Four Wayland teachers grieve extra work after fall flooding

Tom and 4 teachersThe Wayland Board of Education Monday night heard a grievance on behalf of four Steeby Elementary teachers, stemming from a roof leak and water damage last October.

Tom Greig, Michigan Education Association UNISERV director and a former Wayland High School teacher, stressed that grievance was not about the incident itself, but about the lack of appreciation teachers received in coping with its aftermath.

Greig said teachers Lisa Neely, Beth Nykerk, Kelly Fortier and Danielle LaJoye did cleanup, assessment and replacement work over and above the call of duty, but none received a penny more for their efforts.

“It wasn’t the process,” Greig explained. “They (the teachers) suffered as little as could be expected under the circumstances. But we believe there’s been an inequity and they should be compensated for their extra work.”

The four teachers took part in the cleaup of standing water in their classrooms, helped move materials and furniture and later scoured the Internet and other sources for bargains in ordering replacements.

Greig estimated that the four put in an extra 75.85 hours in extra work and at $30 an hour for paying cleanup crews, that would translate into $2,275.50. However, he and the Wayland Education Association finally agreed to ask the school district for an additional $200 apiece for their efforts. Their grievance was denied at earlier levels.

Finance Director Bill Melching said the district indeed was compensated by its insurance company, but it was $5,000 less than what it sought.

In denying the grievance, Superintendent Norm Taylor maintained, “Teachers are not compensated in other similar circumstances. No one in other cases has sought additional compensation for their additional time.”

He added, “It would be a gross inequity to begin this process. It would set a precedent.”

Taylor said he and other administrators came to the scene of the flooding, “and we were not compensated in any way… There are a number of circumstances in which teachers have to go above and beyond the call of duty. It’s just part of the position.”

Greig stated, “There was no contract (for the teachers) to do the work, but they were directed to do it by the administration.”

Nina Fontana, vice president of the Wayland Education Association, said, “Paying these teachers an additional $200 is just a thank you payment. It’s a gesture of appreciation.”

WEA President Lynn Donaldson said the age group of the students also was a factor in the extra effort.

“You can’t just give elementary students (third- and fourth-graders) something to do while you go take care of something else.”

Melching said, “We all kind of helped move stuff. I think most of your (teachers’) time was spent putting your rooms back together and then reordering (replacement furniture and materials). There was much time and effort spent (by others) in support.”

The school board is expected to rule on the grievance at its Aug. 10 meeting. It was the second employees’ grievance to go before the board in the last several months. Food service workers were denied their series of six grievances last spring.

PHOTO: Appearing before the Wayland Board of Education to talk about a grievance were (from left) Lynn Donaldson, Nina Fontana, Tom Greig, Danielle LaJoye and Kelly Fortier.

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