Seymour school board approves teacher contracts

Seymour Community School Corp. has reached an agreement with the Seymour Education Association on teacher contracts for the current school year.

School board members voted 6-0 last Tuesday to accept the agreement, which allows for raises only if there is sufficient state funding in the spring.

Trustee Max Klosterman was absent from the meeting.

Business Manager Steve Nauman said if the corporation has money available after funding its 2021-22 budget, then it will give raises one of two ways.

One way would be a base salary increase for eligible teachers, while the other would be a one-time stipend.

The amount will be determined by Nauman based on what funding is available and will be paid out no later than June 30, 2021.

Lisa Freeman and Paula Swengel, co-presidents of the SEA, said raises may not be guaranteed, but teachers will not lose pay and teaching staff will not be reduced, both of which are happening in other parts of the state.

The “status quo” contract isn’t what teachers had hoped for, but it is better than the alternative, Freeman and Swengel said.

“SEA wishes there was a bigger change, but we understand that COVID has made everything difficult this year. Much hinges on what the state legislature will do with the education budget,” Freeman said.

"With the possibility of the state deciding to only fund virtual students at 85% starting in January, we feel happy with the agreement,” Swengel added.

The school board and the SEA have come together to formally ask the state via a resolution to continue funding all students, virtual and in person, at 100% this school year.

“It has been challenging to accommodate students that are remote, on-site or hybrid this year,” Freeman said. “We are very proud of our teachers and how they have come together to make the best of this difficult situation. They are working very hard.”

The agreement between SCSC and the SEA also calls for the corporation to maintain the same level of deposits into teachers’ health savings accounts as it did in the 2019-20 school year.

Those amounts vary from $500 to $1,500 depending on which insurance plan a teacher uses and whether they are insured as an individual or a family.

The corporation also will continue to provide two insurance premium holidays to teachers, which means teachers will not have to pay their share of insurance premiums for two payrolls per year.

Another change called for in the agreement is payment for supervision duties outside a teacher’s contracted hours, for example bus duty.

Teachers will be compensated pro rata at their respective hourly rate for the additional time worked if they are not able to flex their schedule in order to leave earlier that day or another day.