Updated October 5, 2016: The contract agreement was ratified this morning by Traverse City Area Public Schools' board. The teachers union ratified the agreement on Monday.
Traverse City teachers could secure a three-year contract giving them a pay increase into 2020. Officials in Traverse City Area Public Schools have reached a tentative contract agreement with the Traverse City Education Association, the teachers' union.
Under the agreement, teachers would get a 1.5 percent pay increase each year as well as step increases – a pay increase that reflects a teacher's years of service. Teachers would also get a new, more affordable health insurance plan.
District Superintendent Paul Soma says this would take care of contract negotiations for the next four years since this year's contract has already been approved. He says this would be the longest break from contract negotiations for teachers since at least 2002.
“Our teachers don’t want to worry about what’s happening at the negotiations," Soma says. "That now is off their plate. They can focus their attention on the classroom, and I think the biggest benefactors of this will be the students of TCAPS."
Soma admits there is some financial risk for the district associated with this agreement. TCAPS would be committing to a pay increase without knowing exactly how much per pupil state funding they'll get in coming years. Soma says this shows that teachers are one of TCAPS' priorities.
"Our priority is to make sure that staff is taken care of in that environment," says Soma.
Soma says the reward for teachers and students far outweighs the financial risk. He says a small increase in state funding over the next few years would cover the cost of this contract.
A final agreement could be reached by next week.