BREAKING NEWS

BREAKING NEWS

Still giving 100 percent

EDITOR:

The Iron Mountain Education Association cares about the future of our district and its students.

A decrease in salary of 7.5 percent for all Iron Mountain Public school employees has been proposed. A 7.5 percent decrease to all 70-plus employees will equate to a $1,500,000 loss to our community alone. This will affect all local businesses and all home sales.

The IMEA has proposed an alternate budget plan to deal with the economic challenges our district is facing. The IMEA has always worked with the district through challenging times and we pledge to do the same now.

The Iron Mountain School District is in a projected deficit. We began 2014 with a positive fund balance, but are projected to end the year in deficit. A plan can be submitted for approval that gives the school district two years to get out of a deficit. In many cases, school districts have been granted extensions, as long as state guidelines are being followed. While Iron Mountain Schools are facing financial hardships, the problem does not have to be solved in one year.

With the current problems, Iron Mountain Public Schools has lost students to other districts – taking thousands of dollars in funding with them. Declining birth rate in Dickinson County is a concern for all area school districts. However, the number of students leaving the district because of School of Choice is increasing. Visit www.mischooldata.org for the Non-Resident Status Trends within our Intermediate School District.

Despite the decisions that have been made that are out of the teachers’ control, they are still giving 100 percent to make a positive learning environment for our children.

Iron Mountain teachers and support staff have sacrificed. They have worked for two years without a contract. They have taken on reduced insurance benefits and higher insurance premiums, while not getting an increase in salary for two years, saving the district thousands of dollars.

The Iron Mountain School Board has hired an outside, downstate lawyer who is charging thousands of dollars to our district. The grand total spent on this downstate attorney through April 2014 is $45,524.91. This does not include the cost of Fact Finding, which will cost the school district approximately $12,000. The cost to pay the teachers their steps and lanes for the 2013-2014 school year would have been $55,286. This lawyer is used to negotiate, handle grievances and even respond to emails. Are these not the responsibilities of the superintendent?

We are paying for an outside marketer to do our website and market our schools. A local community member, with a degree in Visual Communication/Computer Graphics, with an Advanced Certification in 3D Animation, offered to create a website and donate his time to the district, but was turned away. The district has always been well marketed in the past, without using outside sources.

During the 2012-2013 school year the district hired eight new teachers and then laid off 10 teachers in the spring of 2013. There are not any lay-offs expected for the 2014-2015 school year. Considering the amount of lay-offs we have already endured, cutting any more staff would clearly be a detriment to our school district.

Many of the positive ideas coming from the school district have been teacher driven. The teachers of the Iron Mountain Public schools genuinely care about the students and strive to give them the best education possible. We have an experienced staff and truly want Iron Mountain Public Schools to be the place to succeed.

Sandra Walker

Michigan Education Association/

Iron Mountain

Education Association