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Flint teachers agree to layoffs and pay freeze

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

The Flint teachers union has agreed to layoffs and a seven year wage freeze to avoid a deep pay cut. 

The Flint Board of Education approved a plan last night that includes cutting around 70 jobs through layoffs and consolidation.  

Larry Watkins is the interim school superintendent.  He hopes no more cuts will be needed. 

“In my opinion, there’s no place else to cut,” Watkins said after the Board of Education meeting. 

The school district had asked the unions for a 15% wage and benefit cut. But the unions balked at that. To maintain their pay package, the United Teachers of Flint voted two to one Tuesday to accept other concessions.

In addition to the job cuts and wage freeze, the memorandum of understanding approved last night included cuts to teachers' preparation time at the high school level, classroom splits at the elementary level as well as reduction of middle and high school staff.

Bruce Jordan is with the teachers union. He’s also one of the 31 teachers getting pink slipped. 

“I think the teachers and the administrators all see the end game,” says Jordan. “We need to right size the district.”

Flint’s student population has been declining for years. This fall’s student count numbers were down and forced administrators to tweak the district’s deficit elimination plan.  

The Flint school district is $21.9 million dollars in the red.  

The union concessions are needed to make the district’s latest deficit elimination plan work. Watkins says the concessions will also help close a budget deficit this year.  

The Flint school district’s immediate financial woes are not over. 

The Board of Education last night voted to ask the state for an advance on the district’s state aid payment.   Without it, Superintendent Watkins says the district won’t be able to make its January payroll.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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