Teachers Union Wants "Down Payment" on Raises in 2020 Session


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Teachers Union Wants "Down Payment" on Raises in 2020 Session

ISTA says GOP plan to tackle pay in 2021 budget session will exacerbate flight from underfunded districts

(INDIANAPOLIS) - Indiana's largest teachers' union doesn't want a pay raise to wait till the next state budget,

The Indiana State Teachers Association is calling for 75-million dollars earmarked for teacher pay. It'd come from the same larger-than-expected $410 million surplus windfall Governor Holcomb has targeted for five construction projects. 

The proposed spending boost would raise teachers' paychecks an average of about 100 bucks a month. I-S-T-A president Keith Gambill calls it "a good-faith down payment" on more significant changes in 2021, when legislators write the state's next budget.

Gambill argues the state can't afford to wait for the next budget. While both parties have said teachers need a raise, Gambill says some districts offer "fantastic" pay packages, through a combination of collective bargaining and a more generous allocation from the state. But 60 school districts with declining enrollment saw their funding cut in the new budget, and Gambill says increases in about 90 more are less than the rate of inflation. He argues if legislators don't demonstrate they're serious about addressing the issue, many teachers will flee those districts for wealthier ones at the end of the school year, and make a teacher shortage worse.

Republican legislative leaders have been adamant they won't reopen the budget for spending which would become a permanent part of the budget -- only for one-time items like Holcomb's requests. The governor says his requests will save the state five-million dollars a year by eliminating the need to float bonds, and says that money could go toward school funding in future years.

And Holcomb says he's awaiting the recommendations of a commission he appointed to recommend long-term solutions to the teacher pay dilemma. That report isn't due until several weeks after legislators adjourn in March.

The ISTA's other two top priorities have Holcomb's endorsement. They want a mulligan on the first year of ILEARN scores, and the repeal of a new externship requirement. 

Over the long term, the ISTA wants legislators to revise the school funding formula, increase the number of guidance counselors, and decouple ILEARN scores from teacher pay. Holcomb has balked at cutting the connection between those scores and teachers' performance ratings, but House Republicans have said they intend to at least begin that discussion in the upcoming session. And Oldenburg Senator Jean Leising (R) has said she'll introduce a bill reducing the weight of test scores on pay calculations to 5%, even lower than what the ISTA has proposed.

(Photo: Eric Berman/WIBC)

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