Both the Plymouth Community School Corporation and the Plymouth Education Association feel negotiations leading to the ratification of a master contract were fair; however it may take some time before teachers know if or how much of a stipend they might receive. The contract that is in force from July 1, 2015 to July 30, 2017 was ratified by the School Board on October 6.
During and after the meeting, Laura Kruyer who is co-president of PEA pointed to the way the state’s funding formula is making it difficult to know what funds will be extended to schools. Kruyer said, “PCSC did want to find a way to show appreciation to teachers. Since there is no “new” money, we had to get creative.” Among other things, the Plymouth Schools are experiencing a decline in enrollment and, therefore, a reduction in reimbursement dollars from the state.
The corporation has appropriated $300,000 from the Rainy Day Fund to fund retirement incentives and teacher stipends. $120,000 will be available for a maximum of eight teachers. To qualify for the incentive a teacher must be 55 years of age and have 16 years of teaching by June 30, 2016. They must also submit a non-revocable letter of retirement by winter vacation in 2015 to receive a $15,000 contribution to their VEBA.
A minimum of $180,000 will be available for teacher stipends. In order to qualify, teachers must be rated “highly effective” or “effective” that is determined by multiple observations by administrators and results of standardized testing, such as ISTEP scores. Due to problems with testing, the state has not yet released the ISTEP scores. According to the master contract, 33.33 percent of the stipend funds will be allocated for teachers who earned 45 PGA’s during the 2014-2015 school year and were not rated Needs Improvement or Ineffective in their 2014-2015 evaluations. The remaining 66.67 percent will be allocated toward salary stipends for teachers who were also not rated as Needs Improvement or Ineffective. Stipends will be a one-time payment.
Carol Anders Correspondent