By a 6-0 vote, the Vigo County School Board approved a new collective bargaining agreement with teachers, which means the minimum starting salary for a teacher will increase from $35,000 to $38,000.

The board approved the new contract Friday morning during a special meeting. Members of the Vigo County Teachers Association previously ratified the contract by a vote of 624 in favor to 97 opposed.

“When you think about state funding for teachers and staff, I don’t believe the current state funding measures are aligned with the value that teachers and staff bring to their community,” said Rob Haworth, VCSC superintendent. “We’re very, very appreciative of the opportunity to bring a 3 percent raise, or greater, to our teachers. That was only made possible with the help of our community” through a referendum.

The district’s state funding was less than 1 percent in new money and didn’t allow for raises this year. “The dollars we had to bargain were made possible through a successful referendum, supported by our community. Thanks to all of those groups that made this possible,” Haworth said.

While state funding normally funds teacher pay, the salary increases this year will come from 2020 operational referendum funds.

Pay increases will start on Jan. 1, 2020, since they are funded from the 2020 referendum.

“This agreement allows us to continue to put great teachers in front of our students every day,” Haworth stated in a news release. “In a time of teacher shortages, we wanted to focus on our starting salary so that we can be competitive with our neighbors and attract the best and brightest teachers to Vigo County.”

Details of the plan include:

The minimum starting salary will be increased to $38,000. The minimum starting salary for teachers with at least a master’s degree will be $40,000. The minimum starting salary for teachers with a doctorate will be $46,500.

Returning VCSC teachers also will receive a salary increase:

• Teachers hired after May 10, 2005, will receive a salary base increase of 5%.

• Teachers hired on or after May 10, 1996, and before May 10, 2005, will receive a salary base increase of 4%.

• Teachers hired prior to May 10, 1996, will receive a salary base increase of 3%.

• The board contribution for health insurance premiums will maintain the same ratio to the total health insurance premium as it did in 2019.

• Teachers enrolled in high deductible health plans will receive an HSA contribution of $800 for single plans and $1,800 for family, employee and spouse, or employee and children plans. The contribution will be made prior to Feb. 1, 2020.

• The school district will increase its contribution to the teachers’ 401(a) retirement plan, from 2.65% to 2.75%.

“We’re excited the collective bargaining agreement especially focuses on new and first year teachers,” said Bill Riley, VCSC director of communications. For new, first year teachers with a bachelor’s degree, the minimum starting salary increases $3,000, to $38,000 from the current $35,000.

The increases are critical, he said.

Nationally and statewide, “New teachers are leaving the profession at an alarming rate. We have a teacher shortage. We have to attract the best and brightest to teach our children,” Riley said.

Returning teachers will receive significant increases as well — 5% for the newest, 4% for middle range in terms of start date and 3% for more veteran teachers, he said.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or at sue.loughlin@tribstar.com Follow Sue on Twitter @TribStarSue

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