By Tom Tolen /

The Brighton Board of Education and Brighton Education Association - which represents about 325 Brighton teachers — have reached tentative agreement on salary and other annual re-openers in their 3-year contract for the 2020-21 and 21-22 school years.

The board will hold a ratification vote on the proposed agreement at its meeting, on Monday, Nov. 23rd, while the teachers’ group has already ratified the contract.

Brighton Superintendent Matthew Outlaw, asked to comment on the pending agreement tells WHMI that he is extremely happy with the tentative accord. He says, in his words, “The value of our exemplary teachers is truly priceless." Outlaw added he feels the agreement is fair, considering the parameters imposed by the state, which are based on per-pupil funding and state and federal mandates. Brighton and other K-12 districts in Livingston County are among the lowest-funded school districts in the state.

If the tentative agreement is ratified by the school board, teachers would receive a 2.2% increase over their current salary for the 20-21 school year, retroactive to Sept. 1st. In 21-22, teachers would receive an increase of 1.5% over the 20-21 pay rate. However, if the state decreases the per-pupil funding level by $400 or more, the pay increase would only be 1%. On the other hand, should per-pupil funding increase by $200 or more, teacher salaries would see an increase of 1.75% over the 20-21 pay level. The increases will be considered permanent.

Additionally, if a teacher successfully completes 30 hours of professional development during the course of the contract period, the salary increase would be 2.3%. The increase would be considered permanent and not subject to re-negotiation each year.

Class size is another matter in which agreement has not been reached, pending approval of the contract re-openers. Under the tentative agreement, class sizes for grades 5 through 12 normally would be restricted to a maximum of 31 students per section, but up to 2 students could be added, for extra compensation. For the 21-22 year, class sizes in those grades would be limited to 33 students per section, with up to two additional students allowed for supplementary pay. Under the contract changes, teacher salaries would range from $44,105 for a starting teacher with no experience to a maximum of $86,567 for a step 12 teacher at the top of the salary scale this year and from $44,767 to $87,866 for the 21-22 year. The school calendars for the 20-21 and 21-22 would also be finalized if the agreement is ratified.

Despite restrictions and changes imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Outlaw expressed optimism about the future. He said, “We have a great team, and I am looking forward to working together as we write the next chapter for the Brighton Area Schools.”

BEA President Barry Goode tells WHMI he is satisfied with the terms of the contract, although he feels the teachers should have received more in the 21-22 school year than was ultimately agreed to. “It’s a decent compromise,” Goode said. He said district bargainers were concerned about the “unpredictability" of the economy and that it might take a nosedive next year, resulting in a decrease in school funding from the state. Voting was conducted online by the teachers on Tuesday and Wednesday. Goode did not divulge the vote count.

Both teachers and board members were frustrated with the lack of progress in contract negotiations as the summer passed and the new school year began. On several occasions, teachers lined sidewalks outside the BECC building, where the school board meets, demanding that salary and other aspects with annual contract re-openers be settled. In addition, the BEA filed two Level III grievances against the school district regarding sanitation and social distancing matters during the coronavirus pandemic. The grievances were ultimately denied and were scheduled to go to arbitration.