Teachers and support staff in the Thornapple Kellogg School District agreed to a new three-year contract Aug 14.
The three-year period is new this year. Previous contracts have only been for one year. Both the district and the unions are happy with the extension, said Superintendent Tom Enslen. “If both sides walk away feeling good about it, it’s good,” he said.
“The district as a whole is much healthier if we negotiate less often,” said Ray Rickert, president of the teachers’ union.
Teachers will get a half percent raise each year, plus step raises for seniority and obtaining higher degrees. “There wasn’t anybody who didn’t understand why we couldn’t go a whole step,” Enslen said of the increase.
Support staff contract negotiations included a major change in insurance benefits. Spouses and children will no longer be covered, which will hurt some, said Diane Knight, president of the support staff union “We are disappointed that concessions had to be made by support staff, but also understand that we were able to maintain positions for our custodial, maintenance/grounds and bus drivers,” she said.
Both unions praised Mike Hagerty of Kent ISD for his work as the financial director for the district. “Honesty and transparency were important and both were brought to the table via Mike Hagerty and the team,” Knight said.