Friday, April 08, 2011

Bay City Teachers Vote in Favor of Strike

And by a huge margin, too.

Bay City's local teachers union voted heavily in favor Friday of authorizing the Michigan Education Association to take steps that could initiate a statewide teachers strike.

The Bay City Education Association, which represents 450 employees of Bay City Public Schools, has tabulated and finalized those votes, according to the union's president Kevin Stapish. The final tally showed 76 percent in favor of authorizing the MEA to act, with 24 percent voting against it.

Bay City, like most Michigan school districts, would face a big deficit created by Snyder's budget proposal - an estimated $9.9 million shortfall to a district that has already made significant cuts in the past ten years.

Since then, the district has reduced operating expenditures by over $24.6 million, (Finance and Accounting Director Sarah) DuFresne reported. Bay City schools have also closed six buildings, reduced program offerings, moved toward more energy-efficient practices and reduced its workforce from 1,293 employees to 943 as of Monday — a cut of 27 percent.

DuFresne also noted Snyder's proposal to transfer $900 million from the general fund that was originally slated for public K-12 education to higher education, a move Bay City Public Schools Superintendent Douglas Newcombe took particular exception to.

They are objecting to the School Aid raid, and they are also very concerned about the emergency financial manager bill as well.

Several board members questioned the wisdom of implementing emergency financial managers due to the complex day-to-day requirements of running a school district, including vice president Pauline Helmling and Ben Gibson, who called the mangers' authorities "unilateral" and "un-American."

Count Bay City as one very unhappy school district. Could we really see a statewide teacher's strike? Stay tuned...