President George W. Bush was still in office the last time South Bend teachers received a raise. That changed somewhat Monday night when the school board approved a new contract for the district's nearly 1,365 instructors.
The new contract includes a one-time stipend of $1,150 per employee. It's not permanent because there's not enough money to handle a full-fledged raise. All-in-all, the payout will total $1,569,740, paid for using the district’s fund balance, similar to a personal saving’s account.
“We’re sending the message to our teachers that we value what they do. While we agree it's not the amount we’d hope or like to give, it is within the parameters of what we can do right now,” Superintendent Dr. Carole Schmidt said.
However, the stipend is exclusive to South Bend teachers, leaving staff positions like secretaries, cafeteria workers and paraprofessionals at a stagnant pay rate. NewsCenter 16 spoke with one staff member who said she hasn't seen a wage increase in ten years.
“They can't make it, they are going to lose their homes; they can't even eat. It is not fair, we need a raise,” one support staff member said during Monday’s meeting.
“We'll move on to other groups. This was just the first one and I don't want to leave the impression that's all we are going to do. We will spread it across the other groups as well,” Dr. Schmidt added.
Thanks to a recent financial agreement, the school corporation and South Bend Police Department will split the cost of some school resource officers. Eric Crittendon, a veteran police officer and newly appointed emergency preparedness coordinator, said the new deal will not only free-up extra funds for the district's security enforcement budget, but improve communication as well.
“I’m talking improvement with school security as far as cameras, as far as procedures, as far as training for security officers within the schools. We are trying to move toward that 21st Century type improvement,” Crittendon remarked.
If you'd like to review the school board's newly drafted game plan for yourself, just click on the Big Red Bar. You're then encouraged to attend a focus group meeting in Nov. where you can express your feelings about the district's future.