The lack of a teacher’s contract affects FHS students

Sydney Bommersbach, Assistant Online Editor in Chief

Without a contract for the 2019-2020 school years, teachers, Board of Education members, students and family alike are experiencing the effects of the lack of an agreement. 

It is important to look at the financial stability that Fenton Area Public Schools has had in the past. According to MI School Data, over the past five years, the Fund Balance has increased by $3,452,962, beginning with $272,912 in 2015 and ending with $3,725,874 in 2019. 

Much of this monetary gain is attributed to the loss of block scheduling in the fall of 2018. It is this change in schedule that began the impact on students. 

“Switching to a regular day during my junior year was difficult,” senior Grant Carr said. “At first, I think the teachers gave us too much work because they weren’t used to the schedule and the shorter classes. Now it’s not as bad because they’ve learned to spread the work out, rather than trying to do 90 minutes of work in 45 to 60 minutes.”

Carr was not the only one who felt this way, as a poll done by the Fenton InPrint Twitter shows that 70.6 percent of students didn’t like the new schedule and wanted block scheduling back, when polled in October of 2018. In addition, 92.9 percent of students felt like they had an increase in homework in 2018 because of the new schedule change.

Since 2018, now that staff members have had time to adjust to the new schedule, “The union is seeking step increases, percentage increases, and possible monetary recognition for those members who have made significant sacrifices in the form of pay freezes and half steps,” Fenton Education Association Crisis/PR chair, Megan Ake said to the Tri-County Times. 

This shows that the Fund Balance increase also has to do with sacrifices made by teachers in their salaries, along with planning time given up with the schedule change. Instead of being compensated for this, the opposite is happening.

According to MI School Data, over the past five years, the Compensation Costs per Staff Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) is down 9.70 percent, beginning with an increase of .03 percent in 2015 and a decrease of 9.73 percent in 2019. This means that the total staff compensation has decreased by almost 10 percent since 2015. 

Because the Board of Education has not come forward with a contract the teacher’s union sees fit, a yearly calendar was published, but with the caveat that it was subject to negotiations; this is because the final calendar is a part of said contract. The lack of a confirmed calendar also affects students on a daily basis. 

“We go to New York every year at Thanksgiving to stay at my grandparents’ house,” senior Elizabeth Goodman said. “I remember this year we weren’t sure when we were going to be able to leave, because we didn’t know what days I had off for school.”

Although a month-by-month calendar is released, it could be difficult for families to plan larger, extended trips, because there is no way to know what exact days students have off. 

“The school district’s goal of reaching a fair and competitive financial agreement, collaborating in a timely manner for a full school calendar and continuing to strengthen our financial stability for the future remains,” Superintendent of Fenton Area Public Schools Dr. Adam Hartley, told Tri-County Times. “This will be achieved through bargaining in good faith and adhering to a professional and confidential bargaining process.”