Flat Rock-Hawcreek board ratifies teachers contract

HOPE — Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corp. is moving forward with its plan to collectively raise teachers’ salaries by about 10% over two years.

Superintendent Shawn Price said that the school board unanimously ratified a 2021-23 collective bargaining agreement with its teachers association on Monday.

The association’s co-presidents, Andrea Reed and Julia Swegman, said in a joint statement that this is “the largest raise we have bargained in recent memory.”

The Flat Rock-Hawcreek Teachers Association has 61 teachers in its bargaining unit.

Prior to the agreement, teacher salaries ranged from $37,250 to $68,050. Under the approved contract, salaries will range from $40,000 to $72,000 during the 2021-22 school year.

“In an attempt to have a greater impact on our salary schedule, specifically our starting teacher salaries, an increase of $2,750 to every step on the scale will be done in year one,” Superintendent Shawn Price said in a statement. “Year two will see another $1,000 bump to the scale, making the starting and top salaries $41,000 and $73,000 respectively in the 2023 school year.”

Additionally, qualifying teachers will move up one step on the salary scale in 2021-22, which means a $1,200 increase.

Price said the approved agreement contains some minor changes from the previous tentative version. For instance, both contracts list eligibility factors for 2021-22 salary increases. Among these are evaluation rating (which must be either effective or highly effective) and work done by the teacher to meet academic needs of students (such as completing professional development, teaching dual credit or volunteer tutoring).

In the tentative version of the agreement, evaluation accounts for 68% of a teacher’s salary increase ($2,680) and “academic needs of students” accounts for 32% ($1,270). In the new version, evaluation counts for 69% ($2,750) and academic needs accounts for 31% ($1,200).

Price said that in the event a teacher does not meet either requirement, their salary would remain the same despite the increase to the salary scale. Another factor in eligibility is that teachers must have at least one year of teaching service at Flat Rock-Hawcreek.

Any funds forfeited by teachers who are not eligible for an increase will be divided equally among qualifying teachers and paid as a one-time stipend.

Price said that the contract represents a collective increase of 8.3% in its first year and another estimated 2% in the second year for a total of 10.3%.