HANCOCK COUNTY — Teachers at each public school corporation in Hancock County will see a bump in pay this school year, according to collective bargaining agreements for the four districts.
With the future of school funding on the minds of many Hoosier educators, districts and their teacher associations have until Nov. 15 to ratify teacher contracts for the 2019-20 school year. This year, a new state law lengthened the collective bargaining process, requiring multiple public hearings at meetings.
A GOP spending plan the Indiana General Assembly passed in April increased school funding by 2.5% each of the next two years. But an analysis provided by Democrats shows the plan increases traditional school funding by about 2% a year, while charter schools will see 10% more money and private school voucher funding goes up 9% the first budget year and about 5.5% the second year.
Indiana’s two-year budget also doesn’t require schools to use the funding boost on teacher pay.
The state needs to approve teacher evaluations before the pay raises go into effect. And that’s dependent on state lawmakers who also have to approve a “hold harmless” measure on the disappointing ILEARN standardized test scores and school accountability grades. Thousands of Hoosier teachers plan to attend a Red for Ed rally on Nov. 19 at the Statehouse to urge for better funding and also improved public school conditions.
Salary increases for Hancock County’s districts range between about $1,500 and $2,500. The Southern Hancock School Board ratified its contract with teachers on Oct. 28, and school boards for Greenfield-Central, Eastern Hancock and Mt. Vernon plan to ratify contracts on Monday, Nov. 11.
Here’s a summary of each agreement:
Todd Grimes, chief negotiator for the Greenfield-Central Classroom Teachers’ Association’s collective bargaining agreement, said many teachers were pleased with the negotiations and pay adjustment.
Teachers who received a “highly effective” or “effective” evaluation rating will see a salary bump of $2,124 this school year and a $2,026 increase in 2020-21. Grimes said the teachers’ association chose to agree to a two-year contract so the salary is already set in place for next school year.
The starting salary range for Greenfield-Central teachers also eclipsed $40,000; the former starting pay was $39,653. Now, teachers can make between $41,000 and $71,000 this school year, and between $42,000 and $73,026 in 2020-21. Those with master’s degrees have a higher pay scale amount.
Health insurance premiums for teachers will also lessen this year, despite an overall premium increase for the district, he said. That’s because the school board approved a higher corporation contribution.
Grimes said the teachers’ association is proud of the partnership it has built with Superintendent Harold Olin and the rest of the central office staff and the Greenfield-Central School Board.
“We’ve worked real hard to develop a positive, open relationship, and we really look forward to keeping those lines of communication open in future years,” Grimes said.
Olin said the administration wanted to increase the starting salary to maintain competitiveness in central Indiana as well as ensuring veteran teachers also see “consistent” pay raises.
“We highly value our teachers, and we wanted this contract to communicate this,” Olin said.
The tentative agreement between the Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation and the Mt. Vernon Classroom Teachers’ Association calls for a 1% increase to the salary schedule. That sets the base salary for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree at $38,968; the maximum pay for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree is $78,748, and the highest pay for one with a master’s degree is $80,788. All teachers not new to the district with either a “highly effective” or “effective” evaluation rating from last year will move to a higher level in the schedule. Levels will differentiate by $1,020, an increase of $10 from last year’s contract.
Qualifying teachers will also receive a one-time $500 stipend, the contract states.
Teachers whose placement on the salary schedule does not reflect their total years of experience will receive a one-time stipend of $335. Chris Smedley, assistant superintendent for Mt. Vernon, said at a school board meeting on Nov. 4 that the stipend shows the corporation’s appreciation of those teachers’ dedication. He added the corporation intends to work with the classroom teachers’ association on catching up those teachers on the salary scale in years to come.
Jack Parker, Mt. Vernon superintendent, said the agreement, which also includes some insurance changes, results in a 3.95% average pay increase.
Desiray Scalf, president of Mt. Vernon’s classroom teachers’ association, told the Daily Reporter in an email that the tentative agreement is the best both sides could achieve given the state budget.
Kent Gish, president of Southern Hancock’s Classroom Teachers Association, said this year’s one-year contract didn’t change too much from the prior year. The biggest difference impacted the stipends for many coaches of athletic teams. Gish said coaches and assistant coaches made less than most schools in the Hoosier Heritage Conference. Now, those stipends fall more in line with those at other schools for the first time in many years.
For example, the varsity football coach stipend increased from $9,282 to $12,200, while the varsity girls basketball coach’s compensation also increased by the same amount.
Starting teacher salaries also increased to $45,800 for educators with bachelor’s degrees and $48,800 for those with master’s degrees. The maximum salary a Southern Hancock teacher can make is $82,400, according to the collective bargaining agreement. The district has the highest teacher pay in the county.
“At Southern Hancock we’re blessed to have a good administration that supports us, and we have great parents that are behind us, too,” Gish said. “It makes the process smooth and not something that we dread or that turns into a big headache. It’s always worked nicely for us. We’re pretty happy at Southern Hancock.”
Gish said teachers on average will receive a $2,000 pay increase. Some will receive a little less or little more depending on years of experience and their “effective” or “highly effective” evaluations.
Superintendent Lisa Lantrip said the contract continues to keep Southern Hancock near the top of the state in teacher salaries. According to an IndyStar database of 2017-18 school year salaries, the corporation ranked fourth in the state for average salary and also for starting pay.
“I am thankful for the strong relationship the administration has with our teachers and the teachers’ association,” Lantrip said. “I appreciate the hard work our teachers do each day and we are pleased this contract can reward them.”
For Eastern Hancock teachers this year, many will receive salary increases between $2,335 and $2,458, said Dana Allen, president of the Eastern Hancock Educators Association. That range depends on whether a teacher receives an “effective” or “highly effective” evaluation, respectively.
The district’s salary range also increased, from a starting pay of $35,000 to $37,500 for this school year. The maximum salary is $72,835. Allen said the educators association and administration made a “conscious decision” this year to increase the starting salary. Eastern Hancock’s pay range falls near the bottom of Hancock County schools. Eastern Hancock also has the smallest enrollment.
Other than the salary changes, Allen said the one-year contract had minor tweaks in language and increased stipends for extracurricular activity instructors and additional money for health insurance.
Allen, who’s in her first year as president of the educators association, said teachers had “cordial” and “positive” collective bargaining negotiations with first-year superintendent and longtime Eastern Hancock administrator Dave Pfaff.
“We love and respect Dave Pfaff and felt very respected by the process this year,” Allen said.
Pfaff told the Daily Reporter that the administration worked toward transparency with teachers about the corporation’s finances to keep salaries competitive and meet the needs of the educators association.
“With such a teacher shortage that all schools are experiencing, it is imperative that we remain attractive economically, academically and keep a great school culture,” Pfaff said. “We have a tremendous staff here and we must do all we can to keep and develop our people and to attract great new staff when we need to hire.”
The Daily Reporter’s Mitchell Kirk contributed to this report. The Associated Press also contributed.
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Here is a summary of 2019-20 teacher salary ranges among Hancock County districts. This includes teachers with both bachelor’s degrees and/or master’s degrees.
Mt. Vernon: $38,986-$80,788
Southern Hancock: $45,800-$82,400
Eastern Hancock: $37,500-$72,835
Source: Collective bargaining agreements