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Tentative deal reached between LCS, teachers (From 1-29-2017 Lapeer County Press)

Tentative deal reached between LCS, teachers

BY JEFF HOGAN
810-452-2640 • jhogan@mihomepaper.com

LAPEER — Culminating nearly 10 months of negotiations, Lapeer Community Schools officials announced Friday the district has reached a tentative agreement on a two-year contract with the union representing its 270-plus teachers.

The bargaining teams from the district and the Lapeer Education Association (LEA) met Thursday to finalize the terms of the contract. In order for the agreement to be in effect, it must be ratified by the LEA membership and approved by the school board. Ratification is expected to be complete by the end of the week.

“It’s a good day. It’s always good to be able to reach a mutual agreement to end a contract dispute,” said LCS Superintendent Matt Wandrie. “Although it took a long time it demonstrates that we can still work together to resolve complicated matters like this … We’re very pleased to get this behind us and we can get back to the business of educating our students.”

Lapeer’s teachers have been working under the terms of the 2015-2016 one-year contract after it expired at the end of last June. Teacher pay has been frozen while negotiations were underway last year.

Wandrie said the first LEA negotiation session was April 21, 2016.

School officials would not comment on the terms of the tentative contract until it’s approved by the teachers and school board. Teachers had said publicly the district was asking for a pay cut, while the district disputed their claim.

LEA union spokesperson Rejean Wolski commented of the tentative agreement, “The executive board members stand behind the negotiating team. We feel this proposal is a positive step in the right direction and it affords a measure of good faith financially towards what we each deserve.”

The contract with the teachers, should it be approved, is the last of seven bargaining units the district has reached agreements with. Each unit bargains independently with the district on the terms of their contract.

Earlier this month the district announced ratification of a new contract with the Lapeer Educational Support Personnel (LESP) union that represents the district’s paraprofessionals and the majority of its secretarial staff. In December, members of the district’s bargaining team met with the leadership of the LESP to finalize the terms of a two-year contract. The contract includes several modifications to working requirements and compensation structures.

“We are pleased to have come to an agreement that is amenable to both parties, and we look forward to maintaining a strong working relationship into the future,” said Wandrie at the time. “As a district, we remain committed to the process, bargaining in good faith and always seeking new and innovative ways to compensate our employees, even in the midst of hard times.”

The LEA, LESP and custodial contracts are two-year contracts, while the others are one-year agreements.

When approved, the LEA contract will be posted on the district’s website, www.lapeerschools.org.

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