Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

After Majority Of Districts Settle Contracts, Negotiations Continue For Some Teachers

The statehouse's reflection shines in the windows of the building housing the Indiana State Teachers Association, the state's largest teachers union.

The statehouse's reflection shines in the windows of the building housing the Indiana State Teachers Association, the state's largest teachers union.

Most of the Indiana school districts negotiating new teacher contracts this school year reached agreements in advance of an Oct. 1 deadline.

But at least one of the 19 school districts that could not reach an on-time agreement with local teachers is headed to mandatory factfinding, during which a representative from the Indiana Education Employment Relations Board will impose a settlement. A hearing for the Jay School Corporation has been set for next week.

IEERB Director of Conciliation Chris Greisl says of the other 18 school corporations that reached impasse, at least one has agreed on a contract with local teachers. He says there’s still time for the rest to reach a settlement during mediation without having someone from the state settle the matter.

The state’s new timeline for collective bargaining has been in the spotlight in recent months after last year’s contract negotiations in Carmel spilled into this school year. Teachers taught for all of 2012-13 without a contract before a factfinder imposed the school district’s final offer in September.

But even that didn’t settle the matter. As Eric Weddle reports for the Indianapolis Star, the Carmel Clay Education Association is in the process of appealing the IEERB factfinder’s decision:

The Carmel Clay teachers union has filed an appeal temporarily blocking the school district from implementing a contract for the 2012-13 school year.

The move comes a month after a state-appointed fact-finder chose the district’s last best offer over a contract proposed by the Carmel Clay Education Association. Leaders at Carmel, a district with the state’s highest ISTEP scores, hoped that would end a yearlong standoff between the two groups.

Because of financial disagreements, an unfair labor practice complaint and a related appeal, more than a year passed from the ratification deadline of the 2012-13 contract. Without an agreement, teacher benefits and pay have continued as stipulated in the previous contract.

In the appeal filed Friday, the teachers union asserts that the district’s contract violates state law because it does not include a salary schedule that provides step salary increases based on a teacher’s experience in the classroom and education level.

Needless to say, with the 2012-13 contract still under dispute, Carmel Clay teachers don’t have a 2013-14 contract either.

It’s the first year a majority of Indiana school districts have had to negotiate under new collective bargaining rules for teachers. Schools could bargain one- or two-year agreements with local teachers unions. Districts and teachers used to be able to negotiation longer contracts, but now they must expire before the biennium ends June 30, 2015.

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