Before the school year even started, Plymouth Community School Corporation Administration and the Plymouth Education Association Negotiations Team were hard at work to update the Master Contract.
The last several years have been difficult as the state has not allocated the necessary funds to provide teachers with equitable raises to keep up with their years of experience as well as inflation. This year turned out to be different. As a result, PCSC and PEA are excited to announce a new contract that puts students and teachers at the forefront.
Both teams met informally during the summer and began discussing goals for the 2022-2023 contract. Formal negotiations commenced in September, and once state funding allocated to PCSC was specified, a tentative agreement was drawn up. The proposed contract was unanimously ratified by PEA members and approved by the PCSC School Board.
Superintendent Mitch Mawhorter commented, “Administration approached the conversation with the following goals: To strengthen our standing in the marketplace for teachers. We had too many teachers leave PCSC in the past few years, and we did not want to continue to lose teachers to other schools. We wanted to organize our Extra Curricular Activities schedule and add a lane to honor the commitment of the staff and community members who invest in our PCSC students outside of the school day. Finally, we wanted to minimize the impact of health insurance costs, so that the raise was not wiped out by an increase in premiums.”
Over the past several years it was not uncommon for entire raises to be wiped out by the rising cost of healthcare. This year the MASE Trust raised their premiums by 2.5%, and the Corporation raised their contributions to eliminate this cost to teachers.
PEA aimed to increase teacher pay in a fair and equitable manner with the mindset that investing in our teachers is ultimately investing in our students and our community. They also wanted to address the Extracurricular aspect of the contract, which had not been significantly discussed in over a decade. Over the course of two years, the respective teams researched local contracts in the Northern Lakes Conference and area schools. They were able to add additional roles and activities to broaden the opportunities for the students in our district. “We would like to give as many opportunities as possible for kids to find their passions. Most importantly we want students to have fun, positive experiences here in Plymouth. Boosting our ECA offerings supports those endeavors.” quotes PEA negotiations member Haley Church.
PEA Negotiations Chairperson and PEA Co-President Laura Kruyer added, “This contract represents an investment in students, teachers, and the community. The new agreement includes more than just a well-deserved salary increase for teachers. An additional day was added for professional development. The extracurricular schedule was overhauled to include a number of new programs including several new junior high sports, PHS eSports, summer orchestra, and a robotics program that will now be extended down to each of the elementary buildings. All of us who worked on negotiations are very proud of our school system. We want PCSC to be the destination choice!”
“We see this contract as a win for both parties.” stated Superintendent Mawhorter, “Our overall aim for the entire negotiation was meant to attract and retain the best teachers to work with our students without interruption. It is extremely important that we build consistency in our planning and execution as a school system. Therefore, it was important to pursue a long-term relationship with the teachers by giving the teaching group a good contract honoring the work they do for our students.”
Reid Gault, principal at Lincoln Junior High stated, “The results of negotiations have allowed PCSC to compensate our teachers more like the professionals they are. We can now better compete with other professions and surrounding districts. After the last several years and the unfair climate that teachers have persevered through, the new contract is much deserved.” This sentiment is felt in the response from 14-year PCSC teacher Megan Atkinson as well, “I am glad to see the state finally recognizing the need to pay teachers as professionals. This is the first time in the last few years that I didn’t feel any need to look for better-paying opportunities outside of education. This raise will make a significant positive impact on our teachers and their families.”
PCSC School Board President Melissa Christenson concluded, “We appreciate the hard work that PEA put into these negotiation sessions and are very pleased with the agreement reached this year. We feel the raises we are able to offer will go a long way toward retaining and attracting the best teachers so that our students will continue to have the opportunities and programs they need to prepare them for whatever career path they choose in life.”
In the end, both sides feel like this contract is a win for kids and teachers alike.
This press release provided by the PCSC