School districts increasing pay, benefits to retain teachers

Education

UPDATE (Nov. 8, 2021):

Anderson Community Schools announced Monday that it and the Anderson Federation of Teachers have reached a tentative agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement that would provide teachers with a base salary increase and a series of stipends over the next two years. 

ORIGINAL STORY:

INDIANAPOLIS — Businesses have had to get creative in order to attract new workers lately, and teachers unions say school districts need to do the same.

“We do have to recognize that some districts have settled very fine contracts and in a time of a teacher shortage it is important for those districts that are still looking to settle recognize that teachers now have more options,” said Keith Gambill, president of the Indiana State Teachers Association.

Anderson Schools have been in tense negotiations with the Anderson Federation of Teachers and nearly 20% of the district’s teachers called off Wednesday and the district was forced to close.

Anderson Community Schools closed due to excessive amount of staff absences

Westfield Washington Schools was able to avoid a similar fate by ratifying a new contract with the teacher’s union on Tuesday.

The new contract includes increasing the starting salary for a new teacher from $43,150 to $45,000. It also includes increased parental and adoption leave, retirement incentives for cashing out sick days and increased funds set aside for healthcare benefits.

“Our teachers are incredible, hard-working professionals and we want to get the most possible
for them out of a settlement,” said Westfield Classroom Teachers Association President Chris Sluder in a statement. “We deeply value the continued positive working relationship that we have with our administration. It’s because of this relationship that we can come to a quick settlement that benefits all parties.”

Other districts have made similar moves.

Noblesville Schools said in a statement that it gave teachers a “large” pay increase to keep their salaries competitive. The district also said it has provided professional development opportunities and safety and mental health enhancements.

Several parents that spoke with FOX59 say they support the teachers over the district when it comes to pay and benefits.

“I definitely don’t think teachers are asking for too much,” said grandmother Mashariki Jywanza. “Their salaries, their benefits should say what they’re asking for so that of course we can retain good teachers because our children just really need it.”

The state teachers association says teachers just want to make the building they work in the best that they can.

“At the end of the day I hope that everyone recognizes that the folks who are sitting down at the table, at least from our side, are coming to the table and wanting to bargain a contract that they know will honor those employees in a way that will keep them within that district so that they can provide the best education for the students that are there,” Gambill said.

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