SYRACUSE — For the first time in five years, teachers within the Wawasee Community School Corp. will be getting a pay raise. During a special meeting of the Wawasee school board Tuesday evening, Sept. 22, in Syracuse the board approved a 3.5 percent increase to the base salary for teachers.
Classified, or non teaching, employees and administrators will get the same 3.5 percent increase in pay. Terms of the agreement, negotiated with the Wawasee Community Education Association, are retroactive to the beginning of the 2015-16 school year.
“We wish we could do more,” noted Dr. Tom Edington, WCSC superintendent. He added with the exception of a couple of federal stipends, employees have had no pay raise the last five years. Mary Lou Dixon, school board member, said the raise will help those employees on the lower end of the pay scale very little and wishes more could be done. “We really need those employees too,” she commented.
The agreement is for one year and is considered a transition year. Beginning with the 2016-17 school year, the state will become more involved in negotiations with teachers. Edington said that will mean salaries for teachers will be based at least in part on standardized testing scores.
In other business, the board approved entering into a one year agreement with Akeso Care Management Inc., a medical services company. Jim Evans, director of finance, said the agreement will involve school corporation employees who have health care insurance and would be needing some type of a medical procedure, such as a surgery or hip replacement, etc., with the exception of emergencies.
Evans said those employees will be required to call Akeso to get information on all of the options available. Sometimes the same procedure can be done at a lower cost elsewhere. The intent of entering the agreement, he said, is to reduce health insurance expenses and he noted other school corporations have had success.
Evans stressed employees will not be required to choose the recommendations of Akeso. “They can still choose to do the procedure however they want to,” he said.
Wawasee will pay Akeso somewhere between $400 and $500 per month for the service, he said. Some board members questioned how much health care costs can really be saved by entering the agreement and whether the monthly cost can be offset. Evans said “I can’t predict the future,” but other school corporations have seen a reduction in costs.
After one year the agreement will be evaluated and the board will decide then whether or not to continue the service.
The board also approved a policy dealing with drones and model aircrafts. School corporation attorney James Flecker said he received an email from athletic director Steve Wiktorowski saying drones are becoming more of a problem at athletic events.
Drones or model aircrafts, or unmanned aircraft systems, are regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration and also state law. Wawasee’s policy will require any employee or student who wishes to operate an unmanned aircraft as part of their school employment or as part of a certified program to first receive written permission by the superintendent, then obtain a certificate of waiver or authorization issued by the FAA.
The aircraft shall not used to monitor or record areas where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy such as restrooms, dressing rooms, lockers and more.