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Hancock announces new teacher contract, school day changes

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette Steve Patchin, shown during the Hancock School Board meeting where he was chosen as superintendent, recently addressed the new Hancock Public Schools teaachers’ contract as well as plans to change aspects of the school day.

HANCOCK — In an email sent out to the district last Friday, Superintendent Steve Patchin announced that the school board and the teachers union settled on a new contract, the duration of which is two years. There will also be major changes coming for the 2021-22 school year, he added.

In addition to teachers receiving a 1.5% salary increase for this year, and a 1.5% increase the following year, the high school and middle school will see significant changes in both days and marking periods.

Patchin said the middle and high schools will switch from the current seven-period day to six-period days Also, the administration and staff working together on developing a schedule with12-week trimesters rather than the current 18-week semester system.

“One of the big things in the contract is we’re moving from the seven-period to the six-period day, and going to trimesters,” said Patchin, “and that was a big talking point.”

Patchin said the changes will allow the schools to offer students more electives, and with a six-period day rather a seven-period day, core courses will be longer, so they will get more instructional time with their teachers.

Patchin said when discussing core courses, whether math, English Language Arts (ELA), or sciences, every instructional minute counts, and those extra minutes will add up throughout the year.

“We’ve agreed that the teachers and the administration are going to work together to put this new program together,” he said, “and then we’re going to learn from it, and modify it as move forward.”

Patchin said that some of the top school districts in the state, including Novi Community Schools, Northville Public Schools, and the Troy School District, are on six-period days and it has proven successful, and added that “actually, it’s taking us back to our roots.”

Until 1997, Hancock Schools was at six-period days, then switched to the current seven-period day system.

Additionally, teachers will be paid for what is called “steps and lanes” for the next two years. “Steps” are raises in salaries for each additional year of experience. “Lanes” are salary increases received once additional educational credits and degrees are earned.

“You can view the previous contract to see how this works at: http://www.hancock.k12.mi.us/docs/HEA_Agreement.pdf,” said Patchin. “The new contract will be posted at this link in the coming weeks.”

The contract also adds a “Step 25” at an increase of 1% above “Step 24,” while removing “Step 0,” the email states, adding that “the adjustment helps us continue to attract the top teaching talent in the state to Hancock Public Schools.”

“Steps are things that the teachers earn throughout the years as they advance in their professions,” explained Patchin, “so, they are automatic increases that are built in, so we’re changing that scale and moving it higher.”

Extra-Duty Stipends (additional pay) have been added for duties including operating student programs involving: coding, Girls on the Run, Lego Club, Publications Club, and the Civil Air Patrol Advisor. Patchin said they are excited about these initiatives and want to support those developing and operating them.

“As our school begins to grow in enrollment next school year, with these exciting changes we will be compensating teachers for the increased number of students they will be teaching and mentoring,” said Patchin. “As our enrollment increases, they will be eligible for up to a 3% one-time off schedule payment in December 2021, to compensate them for their extra efforts to educate and engage our students. Teachers will receive a one-time, off-scheduled payment in December 2021, of 1% when district enrollment is between 700-724, 2% when district enrollment is between 725-749, and when district enrollment reaches above 750 students a 3% payment.”

The last change will be regarding the one-time cash payment to teachers retiring upon their written request. Previously, the teacher needed to report their retirement and request the payment by Aug. 14, now moved to April 15, so the administration can fill their position with a high quality educator in this tight hiring environment.

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