By Tim Ashley
SYRACUSE — Several months ago, during the spring, a significant teacher pay raise simply was not part of the plan for the Wawasee Community School Corporation. Especially considering staff had been reduced and some programs cut.
But during a special Wawasee School Board meeting Thursday evening, Nov. 4, in Syracuse, Dr. Stephen Troyer, superintendent, reported to the board the average base pay increase for teachers across the board will be about 10.04% in the tentative 2021-22 teacher collective bargaining agreement.
Troyer said almost a complete overhaul was done of the master contract between the school corporation and the Wawasee Community Educators Association after several meetings and conversations. Some stipends were added and a new salary schedule put in place that will increase the range of pay for teachers from $37,500-$68,800 up to $40,000-$70,000. Pay is based on experience level as well as whether the teacher has a bachelor’s or master’s college degree.
Teachers with 20 or more years of experience will also get a $2,000 one-time stipend. There is also a $1,000 stipend for attendance, a $1,000 stipend for AP or dual credit course teachers and a $250 stipend for teachers who have remained in the school corporation for at least six years.
Troyer said a 10% raise is possible because the state funding formula for education increased and $1.9 billion more was put toward public K-12 education in the spring. As of July 1, Wawasee received a $1.2 million increase in education funding. Also, Wawasee had an increase of about 50 students in its average daily membership compared to February 2021 and reduced expenses by the elimination of 10 staff positions and cutting some programs.
He said a 10% increase is quite significant considering in most recent years a 2% or 3% increase was given or in some years there was no increase and only a stipend was given.
The tentative agreement will be voted on by the board during the regular monthly meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 9, in the Warrior Room at Wawasee High School. Public comments will be accepted at that time. The tentative agreement can be seen under “public notices” on the home page at wawasee.k12.in.us.
In other business, as was done last year, the board approved making the two days prior to the Thanksgiving break (Nov. 22-23 this year) eLearning days due to a recent increase in the number of students in quarantine due to COVID, especially for Milford School and Wawasee Middle School. Extracurricular activities will still be held.
And new board member Andy Cripe was officially sworn in by James Flecker, director of personnel and legal services for the school corporation.