The Chelsea School District and teachers reach agreement

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The Chelsea School District Board of Education and the teachers union recently reached an agreement that has both sides satisfied.

The school board has ratified the 2021-2022 Tentative Agreement between the Washtenaw County Education Association/Chelsea Education Association, MEA/NEA and the Chelsea School District Board of Education that was executed and signed by both parties on Aug. 18.

The Sun Times News (STN) followed up with both sides to get a better idea of what the agreement is about.

CSD Superintendent Julie Helber told STN this was a one-year collective bargaining agreement with 158 teachers. She said the teachers will receive their steps and lanes per the salary schedule and a combination of on scale and off scale raises, along with a retention bonus if they stay in the district for the full year, and they will also see higher district contributions to their health care.

“Negotiations were a productive process this year and we are pleased to honor all of our teachers for their dedication to the Chelsea School District and our students,” said Helber. “The year's raises keep our Chelsea Teachers among the top paid teachers in Washtenaw County.”

Adam Schilt, CEA president and Chelsea High School teacher, told STN it's important to understand that this was not a round of negotiations that reviewed the contract in its entirety; this was a one-year financial re-opener to bargain only compensation and benefits for the 2021-22 school year.

“The district was committed to keeping our compensation competitive with other districts in our area,” Schilt said. “We were able to agree on a compensation package that did that, while also being mindful of the district's goal of fiscal responsibility. We also added a counseling department chair position, which fulfills a huge need for our district's counselors.”

STN asked Schilt if the teachers union is satisfied with the agreement and he said the, “CEA and the District were able to come to an agreement that benefited both parties.”

“The last couple of years in particular have emphasized just how hard our educators work to make high-quality educational experiences accessible for students, regardless of the circumstances, and we are happy that the agreement we reached acknowledges our educators for that work,” said Schilt. “It is quite literally impossible to assign a price tag to the value of our educators, and there is still a long way to go before teachers are compensated at the level they deserve across our country; that said, both parties came away from this round of negotiations satisfied with the result.”

STN followed this up and asked if there was anything in particular he and the union wanted the community to know about?

“More than anything, we are thankful for the outpouring of support from our community,” Schilt said. “On behalf of Chelsea's educators, I'd just like to add that the past couple of years have been among the most difficult that any of us have faced. We also realize that this is true for our students and our families. The pandemic has had far-reaching consequences that have stretched each of us to or beyond our physical and mental limits, and emotions have understandably been running high as a result. We have appreciated every positive comment, every note, every email, and every conversation with community members. These are precious reminders of why we put in this work for our community's kids. Know that we also appreciate Chelsea's families. We see and recognize your own hardships, your own concerns, and we are in this line of work for you, too. In spite of the obstacles we all face, we are excited and optimistic about this year with our students.”

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