Teaching in the Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) is finally paying off for teachers, with Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti announcing the restoration of teacher pay after the Financial Review Committee (FRC) approved a Letter of Agreement made with DPSCD, the Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT) and the American Federation of Teachers Local Unit 231 (AFT).
The agreement provides a one-time bonus of $1,373.60 for the 2018-2019 school year to more than 2,000 top-step teachers, DPSCD’s crediting of internal and external teaching service to current and future teachers, and the repayment of the Termination Incentive Plan (TIP) funds.
The recommendation was approved by the DPSCD Board and the FRC, following their approval of DPCSD’s 2018-2019 budget of $732 million. Previously, DPSCD was restricted to recognizing two years of experience, which limited its ability to recruit teachers. Now, DPSCD can offer competitive salaries and recognize outside experience, enabling DPSCD to be a competing option for certified teachers who are currently considering suburban school districts.
“This is unquestionably one of the longest steps we have taken toward rebuilding the DPSCD,” said Vitti. “It simultaneously moves us closer to making teachers whole after Emergency Management while also having a sustainable impact on our children by limiting vacancies and reducing class size.”
“Our students are too talented to continue to go year after year without a solid teacher from preschool all the way to 12thgrade. This is a significant step of solving that problem, from a strategic point of view.”
In July of 2017, the DFT ratified a new contract agreement with the DPSCD benefiting approximately 3,900 teachers and other school-related personnel. Since its adoption, the DPSCD saw a decrease in teacher vacancies – which were approximately 275 last year and are currently at 190 – while adding 250 additional classrooms with the return of the Education Achievement Authority schools.
“As a school board and leadership team, we understand to reach our goals and realize our vision, we need to act boldly and strategically,” said Iris Taylor, DPSCD board president. “Dr. Vitti has problem-solved and developed trust with our teachers and DFT to strategically move our budget to address the board’s priorities. We are now positioned to be successful by attracting and retaining employees needed to do this urban public education reform work.”
DPSCD teachers in attendance at Amelia Earhart Elementary-Middle School in Southwest Detroit clapped their hands in rejoice after hearing the news. Some of the main stumbling blocks in restoring order to schools in Detroit has been the lack of adequate teaching because of lack of pay, resources, supplies, and facilities. The announcement at least addresses one of those important issues for the teachers.
“We want to thank the Board of Directors and the FRC for even considering this,” said Deb Hoerres, who has been teaching for over 25 years. “This is a very important step for recruiting teachers for Detroit and having worked in the Detroit area, my commitment has always been for urban learning and making sure that equity for learning for all students is there. Closing that financial gap so that our experience is acknowledged is extremely important to me personally and it will be for the recruiting prospects moving forward. Putting those priorities first really makes a difference in the classroom for us and the students.”
Altogether, Vitti said the announcement will cost the DPSCD roughly $30 million in investments for current and future teachers. TIP will be an estimated $22 million payout and teachers will receive that no later than September 2018. The one-time bonus will cost $3.3 million, $3 million will go to current teachers who qualify under the new experience agreement, and another $3 million for future teachers who qualify under the new experience agreement.
“This agreement includes all of DFT membership,” said Vitti. “That includes guidance counselors, psychologists, and social workers. However, those other unions that are not in DFT are not included. I would say 80-90 percent of teachers currently employed by our district benefit from this announcement.”