2006-10-07 / News

Teachers Contract Talks To Continue

By Ryan Schlehuber

A draft teachers contract submitted by the teachers is being reviewed by the Mackinac Island Board of Education, prior to a meeting with the teachers' bargaining unit, Mackinac Island Education Association.

At a regular school board meeting Thursday, September 21, Paul Wandrie, the board's negotiations committee chairman, said each member of the committee had received a copy of the draft from school attorneys and would review it with Superintendent Roger Schrock before meeting with the union, represented by three Island teachers, Susan Bennett, Laura Eiseler, and Karen Allen.

The teachers have been working under the terms of its last contract, which expired in June.

One possible point of discussion will be time off for bereavement for immediate family members. The topic came up when it was noted at the meeting that a teacher had taken four days off to attend a funeral of a person not related to the teacher.

Pete Everson, superintendent of the Eastern Upper Peninsula Intermediate School District (ISD), and Michael Porter, ISD director of technology, attended the meeting to promote ISD programs. Mr. Everson intends to visit each school in the ISD this year, with Mackinac Island being the first.

He discussed Proposal 5, which will be on the November election ballot. If passed, he said, it will provide annual funding increases equal to inflation for public schools, community colleges, and four-year public colleges. Supporters of the proposal say it would reduce the gap between the state's lowestspending and highest-spending districts, cap retirement costs for K-12 districts, and fund school districts with declining enrollment based on the student enrollment average of the three prior fiscal years. Those against it say that, because it mandates the spending, it ties the hands of the legislature in dealing with budgets, especially in economic slumps, and could force the reduction or curtailment of other state programs.

Voters could go either way on the proposal, said Mr. Everson, being that it is the only financial issue on the ballot this year. He told the board that schools in Grand Rapids and Traverse City have already passed resolutions to vote against it, though many labor groups are in favor of it.

Mr. Everson argues that the proposal does not go far enough to cover inequities in the state's educational system and it does not address health care costs.

Mr. Porter explained the ISD's involvement in educational interactive technology and how uses like the Internet have become critical to schools and education.

He said the ISD hopes to promote more of its interactive television (ITV) program. Many smaller schools have implemented ITV classrooms since the program was introduced to the Eastern Upper Peninsula in 1993, he said, but growth and interest appear to have leveled off.

ITV delivers high school courses to schools that would not otherwise be able to afford them, such as Japanese or Spanish lan- guage classes or advanced mathematics. The courses are taught by teachers at schools that have the courses.

"We haven't pitched hard enough the potential of ITV," said Mr. Everson.

This year, Mackinac Island students receive Spanish, French, and Calculus I through the ITV program.

The ISD is interested in creating more adult education classes and to offer more college credit courses for high school students to get a head start on their college career.

The board will soon discuss guidelines for allowing nonschool groups and individuals to use the school facilities in reaction to the request made by Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau to allow reenactors for the Festival of Falling Leaves Moon to use the school bathrooms over the September 22-24 weekend. Board members agreed that more notice is needed and better standards are needed, such as having a school staff member on the premises at all times when a group is using the facilities.

A school representative was at the school while the reenactors were allowed to use the facilities a couple hours each day, however, Dr. Schrock said the request came at the last minute.

Allowing residents to use the gymnasium for pick-up games will also be included in that discussion, said school secretary Barb Fisher.

A new school sign to be displayed at the elementary end of the building, near the boardwalk, was discussed at the meeting. Trustee Leanne Brodeur, representing the school's building and

grounds committee, has asked designer Jenny Silvernale, who is a summer resident on the Island, to design a sign which is estimated to cost $1,600.

Dr. Schrock reminded Ms. Brodeur that any proposed cost to the school exceeding $1,500 needs to go through the bid process. Ms. Brodeur said she will negotiate with Mrs. Silvernale on the overall cost.

The board tabled Dr. Schrock's request to allow him to sign checks that do not exceed $1,500 instead of $500. Asecond signature by a board member is required on all school checks that exceed $500.

Dr. Schrock said that many checks he signs are for "routine bills" that, according to school policy, require a second signature, which he believes is unnecessary.

Special Education assistant Julie Fisher will fill in for kindergarten teacher Vicki Urman for a few weeks as Mrs. Urman will be on medical leave, recovering from surgery.

New social studies teacher Seth Baker was on leave for a week to attend to his fiancé downstate, as her mother died recently.

Return to top

Click here for digital edition
2006-10-07 digital edition