Detroit Schools Reach New Contract with Union

Terrence Martin and
by Scott McClallen


The Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD), Michigan’s largest public education system responsible for educating 51,000 children, has reached a new agreement with the Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT) Local 231 on a two-year successor contract before starting the ’21-22 school year.

DPSCD Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti and DFT President Terrance Martin agreed to terms on August 26, and DFT members ratified the agreement on September 1.

In August, the unit reached a safe reopening plan outlining the safety guidelines, additional hazards, and blended learning bonuses.

“As we open the school year, we will have hired 100 extra teachers to reduce class size and build a bench for future teacher retirements. To cross the finish line to ensure our teachers are the highest paid we will need to increase enrollment and dramatically alter an inequitable local funding formula that enables wealthier districts to offer higher reoccurring salaries to teachers,” DPSCD Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said in a statement.

Negotiated terms include:

  • Veteran top step teachers will receive a 4% increase each year
  • Teachers and ancillary staff below the top step will receive a step each year
  • All ESE (formerly special education) teachers will receive a $15K bonus. This bonus is a reoccurring verbal commitment beyond the two-year agreement
  • Retention supplements will be paid for long-term and day-to-day substitute position
  • All DFT employees will receive a $2,000-holiday bonus, and employees, including teachers who have served the District for over 20 years, will receive a $3,000 longevity bonus. All bonuses are retirement eligible.
  • This financial agreement is in addition to $2,000 in hazard pay that all DFT employees will receive, and an additional $2,000 if a teacher must teach online due to students quarantining.

The agreement follows the release of statewide learning assessments for 2021, showing the percentage of students proficient in grade-level subjects dropped in nearly every category.

Only 28.6% of students tested proficient or above in sixth-grade math, down from 35.1% in 2019. In third-grade math, 42.3% of students tested proficient, compared to 46.7% in 2019.

About 42.8% of third-graders passed the English language arts test, down from 45.1% in 2019. In 11th-grade math, proficiency dropped from 36.3% in 2019 to 34.5%, while eighth-grade math proficiency rates dropped from 41.4% in 2019 to 36%. Only 15.6% of students tested proficient in fifth-grade social studies, down from 17.4% in 2019.

All students didn’t take the test, complicating the assessment’s credibility after a year of learning disruption due to COVID-19.

DFT members include 4,343 people across 54 job classifications, primarily as teachers, master teachers, training and support coordinators, and auxiliary staff members.

“One of the District’s priorities remains to support exceptional talent,” DPSCD Board of Education President Angelique Peterson-Mayberry said in a statement. “As we navigate through this pandemic, we know that our teachers and our staff deserve the absolute best for their challenging work and continued dedication. When we started as a board in 2017, we knew that our teachers’ salaries needed to increase. Now, entering our fourth agreement, this has been a demonstrative commitment to working with our union leaders, and we remain committed to our relentless journey to ensure that our teachers are the highest paid in the state one day.”

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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on and Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.
Photo “Terrence Martin” by Detroit Federation of Teachers and photo “Nikolai Vitti” by Detroit Public Schools Foundation.



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