ANCOCK COUNTY — Under newly approved teaching contracts, some Hancock County educators will see pay raises for the first time in years.

After a series of budget cuts forced three of the county’s four school districts to freeze pay for several years, all teachers who receive positive evaluations will see pay increases for the 2015-16 school year. Some school officials say they’re trying to make up for lost time by offering raises to employees who stuck through the period of stagnation; others are focusing raises on newer employees in an effort to attract young professionals to their districts.

Supporting the staff

All teachers from Mt. Vernon School Corp. will make at least $34,300 — about a 9 percent increase — under a new agreement that was approved unanimously by the school board.All Mt. Vernon educators who receive high ratings from the district for their classroom performance, which encompasses student performance on state-mandated tests and evaluations from administrators, will receive pay increases of approximately $1,435.The pay raises will apply to the current school year, although teachers won’t see boosts to their paychecks until the Indiana Department of Education releases school letter grades. Administrators are waiting for the results from last spring’s ISTEP+ exams before approving raises.

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Marisa Cocokios, who’s in her second year teaching eighth-grade history at Mt. Vernon Middle School, said she’s encouraged by the district’s effort to support its faculty.

“I think it shows that Mt. Vernon is willing to invest in its employees,” Cocokios said. “It could make the district more desirable to teachers who are looking for jobs.”

Shane Robbins, who was selected as superintendent of Mt. Vernon schools last spring, said one of his first priorities was to raise teacher salaries. Previously, he said, the district’s pay scale wasn’t competitive with surrounding school corporations, which drove away qualified job candidates and offered little incentive for employees looking to cultivate long-term careers.

“We want to show our teachers that we appreciate all they’re doing; the longer you can hold on to the teachers you have, the better they can become,” Robbins said.

Base boost

Greenfield-Central School Corp. approved a two-year contract with its teachers union that guarantees consecutive raises for educators who receive positive ratings.Between 2011 and 2014, the district froze pay increases to its teachers because of a significant drop in state funding, Superintendent Harold Olin said.Teachers saw a slight pay raise during the 2014-15 school year, Olin said, but this school year’s increases promise an average of $1,240 to teachers with bachelor’s degrees and $1,675 to those with master’s degrees.

The district’s teachers association also negotiated raises for the 2016- 2017 school year, hammering out an average pay increase of $1,362 for educators with bachelor’s degrees and $2,477 for those with master’s degrees.

The district also lifted its base salaries for teachers with bachelor’s degrees from $33,674 to $36,154, a 7 percent boost. Base salaries for teachers with master’s degrees experienced a similar hike, from $37,083 to $39,999.

Christy Hilton, assistant superintendent for the district, said she anticipates the increase might entice some young educators to consider starting a career with the corporation. In recent years, she said, she’s noticed a significant drop in the number of qualified candidates applying for open positions, a trend school districts have experienced statewide.

The Indiana Department of Education released data in September showing that the number of licenses issued to teachers, school administrators and support staff have fallen 21 percent since the 2013-14 school year.

Hilton, who also acts as human resources manager, said when she heads to job fairs at nearby universities in the spring to recruit new teachers, she’ll feel more confident than in years past touting the district’s pay scale.

The previous salary scale left some teachers uncertain about when specifically they could expect to see raises, Hilton said.

“We want our teachers to feel confident that Greenfield-Central will continue to support them,” Hilton said. “Now, there will be no question about what they’ll make.”

Bouncing back

Shelley Goe, payroll manager for Eastern Hancock School Corp., said teachers who receive a positive report from administrators will receive on average about a 3 percent salary increase. The district’s base starting salary will remain the same at $35,000, she said.Mark Fuson, vice president of the New Palestine Classroom Teachers Association, said he’s happy with the agreement the association reached with Southern Hancock School Corp. administrators this year, which also guarantees raises to all well-reviewed employees.The new contract calls for a 3 per- cent boost to the district’s base salary, bringing it to $40,000 for teachers with bachelor’s degrees and $43,000 for those with master’s degrees. Those starting salaries are the highest in Hancock County.

Fuson, a technology integration specialist at New Palestine High School, has worked for the district for 15 years, including a period from 2003 to 2010 when his salary was frozen.

Still, Fuson said, he’s been encouraged by the flexibility district administrators have demonstrated in recent years by approving incremental raises since 2011.

“We took our beatings for a number of years, but it’s really impressive how (administrators) have found a way to continue rewarding us over the past couple years,” Fuson said.

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  • Greenfield-Central School Corp. approved a two-year teaching contract, promising educators who receive positive reviews will receive an average $1,240 raise for employees with bachelor’s degrees and $1,675 for those with master’s degrees for the current school year. The district also guaranteed raises for the 2016-2017 school year, hammering out an average pay increase of $1,362 for educators with bachelor’s degrees and $2,477 for those with master’s degrees.
  • Mt. Vernon School Corp. raised its base salary from $31,300 to $34,300. Teachers who receive positive ratings will receive an average salary increase of $1,435.
  • Southern Hancock School Corp. raised its base salary for teachers with bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees to $40,000 and $43,000, respectively, up about 3 percent. The district also earmarked $350,000 for pay raises to all teachers who receive positive reviews.
  • Eastern Hancock School Corp. is promising teachers about a 3 percent average increase and has allotted about $97,000 for its teachers who receive high ratings.