The Vigo County Teachers Association and Vigo County School Board have reached a tentative agreement on a contract for the 2020-21 school year.
VCTA members ratified the tentative agreement Tuesday.
Among the provisions, there will be no base salary increase for the 2020-21 school year.
A stipend of $1,100 will be paid to all returning teachers [rated effective or highly effective] working or on paid status as of Nov. 27. This stipend will be paid by Dec. 11.
The School Board will conduct a special meeting at 10 a.m. Friday to discuss and receive input on the proposed agreement, as required by state law. That meeting must take place 72 hours prior to board ratification.
In other contract highlights:
• Medical insurance: VCSC will contribute an amount that is equal to the same percentage of the 2021 premiums as it did toward the 2020 premiums.
• Cash balance reconciliation stipend: If the 2020 year-end cash balance in the education, operations, and rainy day fund (combined) exceeds $16.5 million, teachers will receive an additional stipend by March 1. According to the agreement, 67% of any excess beyond $16.5 million will be split among teachers.
• Teachers who chose the high deductible health care plans will receive a contribution to their Health Savings Account: $400 for single, $600 for family.
• It provides an increase from five to 10 days for paid maternity/paternity leave.
• It increases paid adoption leave from five to 10 days.
• Recent contracts have rewarded teachers for additional degrees and hours with base pay increases. However, due to a decision by the Indiana Education Employment Relations Board [IEERB], the district is no longer able to do that. Those affected will receive stipends until VCTA and VCSC can determine how to reward teachers for additional degrees and hours.
The contract is posted on the Vigo County School Corp. website.
Among the reasons for no base increase is the district’s loss of more than 500 students this year, as well as uncertainty regarding whether the Legislature will fund virtual students at 85 percent or 100 percent, said Kim Fidler, Uniserv director with the Indiana State Teachers Association.
There has been concern about the potential for budget cuts, she said.
Fidler said in a follow up statement Tuesday, “The members of the Vigo County Teachers Association appreciate the collaborative manner in which we have bargained the 2020-2021 collective bargaining agreement with the Vigo County School Corp. administration. We appreciate the stipend payment for teachers and the contributions from the board to Health Savings Accounts and insurance premium increases.”
Both parties have worked to reach the best settlement possible while dealing with a restrictive timeline for bargaining and restrictions on what topics may be included in the contract due to laws passed by the Indiana legislature, she said.
To further exacerbate the problem, the IEERB (Indiana Education Employment Relations Board) audits each public school contract for compliance, Fidler said.
“It is quite possible that both sides can reach agreement on an issue, but be told that the item is noncompliant during an audit,” she said.
“This not only slows the process, but also prevents the parties from making local decisions and making progress in rewarding teachers for their hard work,” she said.
Due to COVID-19, teachers are working harder than ever to provide virtual and in-person instruction for students, Fidler said. “There are serious concerns about the upcoming legislative session and their funding of public schools.”
In Vigo County, members of the VCTA and the administration are appreciative that citizens voted to pass the referendum last year. “This will help to ensure that we will not have to cut programs or lay off teachers through a reduction in force, should there be further cuts in funding to public education,” Fidler said.