Northwestern Consolidated Schools and teachers association have come to a tentative Collective Bargaining Agreement that could be ratified Thursday.
During Monday’s monthly school board meeting, Northwestern Consolidated Superintendent Chris Hoke told the board that they had three main objectives heading into negotiations, all of which are fulfilled under the agreement.
The first was to maintain the ability to attract and retain employees.
The second was to revise the new hire salary guideline, specifically addressing structural issues and increasing the minimum salary to $40,000.
And the third was to revise the bargaining unit to reflect the Indiana Department of Education’s definition of “teacher.”
The tentative agreement includes a $3,350 base salary addition and a revised new hire salary guideline.
“There is a group of people below what the comparable new hire level would be,” Hoke told the board. “It would be in their best interest to resign and reapply.”
The revised guideline includes a minimum $40,000 salary. A new state law goes into effect at the end of the 2022-23 school year requiring that minimum, but the board previously identified that it would like to accomplish that this school year, he said.
The agreement also includes catch-up provisions for affected returning employees, according to Hoke.
The revised bargaining unit reflects the IDOE definition of the term “teacher,” which is defined as “someone who worked 120 days last school year who was rated effective or highly effective” on his or her evaluation. That individual must also be currently employed by the school district when the agreement is ratified.
The revision removes school counselors and the Title I director from the bargaining unit.
“The tentative agreement takes care of the three top objectives,” Hoke said.
Under the agreement, the base salary additions come out to $229,475. The revised new hire salary guideline is $23,688.40 and the total base salary investment for the school district is $253,163.40.
The minimum base salary comes out to $217.93 per day and the max ($72,797.85) comes out to $395.64 per day.
The proposed CBA salary investment is the largest amount the board has invested in the contract dating back to 2015, Hoke said.
He also compared the increase to the current inflation rate in the country.
When discussions began in the summer, inflation was at 1.8 percent. It is now at 6.2 percent.
“We’re in the middle of a 30-year high in inflation,” Hoke said. “If you’ve gone into the store, you’ve seen what prices have done in the last five months.”
The average increase in the base salary under the proposal is 6.37 percent.
The agreement can be ratified at 7 p.m. Thursday during a public meeting in which public comment will be allowed.