BCSC approves teacher contract, resumes public meetings

The Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. held an in-person school board meeting Monday after briefly going virtual last month due to the behavior of attendees.

Items on the agenda included BCSC’s two-year agreement with the Columbus Educators Association (CEA) on teacher salaries, which was approved. The board also approved administrator contracts.

The collective bargaining agreement raises the salary scale for 769 teachers about 12.5% over two years, according to a joint statement from the school corporation and teachers association.

All teachers on the salary schedule will see an increase of $2,935 for this year, per a presentation from the school corp. and CEA. This will raise starting salary from $39,065 to $42,000. The top of the scale, previously $77,465, will become $80,400. Maximum salary, including referendum increases, will rise from $85,000 to $87,935. Increases will be retroactive to the start of the contract year.

For 2022-23, starting salary will move to $44,600. The difference between each step on the salary schedule will increase from $1,200 to $1,500, and the schedule will be reduced from 33 steps to 27. The minimum increase for all teachers on the schedule is $2,600; increases will range from $2,600 to $3,800. The top of the scale will become $83,600, and the maximum salary, including referendum increases, will move to $90,000.

The points system for experience increases under the referendum will remain the same for 2021-23.

As stated in last year’s agreement, teacher referendum increases are based on years of experience (at the beginning of the school year), with each year of BCSC experience counting for one point and each year of outside experience counting for a third of a point.

The referendum increase levels are as follows:

5-9.9 points: $5,000 increase

10-14.9 points: $10,000 increase

15+ points: $15,000 increase

“Just to clarify, the point system … it’s after they complete the five-, 10- and 15-year amounts,” CEA President Amy London said at a previous meeting. “Then, the following year they will get that amount on there.”

Monday’s meeting was the first regular school board meeting to be held in person since September. However, the board did hold special meetings in September and October as part of its collective bargaining process, according to its online schedule. These were in-person and open to the public.

Only a handful of people showed up to watch Monday’s meeting in-person, including two men who spoke during time for public comment. Jason Major asked the school corporation to consider providing a Zoom option so that students who are sent home can keep up with their classmates.

The second speaker, Eric Grow, urged parents to pay more attention to school board matters and called on the board to provide more transparency and better means of communication for parents.

“I think we all kind of need to take a step back and evaluate our foundational principles,” he said. “And I mean the board, BCSC staff and parents. I think right now we’re all in our trenches. And the way we’re conducting ourselves is driving a wedge further, making it less likely that we can be productive and help our children.”

In addition to hearing public comment, the board also approved a number of items, including the 2022 budget and changes to the school corporation’s three-year calendar.

Assistant superintendent of financial services Chad Phillips said at a previous meeting that the budget is about $138 million, which is a net total increase of 7.6% over 2021.

He reported Monday that BCSC’s average daily membership is up about 126 students from last year’s count. ADM was 11,307 in October of 2020. Officials expect the number to increase next year as well.

“It’s a good trend and it’s bucking the trend that you see in some other districts,” Phillips said.

The school corporation has close to 500 students enrolled in its Columbus Virtual Pathway program, he added. He said at a previous meeting that the school corporation will receive 85% of state support for students enrolled in its virtual program.