GRPS teachers upset over contracts, pay

11:22 PM, Mar 4, 2013   |    comments
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Teachers testifying before the Grand Rapids Public School board about pay, contracts.

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Members of the Grand Rapids school board Monday night planned to focus the district's transformation plan -- including uniforms and boundaries for individual schools -- but teachers wanted to talk contracts.

Several teachers cried while telling board members their take-home pay is substantially reduced because of their required contributions to their health care programs.

The district is in talks with the Grand Rapids Education Association about a new contract.

Board members did not want to discuss the negotiations Monday night because that wasn't on their agenda.

Teachers waited until the public comment portion of the meeting and lined up to speak.

"I heard a principal tell me once that we are in really hard times, the toughest it's ever been for young teachers," said one educator. "But if you just push through, on the other side of this storm that we're in will be the teachers supposed to be there. That's not fair to put on young teachers because I have to buy food... and I can't."

"We have very committed teachers, very committed employees in this district and I don't think that what they're asking is unfair and unreasonable," said superintendent Teresa Weatherall-Neal. "People love their jobs here and I get that."

Superintendent Weatherall-Neal says she is hopeful that a contract will be reached before the right to work legislation takes effect later this month.

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