Clearing up how SBCSC will fund teacher raises as contract negotiations reach impasse

Published: Nov. 10, 2021 at 6:16 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) -The South Bend Community School Corporation and The NEA-South Bend representing the teachers are at an impasse when negotiating contracts.

Union leaders say administrators are not setting any money aside from the referendum for teacher pay bumps.

“What portion of the referendum money are you dedicating to teacher raises? We finally got ‘none,’ ‘nothing’,” said NEA-South Bend President Linda Lucy.

She isn’t entirely wrong, but that also doesn’t mean South Bend teachers aren’t getting any raises. The school corporation says the raises are real, but due to restrictions public school systems have on certain funding sources, referendum dollars aren’t technically paying for them.

The SBCSC Chief Financial Officer Kareemah Fowler explained that there is an operational account and an educational account, the latter has money to pay for raises.

The educational fund is mostly state funding, and school districts are allowed to transfer a small portion of that into operations allowing state funding to cover some of the operation costs.

The referendum can only go into operations, where it can’t be used to pay or increase pay for employees.

To work around this, South Bend Community Schools suggests they withhold some of the educational dollars that normally get transferred to operations, so they have educational funds to payout raises. Referendum dollars come in to make up the difference of those educational fund dollars withheld for raises that normally transfer into the operational fund.

That’s why Superintendent Dr. Todd Cummings says the SBCSC didn’t break their promise to provide raises to teachers in an interview on 16 News Now Wednesday Morning.

“There would be no teacher raises without the referendum. We’re grateful for folks who voted yes. We’re grateful for all the work of our teachers and our community folks, but without the referendum, there would be no teacher raises,” Dr. Cummings said.

He says their contract proposal not only offers these raises but also gives a little extra to certain teachers.

“Teachers who had their base salary frozen and are in between years 10 and 23, this offers a nearly $5,500 increase. We’re doing what the community asked us to do especially for those teachers stuck in the middle,” he said.

The SBCSC released their most recent proposal on Wedesday morning that detailed how teacher pay bumps would play out in this proposal.

The school corporation’s most recent proposal offered teachers a combination of pay increases and stipends over two years that rage based on experience.

Base salaries will start at $43,800, an $1,800 increase. That also comes with a $500 stipend and another base raise of $1,000 in year two.

Teachers with 1-3 years of experience get a $1,500 base pay increase in year two.

Those with 4-6 years get $2,300 base pay raises and a $500 stipend in year one, and pay bumps of $2,250 in year two.

It’s the same for those with 7-9 years of experience besides an additional $200 in their first-year pay raise.

Teachers with 10-23 years of experience would get the biggest salary bumps out of all the groups.

Teachers with more than 23 years of experience will see a total compensation match those in the group below them, but they’ll have some of their salary converted into part of their stipend.

“Without the referendum, we would be talking about how to cut nearly $17 million. There would be no raises on the table, and we certainly would not be making an $8.9 million investment in our teaching staff,” Dr. Cummings said.

State-wide teacher bargaining ends on Nov. 15th.

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