Information on Negotiations

How is the school calendar decided?

The calendar is a combination of input from three sources:

The RESD calendar for holiday breaks, start dates, and RESD-PD days.

The needs of the district for minimum contact days and hours, DPPD, and some cushion against weather days.

The AEA calendar committee, which takes survey information from members and prioritizes the wishes of the group.

Then, it is a combined effort of the superintendent and the AEA team. We all want the minimum number of days (state funding pays our salaries) and PD (keeps us all certified) and some holiday breaks (keeps the community happy, too!) 

Every day we take “off” for any reason means a day “added” somewhere else.

Example: want the Monday after Easter? Well, then, give up the Friday before Spring Break. Or a day at Christmas. Or add a Monday as the last day of school. 

The actual days of the week when holidays fall make a difference some years, too. No one wants a one-day week of school just because Christmas Day is on a Thursday.

Watch for your calendar input survey in the Spring, but remember, you cannot have everything you want and still complete the school year in June.

Why don’t we know Spring Break dates earlier? Well, actually, we do! Our Spring Break is decided at the ISD level, so that all area schools  follow the same schedule. If you want to know the dates for Spring break in 5 years, go to the Gratiot-Isabella ISD web page. We sometimes take an extra day beyond the week they select, but our spring break will not be shorter than the dates listed there. That applies to Christmas break, as well.

How a Contract is Ratified: The Bargaining Process

Both “sides” gather appropriate data: financial, member wishes, community needs, state requirements

An initial meeting with each side able to bring a first-draft proposal. Both sides ask clarifying questions, then separate to discuss. 

One or both sides brings a counter-proposal. For each suggested change, the responses are “decline,” “accept,” or “amend.” Again, clarifying questions are important, and some evidence and rationale is shared.

This process repeats until the two sides are close on what we want, sometimes creating a lengthy day of back and forth.

When we feel we have the best deal we can get without member input or resistance, we sign a Tentative Agreement and bring it to a vote. If membership agrees, the school board approves it as well. If the membership votes against the proposal, we go back to step 3.

If negotiations stall and neither side can compromise further, a mediator might be hired. 

Right-to-Work Laws allow the district to impose a “last best offer,” though, so we must be cautious about too tough of a stance while still fighting for the best deal for teachers.