Brighton School Board members unanimously approved a new two-year contract with teachers with no pay increases this year and a 2 percent increase during the 2013-2014 school year.
The contract also includes the addition of an extra class, a seventh period, for teachers in grades 7th through 12th - a workload increase of about 17 percent, according to Brighton Education Association (BEA) President Ellen Lafferty.
"What is significant to remind the board and the public tonight is the BEA contributes 7 percent of their wages, along with higher health contributions last year, to help this district work its way out of deficit," Lafferty said. "This is in combination with a significant increase in work load. No one can stand here and disagree that the Brighton teachers are not doing their part in moving Brighotn Schools out of their financial trouble."
Currently, middle and high school students have six period days. Teachers teach five periods with one planning period. Beginning in 2013-14, they will teach six periods with one planning period.
The addition of a seventh period grants students the opportunity to take more electives, more college AP courses and gives them the opportunity for mediation if they have struggles, according to Superintendent Greg Gray.
"They have the opportunity to do a whole variety of things that will help them along," Gray said.
According to Gray, the higher payroll costs in the 2013-14 year will not prevent Brighton from making further inroads in its effort to eliminate the legacy deficit, which now stands at about $7 million.
Even though the BEA passed the contract, many teachers raised overwhelming concerns about a seven period day, Lafferty said.
"I'm concerned that we're doing this to offer students electives and everyone will be forced to take seven periods," Brighton High School teacher Sandy Tkac said. "I've never taught an AP class. I've taught heterogeneous groups and low level courses, and in my 11 years experience, many students have trouble keeping track and turning in the work for six periods."
Tkac also addressed how the seventh period would effect other classes by cutting them several minutes short.
"As a biology teacher, it's a heavy, dense curriculum," she said. "If I have 7 to 10 minutes less per period, that adds up to about 30 days in a school year that I don't get to present material. I find it hard when we have an unplanned snow day for one or two days a year, let alone 30."
Board Trustees John Conely and Miles Vieau expressed reservations approving the contract when the district was still in deficit.
Trustee Bill Trombley said that a 17 percent increase in work for a 2 percent raise was a "pretty good deal" for the district.