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Saline Schools Get Financial Boost From State Retirement Funding Decision

Legislature's action will mean an extra $800,000 for fund balance.

A shot of good news is helping to take the sting out of a contentious summer for Saline Area Schools.

Word the state legislature for schools means the district will experience an $800,000 savings. That will aid in rebuilding the fund balance which has been the epicenter of a earlier this year.

Superintendent Scott Graden was upbeat Thursday relaying the news about the legislature’s decision to return the Michigan Public School Retirement System (MPSRS) rate from 27.72 back to 24.44. That will save the district $800,000 for the year and stave off future cuts for the time being.

But the influx of cash doesn’t mean the district is going to go on a spending spree, Graden said.

“This certainly takes the pressure off,” he said. “This is a good thing, but it is the first good thing in quite a while. Our immediate needs are to replenish our fund balance.”

The extra cash means the district will have some stability in its finances and the ability to handle any future bad news without automatically making cuts. Getting the fund balance back to a healthy margin is the top goal.

“That is the plan,” Graden said emphatically. “It seems we have got a lot of the structural costs in line. And now with the pension costs -- they really were skyrocketing, dealt with, those were two big issues that were driving our decisions financially.”

As the district heads into the new year, Graden said there was “peace in the valley” in regard to the relationship with the unions.  Administration and the unions have worked on projects this summer to heal the wounds.

The contract talks were difficult, but Graden said the district did not have to go without a contract and the staff realized they needed to get a deal done for everyone. Both sides shared the same intent, he noted.

“They came in offering concessions and we came in asking for concessions,” he said.  “Negotiations occurred about what it would look like.”

The mood of the teachers however could sour as they will soon be getting their first checks of the year under terms of the new contract. That’s going to mean cuts in pay of $3,000 to $10,000 depending on seniority.

Reactions were strong two years ago when wages were rolled back, he said. Teachers and other staff also have to pay a portion for health care and have to contribute to their retirement.

“Some will realize the extent of what they gave back,” Graden said. “It’s one thing to say I am giving up something, it’s another when it actually hits.”

The savings realized from the MPSERS decision will not translate into more money for the teachers. 

“We know with a two-year contract our costs so our somewhat locked in for next year,” Graden said. “If we don’t make our student enrollment numbers we have to make sure we have some ability to afford the change.”

MSU August 20, 2012 at 11:07 PM
SCOOBYDOO, SHUT UP! Stop posting your comments. No one cares about what you think! We live in Saline, we care about OUR People, we care about OUR Town, and we care about OUR Schools. Just take your post and go away, heck AnnArbor.com would love to hear from you. Stop bashing Saline School and there teachers! Just Shut Up!
SCOOBYDOO August 21, 2012 at 03:56 AM
@MSU, Nice reply, thanks for your intelligent response. Got a bug up your behind eh ? I live in Saline, I graduated from Saline High School and have had 3 kids graduate from Saline High School. "there teachers", I think you mean "their teachers". Did you graduate from the Saline School District , I hope not ! "Just Shut Up" you say, wow, just wow MSU. My oldest graduated from MSU, can you please pick a new name by chance ?
Mary Hess August 21, 2012 at 11:08 PM
MSU come=on I lived over fifty years with the Saline School System. Scoobydoo is not all wrong., but more important he is welcome to give his opinion.
Scylding August 22, 2012 at 04:54 PM
I have lived in Saline for thirty years. I have three kids in the school system. I regularly find myself in agreement with Scooby Doo. I don't remember agreeing with you on much, MSU. Nevertheless, I welcome any substantive comments you make. I'll be watching for them.
john Waterman August 22, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Saline Teachers are the best in the State. They are making sacrifices for our children. What will the rest of Saline do to keep our schools the best in the nation? Paying less in taxes is not a sacrifice. Our children are our greatest investment for the future. When do we stop cutting everything from our schools? Lets begin the process of improving education rather than just trying to keep the doors open.

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