Detroit Public Schools and Detroit Federation of Teachers agree to extend contract, continue negotiating

Detroit Public Schools’ Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb and Keith Johnson, President of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, on Wednesday announced an extension of the current DFT contract through Oct. 31, 2009.

As a result, the school year will start on time on Sept. 8, and teachers will be in the classroom as scheduled in the City of Detroit.

“I believe that both the Detroit Public Schools and the Detroit Federation of Teachers are committed to dramatically reforming our school system, and we have laid out an extensive negotiations schedule to work out the details of the significant reforms that are on the table,” Bobb said. “Increasing student achievement is our number one priority and these initiatives are all focused on this goal as well as enhancing teacher effectiveness, and enhancing the overall quality of education delivered in the City of Detroit.”

Included in the agreement was a commitment to continue to negotiate significant reform initiatives, expected to be included in a five-year contract.

“We are committed to doing what’s right on behalf of kids,” Bobb said.
The initiatives are consistent with reforms discussed on the historic professional development day that was held on May 26 with Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.

These initiatives include: peer assistance and review, professional development, shared decision making, school based performance bonuses, and the creation of a cluster of our priority schools for targeted reform.

Bobb added that the district continues to have a number of economic issues on the table that are designed to take into account the financial condition of the school district, including obtaining $45 million in cost savings measures and restructuring the benefits packages and coverage. He pointed out that staff salaries and benefits account for more that 80 percent of the total budget of the Detroit Public Schools.

“These issues are extremely important for the long term stability of the school district,” Bobb said.

Bobb commended Johnson for working on the contract extension.

“Keith is an aggressive and dogged advocate for his membership and I respect him for fighting so hard to advance the DFT’s agenda,” Bobb said. “Keith has not liked every decision that I have made as Emergency Financial Manager, and he has made that clear at every opportunity he has had. But what I respect about him is that once the decision is made, he has done everything he can do to ensure the success of the school district so I really want to thank him for that.”

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