HCTA head Gross says group appreciated pay raise efforts

The Huntington County Teachers Association appreciated the contract that the Huntington County Community School Corporation worked out with them, but it didn’t include the raises teachers were hoping would have been provided had the referendum questions passed on Nov. 5.

The 2019-2020 contract received unanimous approval as part of the consent agenda item during the school board’s first meeting since the election, on Monday, Nov. 11.

Tom Gross, the co-president of Huntington County Teachers Association, thanked the school board for what he said was a commitment shown in the two referendum questions the school district posed to voters, one of which would have increased teacher salaries to make them competitive with surrounding districts.

“HCTA commends your efforts. The state simply does not fund our schools at a level that would allow us to accomplish the necessary maintenance issues and retain our teachers,” Gross said. “Our hope through all the frustration is that we are able to make our community stronger by investing in our education system.”

The starting salary for teaching staff will remain at $34,500, with $66,000 at the top of the scale, said Superintendent Chad Daugherty.
Scott Bumgardner, assistant superintendent for business and classified staff, also announced that HCCSC has proposed to add in a 401A employer contribution of 1 percent of the employees’ salaries starting Jan. 1. He explained the State of Indiana decreased the amount that school corporations have to pay in state retirement by 2 percentage points.

“This is putting that into a 401A for our employees,” he added. “That will be on a yearly basis, according to what the state funding is.”
Teachers did get a nod from administration to attend the “Red for Ed Action Day” rally at the Statehouse in Indianapolis on Tuesday, Nov. 19. Earlier on Monday, the school corporation released a press release announcing that classes will be canceled and a make-up day will be held later in the school year.

Daugherty said that 123 teachers called in a personal day on that date, but the corporation only has 116 substitute teachers available to cover for the absences.

Daugherty also announced that there will be substitute teacher training for 16 people scheduled for Nov. 13. They will receive training on safe schools, ALICE (Alert Lockdown Inform Counter Evacuate), technology and classroom management and screening for criminal background checks. He said the corporation hopes to add more substitute teachers to its pool, including retired teachers.

Monday, Nov. 18, will be an eLearning/Flex Day for students and teachers. While students are learning lessons and completing assignments online, teachers and classified staff will participate in several different trainings and meetings throughout the day.

Daugherty was asked why Nov. 19 couldn’t be a Flex Day since it was called off. He explained that the entire staff will be going through training, both certified and classified employees, and the professional development curriculum has already been lined up.

As for students, attendance will be counted on Nov. 18, and they will have three days to complete their assignments.

On another matter, the board unanimously approved the following trustees to area library boards:

• Dave Denney, to the Huntington City-Township Public Library Markle Branch board, in a joint appointment with Northern Wells Community Schools Board of Trustees.

• Pamela Worrel, appointed as trustee to the Roanoke Public Library Board.

The board also voted 6-0 with one abstention to allow a student to come back to school who was expelled. The board allowed the student to return on Wednesday, Nov. 13. Board President Matt Roth abstained, saying he was not able to attend the student’s hearing that occurred earlier.

“HCCSC has a zero tolerance policy for fighting, bullying and violence of any kind,” said Board Member Matt Melcher. “I commend the Huntington North High School administration for taking swift, corrective action on this matter. That being said, I feel that the seven weeks of expulsion already served adequately fulfills the penalty for this specific infraction. The student displays an admission of their actions as well as remorse for the decisions made. Because of this, I support the current motion to modify this expulsion.”

Several policies in the employee handbook were also approved unanimously on their second reading. Those policies have been posted in the agenda item details under the “Current School Board Meeting Agenda” link on the HCCSC webpage, www.hccsc.k12.in.us.