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Griffith High School

Griffith High School.

Griffith teachers will receive a bonus in time for the holidays.

The Griffith Public Schools board voted Thursday night to approve new teacher contracts, including a 3 percent stipend for all qualified employees to be paid before Christmas.

"Both sides worked very hard, and I'm glad we came to a resolution," labor relations attorney Dave Dickson said in the Thursday night board meeting as he recommended approval of the agreement ratified by teachers.

The approval came after the district and the Griffith Federation of Teachers entered state mediation earlier this month to resolve the federation’s request for teacher raises.

School Board President Gary Sutton said the mediation happened in a single three-hour session and that he was pleased with the outcome.

Griffith Public Schools previously had denied requested raises, according to the federation’s attorney, Larry Stassin, because of overspending this year from the school’s general fund. Teachers said they were instead offered a 1 percent stipend.

"We all have a passion for teaching," Griffith teachers wrote in a letter shared with The Times earlier this month. "Yet, the Griffith administration is not paying its teachers with teacher retention in mind."

Teachers are paid a starting salary of $38,500 in Griffith schools, according to the district's 2017-18 contracts. The 3 percent stipend approved Thursday evening follows a raise approved in last year's contract.

Dickson called this year's stipend substantial and said in ratifying the contract, the Griffith board balanced giving its teachers as much as possible while being fiscally responsible.

Griffith Superintendent Michele Riise said talks were positive and she was happy to help bring the bonuses near the end of the year.

"That's a good thing," Riise said. "Whenever we can do that, it's an easy one to have to do."

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Education Reporter

Carley Lanich covers education in Lake County and throughout the Region. She comes to Northwest Indiana from Indianapolis and is an IU-Bloomington grad.