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Gary school district, teachers union at collective bargaining impasse
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Gary school district, teachers union at collective bargaining impasse

Gary Community School Corp. The Path Forward

A sign outside Gary's West Side Leadership Academy details capital improvements planned at the high school as a part of the district's "Path Forward" campaign to address academic, operations, fiscal and engagement issues within the school corporation.

The Gary Community School Corp. has reached an impasse with its teachers amid negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement.

According to the Indiana Education Employment Relations Board (IEERB), a ratified collective bargaining contract was due to be submitted Monday, and no signed deal was received by the close of business.

As a result, the school corporation and the teachers union must now work with a mediator to resolve the impasse over the next 30 days.

Paige McNulty, the Gary school district's manager, is confident that once the administration presents its last, best and final offer to the teachers union, the impasse will successfully be resolved in short order.

"We are bargaining in good faith," McNulty said. "I'm optimistic we will come to a resolution."

GlenEva Dunham, president of the Gary chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, is less certain. She believes the district is dragging its feet on negotiations and attempting to silence teachers when they try to call attention to the impasse.

On Wednesday, Dunham told the Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board — which oversees the financially impaired Gary school district in place of locally elected trustees — that the 2% teacher pay raise proposed by the school district is unacceptable if it remains tied to retirement benefit cuts and health insurance premium increases.

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She said Gary teachers only have received one pay raise in the past 12 years, a 5.3% boost in January that also required teachers to work an extra hour each day. Gary teachers additionally received a $2,100 COVID-19 bonus in May.

Dunham said Gary teachers are looking for a larger across-the-board pay raise to keep up with the rising cost of living, rather than various incentive pay options proposed by the district that Dunham said force teachers to jump through a bunch of hoops to earn.

Under Indiana law, the IEERB is required to appoint a fact finder to craft a binding resolution to the contract dispute if the impasse between the school district and teachers union lasts longer than 30 days.

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