Nearly every aspect of a teacher's job falls under the rules of a union contract. The following is an analysis of the current collective bargaining agreement for teachers and a few other employee groups in the East Lansing School District. The district employs about 220 teachers and enrolls 3,400 students. Of its $34 million operating budget (excluding capital and debt services expenditures), about 70 percent goes towards paying employees covered by this contract. 

Teacher salaries are determined by a single salary schedule that creates automatic raises based solely an employee’s years of experience and graduate degrees. Although teachers are evaluated (once every three years), neither these evaluations nor the performance of their students have any impact on determining teacher pay.

In East Lansing, teachers get a 4 to 6 percent automatic annual pay raise as they progress through the "steps" of the salary schedule. In addition to these "step" increases, the entire salary schedule grew by 1 percent this year. Based on this salary schedule, the vast majority of teachers in East Lansing make a base salary that's between $51,547 and $73,017. The average teacher salary in East Lansing according to the Michigan Department of Education was $62,562 in 2008. 

East Lansing school employees are not required to make any contribution to the cost of the health insurance fringe benefit the district provides. Family premiums cost the district $15,243 per employee, while the average health insurance family premium in Michigan is $11,300. Plus, teachers choosing not to enroll district's medical plan get a monthly $300 "cash-in-lieu" payment.

The contract also covers working conditions, such as the minimum number of hours teachers must be at school. Teachers are required to be at school for 31 hours per week and may not have more than 25 hours and 25 minutes of "pupil contact." Based on their 183-day annual work schedule, this amounts to 1,135 hours per year. The national average for all professions is 1,792 hours over the span of about 250 work days annually. 

School employees are entitled to a lifetime pension when they retire, and are also are given lifetime health benefits. Based on the state-run pension system's multiplier, the lifetime pension for an East Lansing teacher with 30 years experience and an average base salary of $73,017 (the final "step" on the single salary schedule) would be $32,858 annually. East Lansing teachers also get a one-time payment of 30 percent to 50 percent (based on highest degree earned) of their final salary from the district, and can cash in their unused sick days for $55 each. There is no limit to the number of sick days teachers may accumulate. 

The union contract also includes bonus pay for additional duties. Teachers get $29.64 per hour for teaching summer school, $30 per hour for being a "mentor teacher" and $23.29 per hour for helping to develop curriculum. Teachers can also earn extra cash by participating in an extracurricular activity, like coaching, band, drama, yearbook, debate and many others. There are more than 80 different extracurricular positions available to teachers that pay between $1,200 and $8,352 annually. 

A fully detailed analysis can be found here.

Mackinac Center for Public Policy Director of Education Policy Audrey Spalding describes her latest study on right-to-work law violations in public school contracts and suggests why districts and unions are ignoring the law.


Most Popular