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Keeping High-Quality Teachers a Topic of Discussion at Muskegon Heights School Board Meeting

Andrew Trzaska | July 25, 2011

How long could Muskegon Heights require its teachers to stay with the district after receiving sabbatical time from the district to further their education?

Board members considered this question at Monday’s school board meeting.

Board vice president Ronald Jenkins expressed concerns multiple times in recent months about the district’s ability to hold on to talented teachers; at Monday’s meeting, he raised the concern again.

Jenkins believes the district’s policies concerning leave for continuing education are generous, but feels the district’s investment can be lost if those educators use their new certifications to leave the district.

Currently, teachers must remain with the district for one year following their sabbatical.

Jenkins suggested a two-to-three year requirement as a possible change when negotiations with the teachers union could be done.

Board trustee Trinnell Scott echoed Jenkins at the meeting:

“We want our teachers to further their education,” said Scott. “But, I think we need to work with the teachers union.”

The current teacher union contract expires in two years, at which point contract terms like this requirement of service could actually be negotiated.

Board president Rev. Avery Burrell suggested during Monday’s public meeting that the board consider the possibility of preliminary talks with the union sooner than 2013 about it to prepare for the final negotiations.

Union representatives at the meeting audibly laughed at the idea.

On the specific agenda item where the concern was raised, the board voted 6-1 to approve the teacher’s sabbatical, with trustee Kassandra Kitchen voting no.

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