Detroit Teachers Ratify 3-Year Contract

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Detroit teachers approved a three-year contract early Saturday that includes $10,000 in interest-free loans from each educator to help the cash-strapped district save jobs.

Members of the Detroit Federation of Teachers ratified the new agreement by a vote of 3,578 to 2,031.

The union agreed to a $250 pretax deduction per biweekly paycheck starting in January; once the loan is paid out, teachers will receive a 1 percent raise in the contract's final year. Teachers will get back up to $10,000 if they leave their jobs.

Detroit Public Schools' spokesman Steve Wasko said the district and union call it an "incentive program" or "deferment," since the funds are set aside and returned to the educators.

Robert Bobb, Detroit Public Schools' emergency financial manager, said in a statement that the contract allows the district to avoid bankruptcy and save more than $100 million during the life of the contract.

See Also
Read a related Education Week story on the financial crisis in Detroit: "Decline and Fall".
(Includes videoWatch Video)

The deal also includes provisions for joint district-union professional development, peer assistance and review, and school-based performance bonuses.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing also issued a statement praising the union's "willingness to compromise at a time when there is really little choice." He said he hoped the unions representing city workers would be "so moved to follow suit" in their contentious negotiations.

A group of educators known as the Vote No Committee argued the voting process contained irregularities and said it filed an appeal with the American Federation of Teachers. The dissident group also seeks to recall the Detroit teachers union president, Keith Johnson.

The national union issued a statement Saturday calling it a "remarkable contract" with "ambitious reforms."

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