Crown Point teachers quietly protest lack of contract

2013-09-16T22:15:00Z 2013-09-17T23:17:04Z Crown Point teachers quietly protest lack of contractCarmen McCollum, (219) 662-5337

CROWN POINT | Dozens of Crown Point Community School Corp. teachers attended the School Board meeting Monday to protest not having settled their contract.

In red shirts, teachers gathered outside the building and spread into the corridors of the administration building prior to the board's 7 p.m. meeting. Some held signs and talked amongst themselves about the contractual issues confronting them.

If the contract is not settled by Sept. 30, it goes to arbitration.

Cindy Miller, former president of the Crown Point Education Association and a member of the negotiating team, said teachers don't believe the administrative team is bargaining in good faith.

They said they have not had a raise in five years, the district has developed a punitive point system for teachers, changes in the insurance program and a plan to to eliminate the grievance procedure.

"We want to be treated with respect and to be treated fairly," Miller said.

Teachers did not speak at the meeting. The public is only allowed to speak to agenda items.

After the meeting, Crown Point School Board President Scott Angel said negotiations are still underway.

Still, teachers and parents said despite passing a general fund referendum or tax increase to support the school's operating budget in May 2011, many classrooms are overcrowded.

The referendum called for a tax increase of up to 21 cents per $100 of assessed value on property within the school's boundaries. The $5 million in revenue generated by the tax increase is being used to supplement the general fund and avert a projected budget deficit and the resulting cuts to programs and staff.

Teachers said many classes are overcrowded, including a fifth-grade class at Solon Robinson Elementary School that has 31 students, a class at Lake Street Elementary with 30 students and a physical education class with 50 students.

Teachers say the administration has presented its proposal and has "refused" to budge.

Michael David, co-president of the teachers union, said teachers don't want to strike.

"Anything is possible but our teachers are interested in working with kids. We wouldn't want to do anything to interrupt the educational process, no extremes. We believe we can sit down to solve our differences," he said.

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