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It was standing room only at the Fenton Board of Education meeting Monday, Feb. 3. Teachers have been working for nearly a year without a new contract.

 Teachers at Fenton Area Public Schools are again fighting for a contract. And as in previous years, they packed the house at the Monday, Feb. 3 Board of Education meeting.

 According to Megan Ake, Fenton Education Association Crisis/PR chair on behalf of the Fenton Education Association, “Our last contract expired June 30, 2019. Union negotiators began meeting with district officials in March of 2019. This is pretty standard practice, to meet prior to the end of the contract to bargain a new one.

 “Almost a year later, we are still bargaining,” Ake said. “The major sticking point is financial. We have not, so far, voted on any specific offer.”

 Ake said the district’s fund balance (essentially a savings account) of around 12 to 13 percent, which equates to nearly $4 million, is the best it has been in at least five years.

 “Therefore, the union is seeking step increases, percentage increases, and possible monetary recognition for those members who have made significant sacrifices in the form of pay freezes and half steps,” she said. “Our fund balance about five years ago, I believe, was down to 0.8 percent. As you can see, these freezes, along with other concessions, have allowed the district to find solid financial footing again.

 “We know that there’s been uncertainty with funding at the state level, but we received an additional $240 per student this year,” Ake said. “There’s also typically concern over whether enrollment will decrease. Again, this year, we had a small increase in the enrollment.”

 Superintendent Adam Hartley did not address any specifics. He said, “The school district’s goal of reaching a fair and competitive financial agreement, collaborating in a timely manner for a full school calendar and continuing to strengthen our financial stability for the future remains. 

 “We have, and will, work toward this end by bargaining in good faith and adhering to a professional and confidential bargaining process,” Hartley said.

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