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South Bend teachers oppose request for longer work days

Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 7:04 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - South Bend teachers continue to oppose a request to work more hours without more pay.

Teachers and supporters signaled their continued opposition as they gathered outside of Adams High where Monday night’s school board meeting is being held.

The administration recently backed off a plan to add 40 minutes to the teacher’s workday, four days a week, and is now seeking to add 40 minutes a day, two days a week.

“It rounds out to 46 hours over the period of the whole year of unpaid labor. That’s a whole week of work that we’ll be doing,” said Adam’s teacher Becky Hernandez. “That’s a nonstarter for me.”

The South Bend School Corporation Chief Academic officer told 16 News Now that the district’s teachers now work a seven-and-a-half-hour workday five days per week. “Right now, our final recommendations include a Tuesday-Thursday additional 40 minutes schedule and then our teachers will continue to a little less than a seven-and-a-half-hour workday on Mondays Wednesdays and Fridays Our teachers currently have one of the shortest workdays in the area,” said Brendan White.

“They’re just saying, ‘work the extra 40 minutes for no compensation.’ I know a lot of people that work a lot of hours for no compensation. I work every weekend. I work every night. And it’s because I want to change what I’m doing. Oh, if this lesson didn’t work I’m changing it to fit my students. I do that on my own time, and now you’re going to take 40-more minutes from me,” said Marshall Fourth Grade Teacher Anita Peters.

The additional time would allow teachers to collaborate, plan, and compare notes in the hopes of raising student achievement. “Our scores right now are some of the lowest achievement scores academically for our students, so what we realize as a district and as a community is we have to work differently,” said Brandon White.

The teacher workday issue was not on tonight’s school board agenda so the matter will have to be resolved in the future.

But there are many, many better ways to do it than have us give our time without being paid for it. We could start, have late start, late delayed start, we’ve got that planned. There are other districts that have an early release sometimes. When I started teaching, we had half days, now the state doesn’t let us do that anymore, but there are many other ways to do this,” said Hernandez.

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