Flint School Board votes to cut staff pay by 19 percent
By Andrew Keller, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
FLINT, MI (WNEM) -
Some Flint School District employees said the decisions made by the school board on Monday night will hit them smack-dab between the eyes.
"Oh by far, this is the toughest decision that we've had to make to date, yes," said Flint's Interim Superintendent Larry Watkins.
That decision means 19-percent cuts across the board in staff wages and compensation. The cuts are part of the district's deficit elimination plan it plans to turn in to the state this week.
"I'm going to be making less than $350 a week, to take home," said Tammy Benedict.
Benedict said she's floored by the decision. She holds a master's degree and has taught special education at Flint Northwestern for eight years. She said she feels her union, the United Teachers of Flint, undercut its members by agreeing to these reductions.
"Yes, it is very frustrating; it seems like the union isn't standing behind us, is what it seems. No one came to us and said, 'What do you think about this? How do you feel about this?'" said Benedict.
The president of the teachers union declined comment on Monday night. But Flint Interim Superintendent Larry Watkins said the cuts had to happen to help the district reduce its multi-million dollar deficit.
"It's been a team effort, but again, not one that anyone is real happy about making," said Watkins.
David Davenport was the only board member who voted no to the cuts, and he said he believes its time for new leadership.
"I think the state's better off coming in, getting this thing straight, while it's a low number of a deficit, because if not, they're going to be in it forever if it gets any deeper," said Davenport.
Other things agreed upon in Monday night's meeting as part of the deficit-elimination plan includes staff member cuts, increased class sizes, eliminating the district's adult education program and the closure of the Sarvis Center.
Copyright 2014 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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