Teacher questions North Harrison wages
Kaitlyn Clay, Staff Writer, [email protected]
Kelly Book, a science teacher at North Harrison High School, is hoping that teacher compensation will be heavily considered when making the corporation’s budget for 2022. She raised some of her concerns regarding this matter at the corporation’s three meetings — a budget hearing, a bargaining hearing and the regular session — on Sept. 9, expressing she may not be able to continue working at her current salary.
Book, a third-generation educator, has been a teacher at North Harrison for nine years and previously attended the school as a student. North Harrison currently has a teacher pay scale with 26 levels, and Book expressed that, during her time as a teacher for the North Harrison Community School Corp., she only has moved up one level to achieve Level 2.
“I can’t pay my bills with this salary, and I’m having to start considering all of my options as to if I can continue my teaching career,” Book said. “It feels like I am being asked to work until I die, or at least indefinitely. I want to enjoy my career without having to worry about pay. I know I am not the only one who feels this way, and, if teacher pay doesn’t get fixed on the next contract, many of us could potentially leave.”
Book shared that she desires to stay at North Harrison as she loves the school, but was curious as to why her pay was as low as it is and why she hasn’t moved up any level higher than one above an incoming new teacher.
“How much are you willing to invest in your teachers?” Book asked the board. “An investment in our teachers is an investment in our students.”
Dr. Lance Richards, superintendent for the school district, answered Book’s questions by saying the board is aware of compensation concerns among teachers and staff and it is a major priority in budgeting this year.
A bargaining session, which will include teacher compensation, was set to begin Sept. 17, and the board hopes to have a tentative agreement by Oct. 21, which will then be uploaded to Indiana Gateway, an online dashboard that details all local government finances, by Nov. 16.
Richards also went over the advertised budget during its hearing for the school corporation.
In the education line, the corporation is advertising a budget of $14.4 million, $2.7 million in the debt service line and $5.8 million in operations.
Richards noted they advertise high in hopes to receive closer to that amount.
During the regular portion of the meeting, Richards commended the school staff, students and community for continuing with efforts to avoid and fight COVID-19. He urged anyone who feels sick to stay at home and said that wearing masks can help students and teachers avoid quarantining for an extended period.
“Everybody’s hard is hard, and it’s been hard to keep a sense of normalcy,” Richards said. “As we move forward and the spread hopefully declines, then maybe by the second semester we can say what a great and normal year we have had.”
He also commended the Harrison County Board of Commissioners and the highway department for their continued work to construct a turning lane at North Harrison Elementary School to better help with traffic flow. He shared that a gravel base that is drivable is complete and they intend to pave that area in the next month or so.
The board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m in the middle school cafeteria n Ramsey.