Many schools across Indiana have finalized major teacher pay raises in recent weeks, and while some schools have struggled to strike a deal, most reached agreements with their educators before the state's deadline.
Indiana lawmakers earmarked funding specifically for teacher pay raises during the 2021 legislative session. State leaders said they expected schools to funnel those dollars to teachers after protests across the state and country – and the pandemic increased the workloads of educators everywhere.
Denny Costerison is the executive director of the Indiana Association of School Business Officials. He said schools have had to be careful not to build temporary COVID-19 relief funding into their budgets for the long-term.
"How do we make sure that we use these dollars as they were intended to be used, and then secondly, that we don't get ourselves into some issues that would probably hit us in the future – that may be even two, three, four years down the road," he said.
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Costerison said overall, Indiana schools have held up their end of the deal using the state funding approved this year for teacher pay.
"We're seeing a lot of very large percentage increases that we haven't seen for many many years," he said.
That includes Fort Wayne Community Schools, which is raising teacher salaries by 4 percent this year and next. Meanwhile, Greenwood Community School Corporation is raising base pay for teachers and support staff by 10 percent or more, after the pandemic disrupted raises last year.
But coming to a contract agreement hasn't been easy for everyone.
According to the Indiana Education Employee Relations Board, 15 school corporations didn't finalize their bargaining agreements by the state's deadline, and at least five of them have been appointed a state mediator.