Carmel expects to give teachers ‘biggest raise’ in last decade  

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The Carmel Clay Schools board of trustees approved raises June 24 for many district employees who aren’t teachers, although teachers are expected to get a larger-than-usual jump in pay once the collective bargaining process is complete this fall.

Salaried employees who are not teachers – such as administrators, department chairs and nurses – will receive a 4 percent pay raise for the 2019-20 school year and a 2 percent raise the following year. Support staff will receive a 2.5 percent increase next school year with a 2 percent increase the following year.

State law prohibits collective bargaining to begin before mid-September, but CCS Supt. Michael Beresford said he expects teachers to receive the largest raise they’ve had in recent years.

“I think (the proposal) is a very balanced approach, and I think it values all of our employees,” Beresford said. “Our teachers are getting a little extra love this year because they got a little extra love from the state, and I’m happy about that. At the end of the day I would not be surprised after negotiations conclude that this may be the biggest raise our teachers have gotten in the last five to 10 years.”

CCS Associate Supt. Roger McMichael said the district can afford the raises because of funds made available through the district’s referendum approved in 2017 and the state legislature’s decision to reduce the amount school districts must pay toward teacher retirement funds from 7.5 percent to 5.5 percent of their salary. The legislature approved the change earlier this year as a way to help boost pay for teachers.

School board member Pamela Knowles cast the lone vote against the proposal, saying that she didn’t think non-teachers should receive a raise before the teachers’ contract is finalized.

“We need to make the teacher contract our priority this year,” she said. “The legislature added additional money to the budget for education for the next biennium so that (school) corporations could negotiate in good faith to raise teacher salaries across the state. If we address the non-bargaining groups first, it gives the impression the teachers are to bargain with the money that is left.”

McMichael said it makes sense to approve the raises for non-bargaining employees before the July 1 fiscal year begins. He said approving them later would result in retroactive payments, which create an “additional burden” on the finance department.

“We feel employees should have their increase in a timely manner when that’s at all possible,” McMichael said.

He also said he doesn’t expect the approved raises to affect what offered to the teachers.

“We did not in any way make a recommendation here that would disadvantage our teachers,” he said.

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