INDIANAPOLIS — The Metropolitan School District of Pike Township is closed Wednesday due to staff absences.
A post on superintendent Dr. Flora J. Reichanadter’s Twitter page said the district will not offer in-person, virtual, or remote instruction due to the “current number of instructional staff absences.”
This comes as negotiations continue between the Pike TWP Schools administration and the Pike Classroom Teachers Association, or PCTA, on a new collective bargaining agreement.
When school gets cancelled unexpectedly, it leads to a chaotic morning for Melissa Anderson. She and her husband have two kids at Pike schools.
”It ends up with either me or my husband having to take some time off,” Anderson said.
It also means a conversation with her kids about why they’re not going to school.
”They say, ‘Why wont they treat the teachers better?’” Anderson said.
That is the frustration for Anderson and many other Pike parents and students. For the last month, there have been multiple rallies to support teachers as the PCTA negotiates a new deal.
”They have not moved in their offer in over a month,” said Chris Ludy, the president of the PCTA
Ludy said they’re at a stalemate with the Pike TWP School Board and administration. He said the offer on the table is not up to par with other area school systems. Even if he did accept the offer, he said it would never get past the members.
”I think our membership would simply look at that and go ‘But that’s lower than everybody’s so why would we accept that.’” he said.
Ludy also said time is running out. If no deal is agreed to by Monday, Nov. 15, there will be a mediator sent from the state to help the two sides come to a deal. This could take months longer.
”We want this to end as much, if not more, than anybody,” Ludy said. “We simply are fighting and asking for a fair contract that brings us in line or at least in reach with neighboring districts.”
All this, Ludy said, seems to have lead to teachers calling out today.
”To me it was caused by the toxic administration created for the staff,” he said. “The PCTA in no way coordinated what happened today, I didn’t even know it happened until I woke up to get ready for school this morning.”
With no movement toward a competitive deal, Jennifer Rubenstein, another Pike parent, is afraid good teachers will leave.
”Why would they stay if they’re not being paid or given the recognition the way that they should be?” Rubenstein said.
Ludy is worried about the same thing.
“We’re going to start seeing districts that have addressed this pay issue, they’re going to start stealing teachers away from Pike,” he said.
Recently, other districts have agreed to deals with their teachers, so why hasn’t Pike?
”That’s a good question,” Ludy said. “It boils down to our administration’s willingness to reach a deal.”
In response to an interview request, Pike Township Schools sent back a statement.
“We are still in negotiations with our teacher association and therefore it would not be appropriate to discuss the matter beyond the comments we have already provided at this time.”
Ludy is encouraging parents who support Pike Township teachers to come out to the Pike Township School Board meeting Thursday night and voice their support to the board.
The missed school day is set to be made up on March 25.