ST. JOHN | More than 120 teachers brought their classwork and their ire to Monday’s Lake Central School Corp. board meeting.
The issue is the nearly $200,000 in raises and stipends the board approved Feb. 21 for 11 current administrators and the decision to hire a director of secondary education.
“It’s a feeling of disrespect,” said Bob Gustas, president of the Lake Central Teachers Association and a math teacher at Hal E. Clark Middle School in St. John. “To us it’s like a slap in the face.”
The LCTA is currently negotiating with administration on the next contract, and teachers haven’t had a raise in four years, Gustas said, adding that teachers in the audience were a mix of union members and non-members.
The negotiating team meets with administration on a weekly basis, he said.
Katherine Clark said trying to raise three children on two teachers’ salaries has become impossible and that staying in the district may no longer be possible.
Administrators who received the raises and stipends “are not the only one who have had increased responsibility. It is the teachers who are in the classroom who offer a warm and welcoming environment for our students,” Gustas said in a statement to the School Board.
The raises and stipends were for 2 percent of the school corporation’s staff, Gustas said.
“We are anxious to see how the other 98 percent will be treated,” he said.
The elimination of extracurricular stipends for teachers also was an issue.
Sarah Verpooten, journalism teacher at Lake Central High for 11 years, said she spent 300 extra hours last year working with students to put out the school’s award-winning publications that wasn’t part of her contract.
School Board members Howard Marshall, Janice Malchow and George Baranowski told the teachers that they are appreciated and that it’s a process that takes time.
“It’s a tragedy and very upsetting. I know we are losing a lot of young teachers,” said Malchow, who voted against the pay increases for administrators. “I also know it’s not (just) a Lake Central problem. It’s happening all over the state.”
Marshall told the teachers, “This is a partnership. Lake Central wouldn’t be as highly rated without its teachers, without its facilities, or without its administrators.”
Baranowski urged the audience members to immediately call their legislators because this is a budget year in the Indiana General Assembly and the Lake Central School Corp. needs additional funding per student.
“We only have until April 29. When they pass the budget, that’s it for two more years,” Baranowski said.