By Tom Tolen /

The Brighton Board of Education has approved a significant raise for 17 non-affiliated employees — a term which means they are not represented by a union. Following a closed-door meeting Monday the board approved the raises on a 6-0-1 vote.

The raises are identical to the ones approved earlier for the members of the Brighton education Association, which represents 325 teachers in the district. They amount to a 4.5% increase the first year, 3.5% the second year and 2% the third year the contract is in effect.

Although Trustee John Conely voted in favor of the agreement, he nonetheless asked several pointed questions about where the money was coming from and whether it was sustainable in the event of a decline in student enrollment.

The positions include a plethora of positions — among them, several district officials in central administration. They are Assistant Superintendent for Business and Finance Michael Engelter, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Elizabeth Mosher, Human Resources Director Chad Scaling and The Bridge Alternative High School Principal Colleen Deaven.

The other jobs affected involve positions such as community education coordinator, director of pupil accounting, Brighton Performing Arts Center director, clerical employees in central office, and several others. Funds for paying the pay increases will come from the district’s general fund as well as record funding to districts by the state and federal governments over the last two years — much of it related to the COVID pandemic.

The Michigan school aid budget for 2022-23 includes a record $450 increase in per-pupil funding to a total of $9,150 per student. In June the Brighton Board passed a record $99.6 million district budget. It includes a projection that fund equity will increase by over $3 million to a total of $14.7 million by the end of the 2022-23 fiscal year next June. That’s a far cry from several years ago, when the district was in the throes of a nearly $15 million fund deficit.