By Tom Tolen /

As a result of a ratification vote Tuesday night, the 325 teachers in the Brighton Area Schools are now under terms of a new contract.

Tuesday also was the start of school in Brighton for the 2022-23 academic year, and Superintendent Matthew Outlaw said things went very smoothly with no major glitches.

The Board of Education ratified the 3-year agreement at a special meeting on a 5-1 vote. The only no vote was cast by Trustee John Conely, who objected to what he called “the largest increase in history, or at least the last 20 years." Fellow Trustee Bill Trombley was absent from the meeting. Teachers had previously ratified the agreement in meetings held over the weekend.

Superintendent Matthew Outlaw tells WHMI he is, in his words, “really looking forward to working collaboratively with the teachers to make our district the best it can be.” He also praised the teachers for their commitment and strong work ethic during the COVID pandemic, implying that the contract was, in part, a reward for their hard work and dedication to the district and its students.

Brighton Education Association President Barry Goode tells WHMI that the union is, quoting, "very pleased with the contract; we worked very hard for six months to get to where we got to."

The old contract expired on August 31st. Its replacement gives teachers a 4.5% salary increase the first year, 3.5% the second year and 2% the third year it's in effect. The relatively generous terms of the contract are based in large measure on record funding to public schools provided by the state and federal governments over the last two years. Another positive, Outlaw says, is that the district’s enrollment has been holding steady at around 5,900 students in grades pre-K through 12.

The contract brings the starting salary for a newly-hired teacher with a bachelor’s degree and teacher certification to about $46,800. At the top of the salary scale, it rounds off at a salary for a veteran teacher with a "master’s degree plus 30" to over $90,000.

Goode says the 4.5% pay increase for this year actually amounts to a 5% raise since there is a provision for teachers to receive another 0.5% for going through professional development.

Goode says that while the teachers agreement is a good contract, the union was “mindful of the fact that it needed to consider not this year, or next year, but the long-term future of the district." He said teachers didn’t want Brighton to get into a sitution where it was dipping into fund equity to fund their salaries, saying, “it could lead the district to going back to deficit (as it was several years ago).”

While saying he was not against pay raises per se, Conely told WHMI the extra money should have been used "to benefit the students directly."

In other action Tuesday night, the board ratified a three-year contract with the Brighton Area Schools Administrators Association, or “BASAA”. The bargaining unit represents about 25 school principals, assistant principals and directors in the Brighton Area Schools. Terms of the agreement were not immediately available.