GRPS Offers Pay Increases in Contract Proposal

Posted at 6:44 PM, Mar 12, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-12 19:28:13-04

The Grand Rapids school district says it has the lowest paid teachers in Kent County.

In a new contract proposal, the district looks to give pay raises of 2 to 4.3 percent.

However, Paul Helder with the Grand Rapids Education Association said, “It’s a little disingenuous to sit there and say somehow this is a 2 to 4 percent increase. It’s not. It’s a 2 to 4 percent increase before you take away more than that, based on new insurance premiums.”

Grand Rapids Public Schools spokesman said the district faces a lot of unknowns, as it presents its latest contract proposal.

“State funding has been cut for three years in a row. We now have federal sequestration. We’ve seen enrollment decline for more than 10 years,” John Helmholdt, the district spokesman said.

At a school board meeting last week, teachers demanded a new and better contract.

In the district’s proposal, there would be no step increases in 2012-2013 and 2013-2014.

If the union agrees to the proposal by the end of this month, right-to-work laws would be avoided during the three year contract.

The GREA thinks that class size and total compensation, such as benefits, are issues not being properly addressed in the district’s proposed contract.

“We wouldn’t put a proposal out if we didn’t believe that it was fair and appropriate and one that takes into account the current financial situation of the district,” Helmholdt said.

The letter sent to teachers and specifcs of the new proposed contract can be found here.