PORTAGE, Mich. (WOOD) — Portage Public Schools has reached a tentative agreement with its teachers for a new contract.

The Portage Education Association, which is the teachers union, ratified the agreement, with 90% of members voting in its favor, PEA President Chris Furlong said Friday.

Now, the Portage Public Schools board is expected to vote on the agreement at its next meeting, scheduled for Monday.

A summary of the collective bargaining agreement provided to News 8 by the PEA shows the deal includes an across-the-board pay increase of 4.5% for employees in the Schedule A pay structure.

The one-year agreement also addresses safety. If approved, it would have the district recognize “its responsibility to give reasonable support and assistance to Teachers” regarding classroom control and discipline and have any workplace injury subject to workers’ compensation and state law.

“It’s about teachers and what teachers have to endure and have to go through,” Furlong said. “No teacher should have to be verbally or physically assaulted in a classroom. Also, from that perspective, there should be things in our contract that protect us from that and hold our district more accountable to that.”

The agreement would later create a task force addressing student behavior, with representatives from both the union and school district.

“It was one of those top three things (where) we really need some language that’s clear in classrooms and how things need to be handled in a more professional manner, but also more of a clear direction,” Furlong explained.

The deal also increases the number of funeral leave, establishes a “sick leave bank” for teachers who find themselves in need of extra days and tosses restriction on personal business leave.

The deal also sets elementary class sizes and overload pay of $500 per student per semester if a class size exceeds the agreed-upon limit:

  • Young 5s: 21
  • Kindergarten: 24
  • First grade: 25
  • Second and third grade: 26
  • Fourth and fifth grade: 28

“If class sizes continue to grow and get bigger and we don’t hire more teachers and don’t recognize that, then it’s going to be harder to educate those kids to a standard to which, I think, Portage community members want,” Furlong said. “With that being said, we wanted to get some class size stuff in there where it held the district financially accountable if they want to grow those classes.”

Furlong said the ideas in the contract came from members.

“I think we’re very careful about how we structure our questions to make sure we’re getting the voice of the membership, and then we move from that direction,” he said.

The previous contract expired June 30. Negotiations for a new deal started in mid-May.