Troy teachers plan to picket school board meeting – The Oakland Press

Members of the Troy Education Association and parents will protest outside the Troy Board of Education Tuesday evening. Teachers in the district have been working without a contract since February 1. photo by Matt Fahr

The Troy teachers union said Monday that teachers and parents will protest outside Tuesday night’s school board meeting because the district has not agreed to a new contract after months of negotiations.

“Teachers in the Troy School District have been working without a contract since February 1, and every day the Troy Board of Education delays providing its teachers with competitive wages and fair working conditions,” the Troy Teachers Association said in a statement. “The district risks losing more of its best and brightest teachers to other nearby communities.”

The two sides have had fifteen negotiating sessions so far. Both parties have agreed to retain a mediator from the Michigan Employment Relations Commission to help finalize an agreement. The first mediation session is scheduled for Wednesday.

The union, which represents about 800 professional employees in the district, said other school districts in Oakland County have signed contracts with pay increases and improved working conditions. Troy administrators have instead chosen to “hoard approximately $32 million in their reserves.”

That figure refers to the fund’s $32 million in assets, which the union says is the second highest in Oakland County.

“The Troy School District has a huge fund balance, but district leaders refuse to fairly compensate local teachers and treat us with dignity,” said Alex Benitez, a teacher at International Academy East. “Troy students deserve great teachers who can provide our children with the education and skills they need to succeed. That cannot happen if talented teachers continue to leave Troy for other school districts that pay significantly higher salaries and offer better working conditions.”

According to the district, their fund balance is $32 million of a $190 million budget – just under 17%.

According to the district, the average fund balance in Oakland County is 16%.

“We are slightly above the average in the province. Best practices, as determined by our auditors, suggest that school districts retain approximately 15%,” the district said in a statement. “That said, we understand that we will need to use a portion of our fund balance to complete this contract.”