By Baylee Comer
All across our country, teachers have been protesting their salary and benefits for the past year–even in places close to home. There have been plenty of strikes just south of Scottsburg in Kentucky. In school districts such as JCPS in Kentucky, teachers have held a “sickout” to protest a bill that could potentially reconstruct the teacher’s pension board. A “sickout” is where a large number of teachers call out sick, like a protest. The district was without 40 percent of its teachers according to the Courier Journal.
This Saturday, March 9, teachers from all over the state will join in a march planned by the Indiana State Teachers Association at the state capital in Indianapolis. Some of the teachers from SCSD2 plan to attend as well, including Mr. Jason Bagwell and Mrs. Amanda Bagwell. It is illegal for teachers to strike in Indiana, but they can still march, and according to Mr. Bob McGannon, even these marches are on a weekend where the protesting does not interfere with school hours. He also said that if teachers in SCSD2 were to protest, the president of the CTA, Classroom Teachers Association, could be arrested, which is Jason Bagwell.
SCSD2 teacher contracts will be up by the end of this school year on July 1. The teachers have held these contracts for the last eight years, meaning the salary and benefits have not changed. The CTA are joined with a representative of the ISTA to help negotiate the contract.
“When this contract ends, there is a lot of stuff that was in this one because it is so old, that isn’t allowed to be in the next one because the laws have changed. And that’s actually what we are working on right now, what was in there will maybe be in some other places if it was important things,” said Bagwell.
The topics negotiated in these contracts: money and benefits. These are things like insurance, vacation and sick days.
Money will not be fully negotiated until the count day in September. Bagwell said this is the day where the states counts how many students are at SHS, and they send money based on that number. It will not be until that day that the CTA knows how much money will be in their new contracts. The biggest problem: starting the school year still somewhat under the old contract until the money comes through from the new one in October. Bagwell hopes that the pay will then be caught up with all the time they lost under the old contract in August and September.
“The states that I have seen that are striking, we’re [Indiana] higher national–not a lot–but in base salary for teachers… But the laws are different obviously with the teachers strikes and everything going on there,” said Bagwell.
“In 23 years [I have been working as a teacher] I have never heard of a [teacher] walkout in Indiana,” said McGannon.
Governor Eric Holcomb is also planning on passing bills to allow more of a budget in Indiana’s education system, and give teachers more salary to try and oppose a walkout and strike in our state. The first of these bills raises the budget on Indiana’s education system by 4.3 percent, $461 million.
Leader of the ISTA, Teresa Meredith, has said previously that the ISTA would not be against striking, if push came to shove. If Indiana lawmakers ignore the protests and the voices of the teachers all around the state, there may be repercussions to their actions.