July 13, 2017

GRPS and GREA Announce Contract Agreement

The Grand Rapids Board of Education unanimously approved a two-year contract between Grand Rapids Public Schools and its’ teachers on Monday, July 10.

“The process was a collaborative, cooperative, amicable process that allowed us to meet the needs of both parties and increase our competitiveness to attract quality candidates,” said Joe Washington, Michigan Education Association (MEA) Uniserv Director.

The Grand Rapids Board of Education unanimously approved a two-year contract between Grand Rapids Public Schools and its’ teachers on Monday, July 10.

“The process was a collaborative, cooperative, amicable process that allowed us to meet the needs of both parties and increase our competitiveness to attract quality candidates,” said Joe Washington, Michigan Education Association (MEA) Uniserv Director.

The deal includes a new three-year compensation framework that provides all teachers a compensation increase in the first year. The increase will generally be largest among those with less than 20 years of experience. Members at the top of the pay scale will receive a smaller increase, but will also receive a contribution to a 403(b) retirement account. It also increases the starting salary to $40,000 over three years. The new salary schedule has been simplified and requires that a member achieve at least a minimally effective rating to earn step increases.

The average salary for Grand Rapids Public Schools teachers has traditionally been among the lowest in the county. The new contract works to close that gap and district leaders hope it helps the district retain talented teachers.

“The GREA believes this is a good deal for our members. The new contract allows for initial pay increases in 2017-18 and additional increases at least every three years. It is a win for everyone,” said GREA President Mary Bouwense.

The contract also increased planning time for members and increased the insurance hard cap to alleviate insurance costs.

“I am grateful to the bargaining team who worked diligently to get us to this agreement. We have outstanding teachers and professional staff, and the salary increases included in this contract provide long overdue recognition for the work that they do day in and day out for our students and families,” said Board of Education President Dr. Wendy Falb.

“This agreement is yet another example of how we continue to implement the GRPS Transformation Plan with a focus on recruiting and retaining the top educational talent in the country. We are investing strategically to ensure our hardworking staff receives the appropriate compensation they deserve,” said Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal.

The Grand Rapids Education Association has more than 1500 members and includes teachers, as well as some professionals, like nurses, therapists, and speech pathologists.