Morenci’s new school year begins Tuesday morning and teachers will start the year with a new contract. It’s a contract that takes away pay and makes further cuts to health insurance benefits. The contract could also be characterized as a sign of the times.
Following the “great recession” of 2008, nothing has been the same, and school districts—particularly those in Michigan—have been among those most affected by the economic downtown.
Morenci schools will move into a deficit position in the approaching school year. Our teachers worked without a contract during the last school year and they could have continued without a new contract—much to their advantage.
It was a noble gesture on their part to make a nearly unanimous decision to go forward with a new, concessionary contract and give up pay for the good of the district. The two percent cut won’t come close to solving the district’s financial woes, but it makes a big dent in the problem.
State government has already taken away from teachers and other public employees through changes in health care and retirement. The “taking away” is not a long-term solution.
Eventually the state will have to come around and begin increasing funding for schools. On the one hand, the state raises standards and demands more; on the other hand, many legislators seem more interested in charter schools and don’t give public education the support it needs to do the best job.
We’re pleased that local teachers agreed to help out for now. Coming together at the start of the new year is the best way to begin.