Lansing Teachers, School Board Approve New Contract

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When Lansing teachers voted a new contract through, this week, the goal was simple: Make the district financially stable.

Almost 79 percent of the Lansing Schools Education Association cast their votes, by Thursday's 5 p.m. deadline, with more than 80 percent of them voting, 'Yes'. The result was a new deal.

"It's a five-year language agreement, so working conditions," said Chuck Alberts, Vice President of the LSEA. "Then it's a two-year agreement for economic issues, so salary, benefits, anything that has a dollar amount directly tied to it.

Without giving too many details on those dollar amounts, Alberts says tough decisions had to be made.

"Our funding structure has really suffered the last few years, so with that, you have to come to the table and you're not talking about pay raises," he said. "You're talking about what we can do to keep the district solvent and moving forward."

That includes changing the way Art, Music and Physical Education are taught at the district's elementary schools.

"Now we're going to have the classroom teachers that students are with on a daily basis delivering that instruction, as well," said Alberts.

It's all to help the district save money and Alberts says as many specialized teachers will be retained as possible, but not everyone is happy.

Barbara Jean Hanson, an art teacher at Pleasant View, says she's not only concerned for herself, but more for her colleagues.

"A lot of them cannot teach another subject except for Art or Music or P.E., so I'm very concerned for them," she said.

As for the possibility of losing grants because of the five-year contract, the superintendent isn't concerned.

"I think we've done this in a reasonable fashion," said Yvonne Caamal Canul, Superintendent of Lansing Schools. "No new precedence has been set and I think the Legislature will understand what we're trying to do."

Both Caamal Canul and Alberts say the contract was not approved as a way to avoid 'Right to Work', which takes effect March 28.

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