Teacher compensation was shaping up to be a hot ticket policy item for lawmakers in 2021, after thousands of educators flooded the Statehouse six months ago to highlight teachers' and public schools' financial needs.
Then, COVID-19 hit and brought much of the world to a halt, including revenue streams that touch all levels of government.
But Indiana State Teachers Association (ISTA) president Keith Gambill says addressing teacher compensation statewide remains critical.
One concern in the coming months is the number of teachers who may retire, whether because of a lack of increasing pay, the pandemic, or both.
"And we have to be very careful because if that were to go up too quickly, we don't have enough folks in the pipeline to fill in," he says.
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And that could add to the numbers of issues for schools to work through because of the coronavirus crisis – especially if schools are still required to operate with strict social distancing measures in place.
"Then the ability to reduce staff really is counter intuitive to the information that we are given from our health professionals," Gambill says.
Gambill says data gathered from teachers who leave the profession points to compensation as a key factor. And while government funding will be affected at all levels from the pandemic, he says the state needs to look at how it's spending education dollars too.
Gambill says ISTA is tracking campaigns and virtually meeting with political candidates. Most lawmakers in the state legislature will be on ballots across the state. All 100 House seats and half of the state's Senate seats are up for election this year.