The average teacher salary in Harbor Beach Community Schools was $58,229 in 2009, second highest in Huron County. Teachers contribute nothing to the cost of their health insurance premiums, which cost the district $19,761 per teacher for a family plan. These are among the highlights in the current collective bargaining agreement negotiated between the district and the local arm of the Michigan Education Association union.

About 63 percent of the district's $5 million operating budget goes towards paying employees covered by this contract, which covers teachers and a few other employee groups. Harbor Beach enrolls about 580 students and employs approximately 30 teachers. The district spent $10,327 per pupil in 2009, an increase of about 4 percent from the previous school year.

The base salary for most Harbor Beach teachers is between $41,059 and $60,539. Teachers are paid much like assembly line workers: how much an individual actually gets is determined by a single salary schedule that grants automatic pay raises based only on years on the job plus additional pedagogy credentials. Harbor Beach teachers receive two percent "step" increases for their first 10 years in the district, and an additional "across-the-board" 1.5 percent pay bump.

Teachers are granted "tenure" after four years on the job, and once tenured are evaluated once every three years, but neither these evaluations nor the performance of their students affect how much they are paid. After 12 years of teaching in the district, employees get annually longevity payments of $602 to $2,481. Additionally, teachers who've accumulated the maximum number of unused sick days can cash in their annual allotment of unused sick days for $55 a piece.

The district provides medical insurance from the Michigan Education Special Services Association, an arm of the Michigan Education Association, the state's largest teachers union. The district pays $16,734 per year for each teacher on a family plan, with teachers contributing nothing towards this cost. The state average for a family premium is $13,160, and employees average paying 21 percent, or $2,800 of this amount. The Harbor Beach plan features a $100 in-network deductible, co-pays of $5/$10/$25 for office visits, urgent care and the emergency room and a $10/$20 RX plan. The district also pays for dental, vision, life and long-term disability, again with no cost to employees. This insurance costs an additional $2,220 annually for a family plan.

School employees receive a lifetime pension when they retire, and also expect to get lifetime post-retirement health benefits. Based on the state-run retirement system's formula, the starting pension for a Harbor Beach teacher with 30 years experience and an average base salary of $60,539 (the final "step" on the salary schedule) would be $27,243. For most retirees, this amount increases by 3 percent every year. An employee may begin collecting a pension upon reaching age of 55, or younger if he or she has 30 years of employment in public schools.

The union contract includes extra bonus pay for additional duties. Teachers can get a 20 percent of the substitute per diem for subbing during their preparation period and $45 per hour for any instructional assignments outside of the normal contractual work day. Mentor teachers get $900 per year and "annual advisors" get a $3,357 stipend.

The district also pays out stipends for coaching and participating in other extracurricular activities, such as band, drama, student clubs and many others. Aside from the 27 different athletic-related positions that pay between $1,720 and $4,486 annually, there are about 30 different extracurricular positions that pay between $209 and $3,566 each year.

All teachers are allotted 10 sick days per year, and can accumulate 100 of them. The district allows for 2-3 personal days and 7 bereavement days as well. Teachers may take unpaid leaves for child care, continued study, personal illness and others. Upon returning from leave, teachers are guaranteed the opportunity to return to the same or an equivalent teaching position. 

Working hours and conditions are also covered in the contract. It defines the "work year" as 185 days. Teachers are contractually obligated to be at school for 7 hours and 20 minutes per day, which works out to a total work year of 1,357 hours. The national average for all occupations is 1,792.

A fully detailed analysis can be found here.

Meet James Hohman, Assistant Director of Fiscal Policy at the Mackinac Center. James discusses his latest project, an analysis of Proposal 1, the proposal on personal property tax reform that will appear on the August 5th ballot. Read more about Proposal 1 here: http://www.mackinac.org/20246


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