Shedding light on teacher contracts

Mackinac Center creates union contract database

Union contracts for all local school districts in Michigan — including 170 that will expire this year — are now available in an online database hosted by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, publisher of Michigan Education Report.

All collective bargaining agreements covering teachers, janitors, bus drivers, mechanics, secretaries, librarians and a multitude of other positions are available on the Center’s Web site as PDF files. At www.michiganschooldatabases.org., users can select “District Collective Bargaining Agreements” and choose a school district name to view a complete list of contracts.

"The collective bargaining agreements in the Center’s unique database reveal important details about local education policy," said Dr. Ryan S. Olson, the Center’s director of education policy. "State and federal governments issue scores of mandates and laws that constrain school districts, but local boards and employee unions still bargain many substantive issues. These include automatic salary increases and health benefits, as well as lesser-known policies such as calendars, class sizes, professional development, sick days, classroom assignments and how a teacher’s work performance can be evaluated.

"This database will serve several purposes," Olson continued. "Analyzing other districts’ contracts can help school leaders negotiate meaningful improvements to local policy. Direct access to contract language can help reporters trying to cut through the bargaining cross-fire. The contracts should also be interesting to Michigan taxpayers, since more than $19 billion was spent on Michigan K-12 public schools last year."

Also at the database site, users can access information about expenditures and revenue for every conventional public school district and public school academy in Michigan, as well as information about categorical grant funding in each district. The site also features the “District Checkbook Register Report,” a link to Michigan school districts which make their check registries available online for public examination.

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