Morenci teachers agree to contract

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Morenci’s teachers voted to help take a chunk out of the expected deficit by accepting a two percent pay cut for the school year starting next week.

Teachers voted nearly unanimously to accept the new one-year contract in a vote Monday morning. The Morenci Board of Education followed with a 7-0 vote of approval at a special meeting Monday night.

Teachers worked without a contract last year and negotiations had stalled over the summer. That changed last week when the two sides reached a tentative agreement.

“We sat down last week and made it work,” said board president Scott Merillat.

The board was initially seeking a six percent cut, Merillat said, and district superintendent Dr. Michael Osborne announced over the summer that he would take a six percent pay reduction.

Both sides agreed that a two percent cut now was better than continuing to wrangle over a larger amount, Merillat said.

“Two percent is not enough to get us out of deficit,” he said, “but it’s a significant step in the right direction. I’m happy with two percent. It’s for the long-term good of the district.”

The teachers’ union issued a statement about the contract, noting that members continued to give up salary and health insurance benefits.

“The Morenci Education Association reached a tentative agreement for a one year contract with the school district on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012. The tentative agreement was brought to the Education Association membership on Monday, Aug. 27, at 8:30 am. The membership voted to ratify the tentative agreement.

“The contract is a full concessionary contract settlement on the part of the teachers. The Morenci teaching staff took a two percent salary reduction, reductions in stipends, and major concessions on health insurance. This concession will be a hardship on the teachers, however, the staff is willing to sacrifice to preserve student services for all students at Morenci.

“The Association would like to start the school year in collaboration with the district and the community, and their concessions are their sign of moving toward more success for all in Morenci.”

Dr. Osborne agrees. Had the teachers not accepted the new contract, they would have been paid at the old schedule which would have been to their benefit personally. Instead they chose to help the district during tough financial times.

“School employees have been hit pretty hard,” he said.

State government made cuts to health insurance and retirement benefits while negotiations were underway in recent months.

He said projections are calling for a deficit of about $118,000 following the new contract, but so much hinges on enrollment. Once the district falls into a projected deficit later this year, it will have three years to get back into the black.

Osborne said the administration will have to begin looking at further cuts in the spring, but for now both sides are pleased to move forward.

“It was good to see the teachers step up and say, ‘We’ll do our part,’” Merillat said.

  • Girls.on.ride
    NADIYA YORK and Aniston Valentine take a spin on the Casino, one of the rides offered at Wakefield Park during Morenci’s Town and Country Festival. This year’s festival remained dry but with plenty of heat during the three-day run. Additional photographs are inside this week’s Observer.
  • Front.softball
    Angela Davis (2) and teammate Allison VanBrandt break into a jig after Morenci's softball team won its third consecutive regional title.
  • Front.art.park
    ART PARK—A design created by Poggemeyer Design Group shows a “pocket art park” in the green space south of the State Line Observer building. The proposal includes a 12-foot sculpture based on a design created by Morenci sixth grade student Klara Wesley through a school and library collaboration. A wooden band shell is located at the back of the lot. The Observer wall would be covered with a synthetic stucco material. City council members are considering ways to fund the estimated $125,000 project and perhaps tackling construction one step at a time.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.soccer.balls
    BEVY OF BALLS—Stair District Library Summer Reading Program VolunTeens, including Libby Rorick, back left and Ty Kruse, back right, threw a dozen inflatable soccer balls into the crowd during a reading of “Sergio Saves the Game.” The sports-themed program continues on Wednesdays through July 27.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016