Added work days with no added pay; school district teachers upset with amended 2019-20 calendar

Detroit Public Schools teachers find themselves at odds with the district over the next school calendar.

The Detroit Public Schools Community District recently approved the 2019-20 school year, which included an additional five work days. However, those added days don't come with added pay. In response, the union is pushing back.

"Well, it's not said and done according to Detroit Federation Teachers," said Terrence Martin, president of the union.

The additional work days would be for professional development. However, Martin said there's no need to increase the length of the year.

"We would argue that there is time in the calendar currently for professional development," he said.

Representing 4,000 teachers, the union is now working to bring the calendar back to the bargaining table. Martin said the union has "implored the school district" to revisit the issue. Along with the request, union members plan to make their voices heard at the next school board meeting set for May 14, at the Renaissance High School. 

"So union members agreed to have a rally and a protest at (the) next school board meeting," said Martin.

While the issue has generated buzz and controversy, Martin notes he thinks the additional work days is a much smaller issue relative to other problems connected to the calendar - namely, wages.

"The calendar, as much as I understand, there's a number of issues with that calendar," Martin said. "This is really a byproduct of what's happening at the negotiating table relative to when it comes to wages."

That wage-conversation is ongoing. Martin said there is a dearth of $10,000 relative to other school districts and increasing wages is crucial to attracting and retaining quality educators.

"Our wage contract will expire at the end of the year," Martin said, "June 30th, so we want to make sure we get something of quality and something relatively soon."

DPSCD has released the following statement:

"Any claim that we would ask teachers to work without pay or attend required professional development without pay is preposterous. We have raised teacher salaries each year and have a pending offer on the table that would significantly increase teacher salaries once again. Regarding the calendar, it was approved by DFT, along with all of our other employee unions. It would never have been recommended to the School Board for approval if that did not happen. We plan to address misconceptions about the new calendar with teachers, such as snow days and PD days. The calendar was created with several stakeholders, including students, parents."