Commentary by State Rep. Todd Huston (R-Fishers)
Teachers across our state, including in Hamilton Southeastern Schools, are set to see their paychecks grow. Recently, HSE leaders approved a two-year teacher contract that included an average pay increase of 5.7 percent in 2020 and 3.3 percent in 2021. These pay raises are made possible by the diligent budgeting efforts of local school districts, and historic investments in education from the state level.
These much-needed raises reflect an appreciation of the hard work and dedication of our local teachers. We want to draw the best and brightest teachers to our local school districts because of the profound impact an outstanding educator has on a child.
HSE is not the only school district in our area delivering more pay raises for professional educators. Noblesville Schools just gave its teachers the biggest raise in more than 40 years with an average increase of more than 9 percent in the contract’s first year. In Carmel, teachers can expect to see a 4 percent increase in their salary schedule during the 2019-2020 school year and a 2 percent bump the following year.
These teacher raises are not unique to just Hamilton County; they come months after state lawmakers pumped more than $700 million in new funding into Indiana’s K-12 education system. During the next two years, HSE will receive an 8 percent increase in state funding. Lawmakers also transferred $150 million in state reserves to pay down the state’s teacher pension liability, which freed up $1.5 million for HSE to put toward teacher salaries.
On top of a historic statewide funding increase, the General Assembly also passed a new law strongly encouraging schools to dedicate at least 85 percent of their state funding to classrooms, such as teacher pay. While salaries and benefits are determined at the local level, this new law urges elected school boards to channel more of their state dollars toward classroom instruction.
With Indiana devoting more than half its budget to K-12 education, it should be obvious that teachers and students are a top priority for state lawmakers.