After months of negotiations, a contract for Fowlerville Community Schools’ teachers has been approved.

On Tuesday, the district’s Board of Education voted unanimously to ratify a one-year contract with the Fowlerville Education Association (FEA). The agreement calls for a 2% wage increase for the 2017-2018 school year and steps for eligible employees. Superintendent Wayne Roedel says there are 89 staff members on the schedule that will receive a step based on their year of experience, and that those steps range from a 3 to 6% hike. FEA President Carrie DeLuca declined to comment on the teachers’ contract, deferring to Roedel for a statement.

Contracts are typically negotiated by early summer, making FCS the last district to complete the process. A heated board meeting earlier this month brought in over 100 educators and community members, many of whom suggested the lacking contract meant that the administration did not value its teachers. Roedel says the negotiations and ongoing conversation was never about their value, but instead about maintaining a sustainable budget.

Roedel says he’s glad the contract is settled, but did mention it will create a budget dilemma. A deficit of a little less than $400,000 is expected in the first year. Referring to the anticipated debt, Trustee John Belcher spoke to the audience that included teachers and members of the FEA at Tuesday's meeting. He says FCS will be put in a “pretty tough spot” and encouraged those in attendance to come to future meetings to see how certain components affect district planning.

Roedel says cuts will have to be made and due to a decline in student enrollment, administration will likely look at minimizing staff first. Still, Roedel says he’s not concerned with cuts at this time and that the board will discuss district priorities at a November meeting. (DK)