Flint Community Schools and United Teachers of Flint Announce Landmark Grievance Settlement: A Collaborative Success Story

Flint Community Schools and United Teachers of Flint Announce Landmark Grievance Settlement: A Collaborative Success Story

Flint, MI - April 11, 2024 - Flint Community Schools (FCS) and the United Teachers of Flint (UTF) convened in a joint press conference on April 10, 2024, to unveil a landmark Grievance Settlement Agreement, marking a significant stride in our shared commitment to educational excellence and community welfare. Contrary to previous reports, this agreement is not a contract agreement but a grievance settlement, preserving the integrity of the existing Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) spanning 2022-2025.

Kevelin Jones, Superintendent of Flint Community Schools emphasized the necessity of careful fiscal management, noting that the Board of Education allocated $1.5 million to support the restoration. He highlighted the district’s strategic plan, focusing on resizing the district and seeking additional aid to address future deficits. To achieve something as monumental as this, the district must ensure it is moving forward and properly resizing our district. The decisions made by the Flint Board of Education regarding our properties and their repurposing are integral to our vision for Flint Community Schools. With multiple school renovations underway, including Doyle Ryder, Brunelle, Holmes, and Potter Elementary, we're committed to providing the best facilities for Flint's students. Superintendent Jones shared, “…renovating - we're doing this because we know that Flint Community Schools, the Flint kids deserve the best and so they deserve new buildings, they deserve renovated buildings and we we're doing just that we have allocated all of our ESSER funds toward this effort to ensure that we're doing what is best for our scholars.” By allocating all our ESSER funds towards these efforts, we're ensuring our scholars have access to top-notch facilities and resources.

Superintendent Jones stated, "This historic milestone requires prudent fiscal management, and the Board of Education has allocated $1.5 million to support this restoration. Our strategic plan focuses on right-sizing the district and securing additional support to mitigate future deficits."

The agreement, reached after nearly 16 hours of collaborative dialogue, reflects the collective dedication of both parties to fostering an educational environment where every scholar can flourish. It acknowledges the pivotal role of educators in shaping the future and underscores their invaluable contributions to our community.

Karen Christian, United Teachers of Flint President stressed the significance of restoring teachers and allowing new hires to enter with appropriate experience levels. She expressed their joint effort in recruiting both teachers and students to ensure a brighter future for Flint. Christian shared, “Our teachers will be restored, which is significant as it will enable the district to welcome new teachers at higher levels than previously possible. This is crucial as we need newer teachers in the district…New teachers can now be hired based on their level of experience. For example, if a teacher has three years of experience in a different district, they can be hired here at step three or four, depending on the district's discretion. This allows experienced teachers in our district to mentor new teachers, ensuring they understand how to work effectively in inner-city schools and build strong relationships with parents and students.”

Flint Community Schools and the United Teachers of Flint will continue to engage in open and respectful dialogue to diligently address the concerns and requirements of our educators and scholars, while also prioritizing the sustainability and advancement of our district. This agreement acknowledges the necessity of equitable compensation and supportive work environments for teachers while underscoring the pivotal role of professional development and ongoing training in enhancing the quality of education for our future scholars.

Key points of the Grievance Settlement Agreement include the following: (a) Retroactive Compensation: Teachers in FCS will receive backdated pay adjustments from the 2023/2024 school year. (b) Educational Collaboration: Prioritizing joint efforts to improve Flint Community Schools, focusing on student and teacher retention. (c) Salary Advancement: Step progression for previously frozen teachers based on years of service. (d) Extra Workdays: Three additional paid workdays in 2025/2026 to aid enrollment and development. (e) New Hire Positioning: Placing new teachers on salary scales based on experience. (f) Teacher Program Progression: Advancement for guest teachers meeting certification requirements. (g)  Program Removal: Eliminating Appendix I, with existing participants unaffected. (h) Planning Period Agreement: Reinstating prep/planning periods, reviewable if implementation proves difficult. (i) Tutoring Support: Encouraging teacher participation in paid tutoring. (j) Literacy Event Backing: UTF support for district literacy events. (k) Salary Differentials: Collaborating on differential pay and job descriptions. (l) Kindergarten Class Size: Discussions on alternative solutions for kindergarten class size overages.

Christian emphasized through this collaborative effort, “Our aim is to improve our district even further. While ensuring our teachers are fairly treated was our primary concern, collaborating with the district to align our efforts with the traditional calendar and attract more students is also crucial. Our current focus is to swiftly recruit both teachers and students to our district."

While we celebrate this significant milestone, Flint Community Schools remains steadfast in making well-informed decisions regarding the resizing, closure, and repurposing of buildings within our district. As we navigate the evolving landscape of education, our commitment lies in ensuring the efficient allocation of resources to best meet the needs of our scholars and community.

Superintendent Jones concluded the press conference by affirming the enduring commitment to fiscal responsibility shared by both the Board of Education and the administration. With $1.5 million allocated, the majority of restoration costs, approximately $1.3 million, are covered. Moving forward, attention will be directed toward addressing teacher step increases and appropriately scaling the district. A phased approach is being implemented to reduce the projected deficit, with efforts underway to secure support from state and government agencies. Emphasizing the importance of responsible information dissemination, transparency will remain a priority, with a focus on meeting the needs of our scholars. Superintendent Jones extended heartfelt appreciation to Flint Community Schools teachers, board members, parents, scholars, and the administrative team for their unwavering dedication and support throughout this endeavor.

Attachment: UTF Agreement - Signed - April 2024