WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) - Teachers in West Bloomfield hit the picket line Monday night outside of a school board meeting at Orchard Lake Middle School.
They're unhappy about requests to accept last year's salary rates, minus another 10 percent reduction in pay to match other district bargaining units that have accepted similar cuts.
Teachers are also frustrated with the increase in class sizes.
"Because we're teachers, we will give the same service we've always given in the classroom," said Kim Pilarski, West Bloomfield Education Association President.
"We're only at a $1.7 million deficit. The school was just awarded $1.2 million in federal stimulus money, so we're only down $500,000. The teachers are willing to give back $2.8 million, so we don't know what the issue is," Pilarski said.
Rick Arnett, the district's Assistant Superintendent of Labor Relations, said with 85 percent of the district's expenses in people's salaries and benefits, the district has no choice but to look to staff for cuts.
"We're in a deficit. Legally, we can not continue to operate as a deficit district, so we have to get our costs under control," Arnett said. "We continue to be at the table and negotiate. We're in the process of working through the fact finding that we started last Thursday."
Teachers and board members left the meeting at 10:45 p.m. with no advancement in negotiations.
They will meet again with a fact finding representative from the state on October 19th.
Copyright (c) 2010 The E.W. Scripps Company
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