Muskegon teachers confront admin pay raises at heated board meeting

Posted at 10:23 PM, Nov 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-21 22:23:26-05

MUSKEGON, Mich. -- With standing room only at the Muskegon Public Schools board meeting Tuesday night, teachers said administrators are getting substantial raises, some upwards of $15,000, while teacher salaries have been frozen the past few years.

It's something both sides agree needs to change.

"Our wages have been frozen for six years, roughly from 2008 to 2014," said Kathy Kuharevicz, a kindergarten teacher at Lakeside Elementary. "We have received a zero percent, half percent, half percent retroactive, one percent, somewhere in there."

Teacher after teacher stood up to voice their concerns, prompting a response from the board president.

"I did the school board thing for over 10 years without a dime; this is a volunteer position," said School Board President Louis Churchwell. "I do it without a dime. Some of you all get scratch, and yet still you sit back and complain."

Churchwell's comments only infuriated the audience more.

"If you really want to retain people in Muskegon Public Schools, you have to put your money where your mouth is," said Kuharevicz.

Superintendent Justin Jennings said he heard the teacher's concerns and said the raises for administration were crucial for the district.

“They made some great points, and there’s some things that we know that we have to work on and we will work on," Jennings said. "But there’s also some things that -- some historical things -- we need to change as well.”

Despite what teachers called a tough work environment, they say they continue to do their jobs for their students. "We are here because of the kids," Kuharevicz said. "But I really think the administration is here for the money and the data."

Jennings told FOX 17 he was pleased with the meeting Tuesday night and said the teachers made some great points.  He agreed there are some things they have to work on as a district.

One teacher said negotiations are coming up soon and hopefully some of their concerns will be addressed.