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KTA, Kokomo Schools reach contract agreement

New two-year contract includes salary/wage increases for all staff, good attendance bonuses

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A new, two-year agreement for Kokomo School Corporation teachers was reached last week.

All qualifying teachers, who received an “effective” or “highly effective” rating on their evaluations, will see an increase in their pay. In 2018-2019, a beginning teacher received $35,350 under the two-year contract that expired June 30, 2019. For the 2019-2020 school year, a beginning teacher will receive $35,850 for 2019-2020. All qualified teachers will receive an increment, plus additional monetary increases between $125 to $500.

During the second year (2020-2021) of the contract, all qualified teachers will receive an increment, plus an additional increase of $150 for new teachers and those teachers with more than 20 years of effectiveness. Additional educational attainment can increase that raise amount for either year, or both years, of the contract.

The new teacher compensation package gives an average increase of 2.6 percent for the first year of the contract, and 2 percent for the second year.

In a separate salary recommendation from Superintendent Dr. Jeff Hauswald, raises were approved for classified employees and administrators as well. The compensation package approved by the Board includes a 2 percent salary/wage increase for eligible classified employees beginning Feb. 9, 2020, and an additional 2 percent salary/wage increase for eligible classified employees beginning Feb. 7, 2021.

As part of the same recommendation, a 1 percent administrative salary increase was approved for the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years. The increases will be paid to all qualified administrators as a stipend during the school year and then added to the base salary the succeeding year. An additional 1 percent stipend was approved for all qualified administrators during both the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 contractual years.

Also for administrators, in exchange for slight changes to the bereavement leave language, an additional 0.5 percent increase to the corporation’s 401(a) match both years of the contract was approved.

Board President Cristi Brewer-Allen was pleased that all employees were receiving raises.

“This board appreciates how very hard our teachers, our classified employees, and our administrators work on behalf of the children in Kokomo Schools,” Brewer-Allen said. “The Board is happy that we can say ‘thank you’ to all staff members by providing pay increases. Our employees help make Kokomo an outstanding place to raise a family.

“I do hope in the future that our legislators will properly fund public education so our Board can give our teachers and staff members raises in the amount that we believe they truly deserve.”

Superintendent Hauswald believes the pay increases for 2019 through 2021 are a recognition of the work the teachers and staff do on a daily basis.

“We recognize the tremendous work being done by all Kokomo School Corporation employees,” Hauswald said. “Today’s teacher contract and the previous compensation recommendation for all other employees are one way we can thank them for their hard work.

“Insufficient State funding for public education is limiting increases to staff salaries. The continued trend of Hoosier teacher salaries falling below national levels, while continuing to grow at a rate that trails the other 49 states, was apparent throughout this bargaining process. Educators’ attention now turns to the Statehouse, where funding shortages for public schools must be addressed!”

KTA President Nicole Mundy noted that the KTA was pleased with the new agreement, especially considering the outside forces at play in the bargaining process.

“I am happy KSC and KTA were able to reach the best possible agreement given the financial circumstances imposed by our State lawmakers,”Mundy said. “Legislation at the state level, as well as IEERB (Indiana Education Employment Relations Board), continue to make it increasingly difficult for local school corporations and teachers’ unions to negotiate their contracts.

“I am proud of KTA members for their active and vocal advocacy for the students and teachers of Kokomo Schools during negotiations. Now that our contract has been approved, we can focus on securing appropriate funding for our students, classrooms, teachers, and schools from our state lawmakers. It is my hope that by working together, teachers, administrators, and community members can ensure that all students and schools have the resources needed to be successful.”

For Kokomo Schools, this bargaining period, which was open from Sept. 15 through Nov. 15, marked the third time the teachers’ contract could not exceed two years and that only wages and wage-related benefits could be negotiated. Additionally, under current Indiana law, all compensation packages for certified staff must be based on performance.

For all employees, the board also approved a recommendation for the corporation to increase its contribution toward the group medical insurance plan by $50 for the single plan and $100 for all other plans for calendar year 2020 and by an additional $50 for the single plan and by an additional $100 for all other plans for calendar year 2021.

Included in the new teacher agreement is an increase to the optional “good attendance” bonus. For each school year of the two-year contract, teachers who miss zero days can request that the corporation place $1,400 (up from $1,200) in their 401(a) retirement account. New to this teacher contract is a provision that allows teachers, who miss one day, to request that the corporation place $1,000 in their 401(a) retirement account. These amounts are paid by the corporation and are in addition to the 1.5 percent 401(a) match already offered to current certified staff.

Hauswald noted that if the corporation does not have to pay for substitutes for a particular teacher, the corporation wanted to use the money it would have spent on subs to invest in that teacher’s future.

In a related matter, substitute teacher pay rates will be increased by $5 per day, effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Teachers’ salaries will be adjusted to the new pay scale by the end of February 2020. All other pay enhancements, including stipends for administrators and classified employees, will occur after teachers’ salaries are adjusted.