ANDERSON — On Thursday, bargaining teams representing Anderson Community Schools and the Anderson Federation of Teachers met for a session with a state-appointed mediator to continue bargaining.
After the nearly 10-hour session, the teams recessed and will continue mediation at 10 a.m. Monday.
AFT President Randy Harrison said the two sides have agreed not to share many details until after Monday’s session.
Since 2011, teacher salaries in Indiana have stagnated due to state laws that were put into effect, Harrison said.
“A lot of our teachers have been locked on a salary scale for about five years,” Harrison said. “2015 was the last time a teacher could go up in an increment, and it was the last time they could get their masters degree to be placed in a master’s column, according to state law changes.”
Harrison explained that over the past five years, the AFT has not been able to bargain substantial base increases in teacher salary.
“Teachers that have been here awhile are starting to look to go to other districts so they can pick up their years of service and if they did earn a masters degree since they’ve been with us, they can more than likely go on a master’s column as well in other districts,” Harrison said.
Harrison said that teachers feel that the COVID-19 relief funds could be used to focus on educators. While they agree that the funds were used for necessary things, their position is that leftover money should go to educators.
“Our teachers haven’t received a COVID hazard stipend yet,” Harrison said. “Other districts have.”
Harrison said teachers have noticed that other districts have settled on attractive base pay increases, while the offers that were given from ACS were not attractive early on in the bargaining process.
“That stagnation combined with the influx of dollars that we feel are available to assist with teachers and their (ACS) earlier offers were really not reflective of what we thought was available in terms of funding,” Harrison said.
Ashley Loffer, a kindergarten teacher at Erskine Elementary, said ACS has worked hard to get good starting pay for teachers, but those who choose to stay with ACS must be compensated better.
On Monday, teachers, parents and community members will meet 20 minutes before school start times outside the school buildings to rally support for ACS teachers.
“We will be out there every day until a settlement is decided upon and will be in red,” Loffer said. “It’s just is a symbol of our unity.”
Rallies at the secondary school buildings will begin at 7:10 a.m.; rallies at the primary school buildings will start at 8:30 a.m.
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