Teachers Triumph

Dearborn Teachers Receive A New Five-Year-Contract After Months of Negotiations.
Teachers Triumph

Dearborn Public School teachers recently received a new five-year-contract that took effect on August 23, 2023 after the previous contract expired on June 30, 2023. The first meeting of negotiations for the contract transpired on March 24, 2023 with the Dearborn Federation of Teachers (DFT) and a district representative from the district’s Human Resources department. In preparation for the negotiations, the DFT sent a survey at the end of January 2023, to every teacher in the district asking for what they hope to see in the new contract and narrowed it down to several key topics.

When the DFT was preparing for the negotiations and the new policies that they wanted to focus on, they mainly took their ‘Let Us TEACH’ slogan into consideration. In ‘TEACH’ the T stood for time, E for equity, A for accountability, C for compensation, and H for health. DFT President Kathi Martin said that the DFT especially prioritized time and equity because a majority of responses from the survey revolved around them in various ways.

“Time was a big one because teachers are staying after school for meetings on a regular basis,” Martin said.

“A lot of people wanted shorter or reduced staff meetings and also wanted more time to plan. People were wanting more equity across the district, because they were feeling like one side of the district was getting less resources than the other side of the district. So, we took all of people’s input, and we came up with proposals.”

The first negotiation meeting between the DFT and the district representatives happened on March 24, 2023 and continued for a few months. The representatives present for the negotiations between the DFT and the district would vary each meeting. Some of the major changes in the new contract include early release, semester one ending before winter break, an increase in the teachers salary. Instead of 8 sick days per year, members hired on or after July 1, 2013 will have 10 sick days, and the ability to have more clubs at schools.

The district received a salary increase this year, based on the increase they received from Lansing. The salary schedule was reduced to 12-steps instead of the original 18-steps in order to make the hiring process simpler and more efficient. The 12-steps represent how long you’ve been working in the district and it determines your salary, meaning the longer you work in the district the more you make.

Martin said that the DFT negotiated a bonus called longevity as well as adding more sick days in order to ensure that there was equity between newly hired teachers and teachers who have worked in the district longer.

“We decided to add the longevity bonus because even if someone comes in with a higher step than you, there’s a longevity amount that you’re going to get that they can’t get until they hit their fifth year. That’s supposed to equal out teachers coming from other schools, and getting paid more,” Martin said. “Originally, under the last two contracts, some teachers would get more sick days every year than others. So, the newer teachers were getting less sick days. So with this contract, over the course of three years, all the teachers are going to get the same amount of sick days, which is equity. We were also able to shorten the duration of the staff meetings after school.”

DHS language arts teacher and building representative Adam Smith said that he wishes that the new contract will provide teachers enough time to complete their work so that they don’t have to work after school hours.

“My biggest hope is that this new contract gives teachers enough time, especially during the school day, to get all of the work that we need to get done, completed,” Smith said. “Also, finishing a lot of the planning work so that we can spend less time outside of the school day doing work, and enjoy our lives and our families.”

Dearborn High School head principal Zeina Jebril said she was delighted when the new contract passed and hopes that it will have a positive effect.

“I support my teachers. It’s really important for me that my teachers get what they need,” Jebril said. “I always want my teachers to feel supported, and I’m happy that they got a lot of what they were expecting. I was very happy when the contract passed, as they wanted it.”


At the start of the school year there have been many noticeable changes in the way the school operates and some of the major changes include the shortened passing time and no phone policy during class. Contrary to popular belief, a lot of these decisions were not a part of the new contract but rather they were building wide decisions. In other words, these decisions were based on the opinion of the school building’s staff.

Early release is on Tuesdays and it allows students of all grades to be released 90 minutes early, for high schools and middle schools each class is shortened to 40 minutes and the bell rings at 1:15 p.m. instead of 2:45 p.m. Early release started on Oct. 10, 2023 and will continue until May 28, 2023. It was proposed by the district and the DFT agreed to it as long as they had the preparations made and if the community supported it. When early release was announced to the public many Dearborn parents were concerned with how their child would get picked up from school because of job conflicts and lack of childcare options. As a solution, the district is providing a new childcare option called the Early Release Enrichment for students in kindergarten to eighth grade and it will provide registered students with time for a variety of activities like playing outside, doing homework, games and activities until the time they would have normally been released from school.

Martin said that early release provides teachers with extra time so that they’re able to discuss key topics during the professional learning communities (PLC) with hopes of creating a better learning environment and how to improve student achievement.

“Teachers have had time to analyze where their students are functioning and what their levels are. So they can tailor make lessons for those students who might be struggling, or the students who are even excelling,” Martin said.

The first semester is going to end before winter break on Dec.22, 2023 while the original contract had it ending after winter break on Jan. 20, 2023. While it may not make a big difference for elementary and middle school students, it has a tremendous effect for high schoolers. For high schoolers this makes finals week, which occurs during the duration of three school days, four weeks earlier. Martin said that the reason for ending the first semester before winter break was because they wanted students to feel more relaxed during the break and they wanted time to be used more efficiently.

“A lot of people, including students, were frustrated that they would go on winter break, and then come back, and then have to do finals. They felt like they couldn’t relax during winter break and that they needed to be studying during winter break. Even for teachers they felt stuff that they taught leading up to winter break, they had to reteach in January, and that the first couple of weeks weren’t utilized efficiently,” Martin said.

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