LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – The tense year-long battle over teacher contracts in the Waverly School District has finally come to an end.
Contract disputes happen all the time but the debate over contracts in the Waverly School District is one that both teachers and school board officials say they did not expect to last as long as it did.
For more than a year now, teachers in the Waverly School District were working without a contract because they felt they weren’t being valued enough.
For roughly 15 months, they fought for more money and benefits during countless meetings and discussions at the bargaining table and now the fight is over and both sides say they are excited to start a new year.
“I’m feeling very excited and relieved and I feel very hopeful about starting the 17/18 school year,” said Waverly Community Schools Interim Superintendent Kelly Blake.
“We’re glad that it’s done and we’re looking forward to working with our students this year and moving forward,” Teacher/PR Chair for the Waverly Education Association Gini Larson stated.
Teachers and school officials in the Waverly School District are now ready to roll up their sleeves and put this past year behind them after more than a year of working on a contract that makes everyone happy.
“I thought it would take a while because I knew things are changing on the state level so that affects local school districts,” said Blake.
Blake says the process was an exhausting, yet frustrating situation for both teachers and the school board.
“It was difficult for the school board because there were a lot of speakers at meetings and they have an obligation to make sure our budget is a healthy budget,” Blake added.
Larson is the PR Chair of the Waverly Education Association and she’s also a teacher at Winans Elementary School and she says while there are some wins and losses in this contract, she’s content right now.
“We finally have been given the hard cap on our insurance so that’s a big win for us,” said Larson.
Larson says every teacher will also get a one-time bonus under this new contract but there are still some concerns when it comes to other things.
“We’re still concerned that our contract doesn’t allow for new teachers to move up the scale as quickly as they should,” Larson stated.
Now that the contract is final, both Blake and Larson say it’s going to take time to build back relationships but they’re looking forward to a fresh start.
“We need to do some team building but I feel very hopeful,” said Blake.
“I’m still waiting to see if the board and administration are going to be there willing to move forward with us to heal the rift and to do what’s best for Waverly students and the community,” Larson stated.
Now that the contract is ratified, it’ll be locked in until June of 2020.
Just a side note, a contract dispute like this has happened before in the Waverly School District roughly 30 years ago where teachers actually went on strike.