South Bend teachers upset about lack of pay increases
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - South Bend teachers say they want the school corporation to pay up.
A referendum raised millions of dollars from increased property taxes, but teachers claim the corporation is backpedaling on promised pay raises from that money.
The president of South Bend’s teachers union says they met for contract negotiations last week and were told no money from the referendum would go to teacher salaries.
“This corporation has told us they are not committing any referendum money to teacher salaries...The first question we asked is: What percentage of the referendum money are you dedicating to teacher raises? The answer was nothing,” said Linda Lucy, President of NEA-South Bend.
Those with the corporation, however, say they are fulfilling their promise.
“We’ve already committed to 3.1 million dollars and we are currently at the negotiating table now and with the offers that we have put in now, we will far succeed our commitment to the public,” said Kareemah Fowler with the South Bend Community School Corporation.
Last year, taxpayers voted to approve a referendum that included $20.8 million a year for eight years to pay for things like pay increases for teachers.
“The referendum was to fill a property-tax gap, which was the circuit breaker gap, which has gone up 12.5, then 14.1 now 17.7 and if you are slated for $20 million what do you have left after that?...In 2020, we did an early open with the union in October of 2020, and we were not going to get the referendum until this past July, so what we did is we opened early and we fronted the money out of our reserve because we knew the referendum was coming,” Fowler said.
“July 1, 2021 was when they could touch the money. What percentage of that referendum was going to be allocated to teacher salaries? The answer was none,” said Lucy.
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