Muskegon Heights Teacher Sabbaticals May Come With New Strings Attached

Andrew Trzaska | December 14, 2010

Teachers in the Muskegon Heights school system may soon be required in writing to stay with the district after taking sabbaticals to receive further education.

Currently, the district allows teachers to take several months away from teaching to continue their education and work toward higher degrees.  These periods of time are approved by the school board at their biweekly meetings.  The school system then holds their position for their return several months later.  However, there is currently no requirement that a teacher stay with the system after their sabbatical.

At Monday’s school board meeting, board trustee Trinnell Scott and board Vice President Ronald Jenkins both presented these facts and requested the board take a look at requiring a certain amount of time that a teacher must serve with the system upon their return.

The concern expressed at the meeting by Scott and Jenkins was that teachers may use the education gained over their time away from the school system to immediately start searching for other work, using their leave from the system as a lead-in to a new job elsewhere.  Jenkins said that holding a teacher’s position for their return could be repaid by bringing their new skills and ideas back to the system.

“We give them something that benefits them, and they can give us something as well for the betterment of Muskegon Heights”.

School Superintendent Dr. Dana Bryant accepted the concerns of the board.  He did also state, however, that historically, teachers who took sabbaticals have not chosen to use their new education to quickly leave the system for new jobs.

No resolution came from Monday’s meeting, but the recommendation was accepted by Dr. Bryant, who said it could be investigated and something could be put in writing soon and discussed further.  No specific length of time was suggested by board members at the meeting either.

Two teachers were each given two-month sabbaticals by unanimous vote of the board at Monday’s meeting, leading to this discussion.

Each teacher’s sabbatical will run from January 11, 2011 until March 17, 2011.

Andrew Trzaska

103.7 “The Beat” – local government beat reporter and political analyst