Richmond Community Schools’ board unanimously ratified a new teacher master contract, but one board member felt he needed to place his concerns about the district’s future financial obligations on the public record.

During the 8-minute special meeting on Nov. 27, board members John Weber and Aaron Stevens thanked representatives from Richmond Education Association, administration and school board members who spent many hours negotiating the two-year collective bargaining agreement.

On average, teachers will receive a 10% or $4,500 increase, based on a salary schedule analyzing their experience and education.

Although Weber voted for the agreement, he said he thinks it’s “too rich.”

“I think we overstretched and I want everyone to be super concerned,” Weber said. “We have a lot of expenses down the pike, and while I appreciate the effort and what this contract is doing, I’m also concerned it will stretch us in the future.”

Stevens said he prays that the contract “will go to reach the ultimate goal that everyone has — a total collaborative effort between all parties.”

Board President Nicole Stults called the pay increase “unprecedented.”

“I believe it demonstrates our appreciation for our teachers and sets the stage for the future success of RCS,” Stults said.

Jamie Bolser

In May, the board approved non-bargained supplemental payments to retain teachers whose salary did not appropriately reflect their experience and education, according to Jamie Bolser, chief financial and human resources officer. The $525 retention stipend is still being honored.

“As was originally presented at the time the supplemental resolution was passed, we honored our commitment to collectively bargain,” Bolser said. “We worked together to find a mutually agreeable solution and to implement a salary schedule which was needed for the last decade-plus. In essence, we experienced a win-win with being able to retain our teachers with the passing of the supplemental resolution and still bargaining the money with Richmond Education Association as was always the intent.”

If a teacher’s base amount already exceeds the new salary schedule, they will remain at the current base amount and receive a minimum $1,000 stipend for this school year.

Half of teachers will receive 10% or more; 27% of teachers will receive 5-9%; and 12% receive at least a $1,000 stipend. The average salary within that group is $71,840.

“While our work is still cut out for us in the sense of overall achievement, student absenteeism and student behaviors, our teams remain committed to the work,” said Superintendent Curtis Wright.

He expressed confidence that RCS would meet its goal of “providing the very best of student service, student care and student satisfaction in a user-friendly fashion.”

The board also approved an amended 2024-2025 school calendar, eliminating a professional development day on Friday, Feb. 14, 2025. Teachers will have 185 contractual days on their calendar as they do in 2023-2024. The change will not impact student days.  

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A version of this article appeared in the December 6 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.