Detroit Teachers See Cuts Under New Detroit Public Schools Contract

07/03/2012 12:10 pm ET

Union officials have revealed new details on the upcoming contract issued to Detroit Public Schools teachers by Roy Roberts, the district's emergency manager.

The Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT) told the Detroit Free Press that the new working arrangement will keep pay levels the same, while adjusting benefits and cutting the amount of time teachers have to prepare for lessons.

The Free Press reports that under the new deal employee co-pay on prescriptions will be upped from $5 to $10 for generic brands, "assault pay" compensation paid to them while healing from an on-the-job injury will be scrapped and the prep time given to elementary school teachers will be shortened from one period a day to two periods a week.

Public Act 4, the Michigan state law which establishes emergency managers, gives Roberts the authority to unilaterally impose a contract on the district's teachers. The union's previously negotiated collective bargaining agreement expired on July 1.

In an interview with FOX 2, Keith Johnson, president of the DFT, called the new deal a "tyrannical edict" and criticized the manner in which Roberts issued the document.

"Face to face, man to man, in which he told me repeatedly he had absolutely no interest in obviating our collective bargaining agreement, and that is exactly what he has done," he told the television station.

Neither DPS nor the teachers union have released the full contract to the public. The union says it is weighing options for a response to the new deal. Johnson has hinted that teachers may strike. In a statement on the DFT's website, he said that his organization would release an official statement on the matter after consulting with their legal counsel.

In a July 1 statement Roberts said the contract "produces the savings necessary for the district to ultimately return to financial solvency and remove the debt that erodes financial resources reaching the classroom."

“Detroit has great teachers and dedicated educators and I have met and witnessed the work of a number of them over the past 14 months,” Roberts added. “Having this contract in place provides the stability they need and deserve to continue to meet the many challenges they face on a daily basis.”

The 2012-2013 school year promises to be a year of dramatic change for the DPS. 15 schools are leaving to join the state's new Educational Achievement Authority district and departing students will be taking their per-pupil state funding with them into the new school system. Overall DPS' budget is projected to be 25 percent lower than the previous school year.

The district's deficit is projected to drop from $83 million to around $72 million for coming school year, due to a surplus from the last year, the Free Press reports.

DPS estimates there will be nearly 50,000 students enrolled in the district for the 2012-2013. The district has lost about 100,000 students in the last ten years.

Flickr photo by Wootang01.

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