Cut in education funding puts further strain on district

By Charles Sercombe

One by one, public school teachers in the metro area are agreeing to salary cuts to help defray budget deficits. River Rouge teachers recently agreed to a 15 percent pay cut.

Teachers in Oak Park are taking a 5 percent hit, while teachers in Bloomfield Hills, Lake Orion, Oxford, Walled Lake and Waterford have agreed to give up planned salary increases.

In Hamtramck, there is no indication teachers will agree to a cut. The district faces a $4 million deficit, which will only get worse with a $470 per pupil cut in state revenue sharing.

Hamtramck Superintendent Tom Niczay said that, when you factor in other expenses, the loss in state aid equals $700 per student. Add it all up, Niczay said, and the district is facing a loss of $1 million in revenue in the coming year.
Niczay said he has no idea how his district will survive that financial blow.

One thing is for sure, Niczay said: the teachers’ union has to agree to contract concessions in order for the district to survive.

But there seems to be a communication problem within the teachers’ union. Several teachers have spoken privately with The Review about their concern that their union leadership has not informed them of the offers being made.

Union President Bo Karpinsky hasn’t been clear on this matter, saying the union leadership has rejected past contract concessions. Apparently, those past offers were not put up to a full vote of the teachers.

Niczay said formal contract negotiations will begin April 6.

If the district fails to balance its budget, the state can step in and appoint an emergency financial manager.

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