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South Bend teacher salary negotiations officially reach impasse, move to mediation

Justin Hicks / WVPE

Collective bargaining between the South Bend teacher’s union and the South Bend Community School Corporation officially reached an impasse Monday. The sticking point? Teacher raises.

The district’s latest proposal – which officials presented at the school board meeting Monday night – would establish a median teacher salary of over $50,350 by the 2022-23 school year, up from $44,800 currently. 


But NEA-South Bend President Linda Lucy said that’s still short of the $60,000 dollar average salary recommended by a state panel last year. 


“No, we’re not there yet,” Lucy said during public comment. “We are not there at all. Our teachers deserve better.”


Another disagreement? How those raises will be distributed. The district’s proposal would raise teacher starting salaries to $42,800 and give other increases on the following scale: 

  • 1 to 3 years of experience: $1,800
  • 4 to 6 years of experience: $2,300
  • 7 to 9 years of experience: $2,500
  • 10 to 23 years of experience: $3,300
  • 24 or more years of experience: $2,300

All teachers would also receive a $500 stipend, with teachers in the 24-or-more bracket receiving an additional $1,000.

School officials said the union’s latest counter-offer proposed adding $5.5 million to the salary base and $2.5 million in stipends without specifying how funds would be distributed. Prior proposals, they said, made no adjustments to starting salaries and gave the largest raises to teachers with 15 or more years of experience. 


The district and union have made some tentative agreements – continuing stipends for teachers with high performance ratings and for those who receive National Board Certification, for example. They also tentatively agreed to $70-an-hour compensation for teachers who provided extended learning during the 2021-22 school year.


While they disagree on insurance premiums, the district and union have tentatively agreed to $300 insurance incentives for employees who receive their physical at the school’s clinic.


However, school and union officials disagree on contract length. School officials said Monday the union has pushed to renegotiate salaries and benefits next year, while the district has favored a two-year agreement.


“We do think it’s important that teachers know precisely what their salary increase and what their 22-23 salary will be as soon as possible,” Assistant Superintendent for Innovation and Accountability Rafi Nolan-Abrahamian said.


Since negotiations have reached an impasse, the state will now appoint a mediator for one to three confidential sessions. 


If no agreement is reached, both parties will make a “Last Best Offer.” Those offers come with restrictions, most notably that the district can’t spend outside its education and referendum fund. 


Contact Gemma atgdicarlo@wvpe.orgor follow her on Twitter at@gemma_dicarlo.


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Gemma DiCarlo came to Indiana by way of Athens, Georgia. She graduated from the University of Georgia in 2020 with a degree in Journalism and certificates in New Media and Sustainability. She has radio experience from her time as associate producer of Athens News Matters, the flagship public affairs program at WUGA-FM.