Some teachers at Pike Township say they no longer support the superintendent even as the union and district leaders reached a tentative agreement on a new contract.
Thursday the school board unanimously approved a resolution to increase its collective bargaining proposal by freeing up an additional money for educator compensation. This follows numerous parent-led protests and classroom learning disruptions in response to the demand for higher teacher compensation.
Pike schools were forced into remote learning between four and six times — depending on the number of instructional staff at their school due to a bus driver and instructional staff shortages. School was also canceled for one day for all students.
No confidence vote for superintendent
During public comment, Pike teachers association’s president Chris Ludy said "99 percent" of union members who attended a recent meeting approved a vote of no confidence in Superintendent Flora Reichanadter.
Ludy declined to say how many members were present for the vote. He said the union had a quorum, or the minimum number of members needed to hold a vote, which was at least 50 percent of their members plus one person.
The district did not comment on the union’s vote of no confidence in Reichanadter, who did not attend the board meeting.
Around 10 other people spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting, specifically asking for the district to increase teacher and staff pay.
Wallace Flowers, an instructional assistant at Pike Township, said he knows of at least six people who have already given the district their two weeks notice, including himself.
“As I previously stated, who would want to work for a company who has substandard pay; no benefits, retirement or upward mobility,” Flowers said about his position. “Since you refuse to increase our pay, my wife has to stay home and work more hours to compensate for what you won’t give us instead of coming here tonight to support myself and all of the other staff members.”
Before the meeting ended, each school board member provided comments that spoke to their commitment to serving Pike Township. Board member Veronica Ford shared her family’s history with Pike. As a former employee of the district and the mother of two Pike graduates, Ford said she’s proud to represent Pike Township
“Please understand that our commitment as board members is to do everything and do our due diligence for you,” Ford said. “We have no reason to not provide you with the best pay that we can afford at the time. We have no reason to not try to provide you with an atmosphere of dignity.”
The Pike Classroom Teachers Association began mediation with the school district on Nov. 16 after they failed to reach an agreement by the state deadline for teacher contract negotiations.
Last month the district offered the teachers union $2.3 million, or an average of 4.6 percent, in pay increases. But PCTA rejected that offer because they say those increases don’t benefit “middle year teachers,” or teachers with roughly five to 25 years of experience.
Parents, students and community leaders have since come out in support of the union by participating in PCTA’s protests, speaking up at board meetings and even starting a petition demanding the resignation of Superintendent Reichanadter.
The resolution, next steps
The resolution allows the district to use up to $7 million from its education fund to pay for a portion of its teacher salaries in the proposed one-year contract. Full details on the new proposal have not been publicly released.
The district has now reached a tentative agreement with the teachers union, and will begin the contract ratification process. Next, the union needs to ratify the agreement. The school board is required to hold two public hearings before it approves the contract.
Pike Township board members are scheduled to hold a special board meeting Dec. 13 and Dec. 16.