Superintendent of Schools with a courtesy copy to the President of the Board in the future. Trustee Kosinski noted that the revised Board bylaws this evening spoke to Mr. Walsh’s concern regarding board member information requests. She added that the new bylaws state, “... that any individual Board members requesting information shall be directed to the Superintendent or the Board President only, and that all such information shall be provided to all Board members.” Trustee Minturn said that he first heard of Mr. Ismail’s request over the weekend and noted that it was not the action or the request of the school board. He read aloud from a few teacher emails that he had received, adding that the Board and administration are fortunate to have teachers who care enough to speak up and express their concerns.
Ahmed Ismail March 17, 2013 at 11:07 PM
Ms. McCune, With regards to your excerpt from what appear to be Board meeting minutes from 2007, you should also provide the readers of this thread with the context of the minutes, the fact that I wasn't at the meeting when they were recorded to correct the statements made by other Board members at the time and the prior and subsequent meeting minutes that led to the in absentia comments. I frankly am having trouble with understanding what these meeting minutes from almost six years ago have to do with my opinion that the negotiations on the contract being voted on tomorrow are being rushed unnecessarily to the detriment of all involved.
Ahmed Ismail March 17, 2013 at 11:14 PM
MathFirst, In response to your question, "....Shouldn't qualified middle school students be able to take high school courses?...". it may not be a well known accommodation that the school system does, but my son did take Math at GP North while attending Parcells. It was set up as a first period class, and we would drop our son off at GP North and car pool him back to Parcells after first hour.
Anne McCune March 18, 2013 at 12:23 AM
Fair enough here is the link to the follow up meeting where your follow up comments are recorded. I don't see where you deny asking for personal teacher information Item X http://www.gpschools.org/minutes/2008/1-14.pdf Teachers need to be informed that you yourself intimidated teachers who signed a letter that disagreed with your opinion. I find some of your comments and sadness to smack of hypocrisy
Concerned citizen March 18, 2013 at 12:32 AM
Suzy, subs do not make anywhere NEAR $120 a day. Trust me.
Ahmed Ismail March 18, 2013 at 01:14 AM
Ms. McCune, I am not going to spend my time and space on this comment thread chatting about my Board activities and how they were or weren't documented properly and the conversations I had with the administration on my information requests in 2007. I hope that everyone on this thread keeps the post relative to this thread and that Sara audits them accordingly. I also hope everyone respects each other's opinions. I don't understand why my feeling that all concerned would benefit from stepping back and taking a bit of time negotiating this contract is so threatening to some. I don't think it is a radical position, just one that I feel is a bit more cautious than some seem to believe. As some on this thread have stated before, it seems unlikely that the vote tomorrow will fail. If it does pass, I hope it at least it passes for the right reasons.
Laura Mack Zajac March 18, 2013 at 02:26 AM
I am a parent with two children in the district, who have benefitted greatly by the instruction of wonderful teachers. In reading the details of the proposed TA, the idea that teacher would be required to pay reimbursement for subs is with no clear process is disturbing. As a working mom, and one that received her 8-12 weeks of maternity leave, the idea that we would be penalizing pregnancy is a return to the dark ages. In addition, the implied undertone of repercussions for those that might speak out is plain wrong. Teachers must know they have the support of the community. Vote NO and renegotiate.
Diane Smith March 18, 2013 at 02:07 PM
Quote from Steve Cook, MEA President, in most current issue (Feb 2013) of the MEA Voice: "That’s why between now and March 26, our goal is to settle, extend or modify contracts with school districts so that locals are protected from the law’s negative impacts. So long as agreements are in place by then that include the agency shop clause, they are legal and remain in effect for the length of the agreement." Ram it through and "ram" our teachers. Thanks a lot.
Grosse Pointe Woods March 18, 2013 at 02:52 PM
Look out for the people really teaching our kids.
Mark March 18, 2013 at 04:43 PM
Let's get down to what is really important here....did anyone find out if Ryan Gosling was really at Starbucks in the Village?
GPW Parent March 18, 2013 at 05:38 PM
Diane--thank you for posting this quote. I guess there's no question anymore as to why this contract is being rushed through.
Chris K March 18, 2013 at 05:47 PM
Excellent work, Diane. Here is the link to the source: http://mea.org/Voice-Magazine/2013feb/2013February-Voice.pdf Look to page 9. Everyone should read the entire letter along with some of the other articles.
GPW Parent March 18, 2013 at 06:02 PM
It seems Anne's comments here are to discredit one of the only posters who is able to stand back and look at the situation objectively and use his real name in the process even though it could harm his business. I have a unique perspective on the insinuations being made in Anne's posts, as I was one of the teachers whose contact information was provided to Mr. Ismail back in 2007. Mr. Ismail used the information to contact me and spent over an hour on the phone with me asking to understand why I felt the IB program was not good for Grosse Pointe and explaining the reason he thought it would be a good thing for Grosse Pointe North. He was incredibly polite and since that time has kept in contact in contact with me, asking how things are going at South and how my kids are doing in college. In all my years in our schools, I have never had a single Board member call me and ask for my opinion and sincerely try to understand my viewpoint. I was impressed, as were the other teachers at South that he took the time to contact. Ever since receiving his call, I have felt that my signing that letter opposing the IB Program was a rush to judgment out of fear of the unknown on my part. In a lot of ways, it was similar to what is happening right now with rushing through this contract.
Bill March 19, 2013 at 01:51 AM
Why is there so many comments on what the teachers and their union agree to? You are only as good as the people bargaining for you, if you don't like the deal move on, there are others that will take the deal.
christopher March 19, 2013 at 09:54 AM
you seem a little giddy there Mark ?


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