In what may be viewed as a show of unity, if not a bit of rebellion, the
Duneland School Board and the Duneland Teachers Association have entered
into a five-year teachers contract that includes some additional protections
for teachers though no immediate raises.
The Duneland School Board on Monday unanimously approved the contract, which
was earlier ratified by the DTA.
The contract includes language that will allow raises to be renegotiated on
an annual basis. But for now, the contract includes no raises, except for
the standard incremental pay hike, of about 1.2 to 1.4 percent, for each
additional year of service for those teachers not at the top end of the pay
The contracts approved in the summer for the classified and administrative
staff also came with no raises.
The fact that the contract is extends to the 2014-15 school year may be a
first for the Duneland Schools.
“It’s the longest contract we’d had in Duneland in my memory,” said Duneland
Superintendent Dirk Baer.
Baer said the teachers were interested in securing a long-term contract in
light of the many changes in Indiana in public education. He said the
general feeling is that after getting “hammered and hammered” over the past
18 months or so, some in public education are now getting “feisty” and want
The five-year contract, Baer said, shows that the administration, board, and
teachers are unified in their desire to retain protections for teachers and
administrators, at a time when public education statewide is going through a
DTA Co-chair Michele Bartels agreed.
“Our future in this state in the teaching profession as we know it today is
uncertain,” she said. “We need some constancy. We haven’t had much of that.”
Bartels cited several moves by the Indiana Department of Education and Gov.
Mitch Daniels perceived as being unfriendly to public school teachers -- a
lack of support for collective bargaining, deep funding cuts for schools,
general support for more charter schools, and a perceived tone that teachers
somehow are not professionals. “We are not getting respect,” she said.
Beginning in 2009, the state took over the funding for school general funds,
which include the costs for teacher salaries and benefits. Then, at the
start of this year, the state cut nearly $300 million in school funding,
prompting the Duneland Schools to approve a series of budget cutting
measures, including reduced hours for classified staff and incentives for
veteran teachers to retire early, with some of their positions being left
Duneland School Board President Mike Trout said the contract talks were a
difficult process and that it’s unfortunate that Duneland could not give
teacher raises, given the budget climate.
The contract is retroactive to August 1 of this year and will be in place
through the 2014-15 school year.
The contract, while not including teacher raises, does include some language
One of the most significant changes involves the grievance process. The
contract now allows the school board to overturn the superintendent if a
teacher has a grievance that isn’t settled first at the building level. The
teachers’ contracts used to have this provision, and it was reinstated in
the newest contract, Baer said.
The contract also establishes a teacher-administrator committee on teacher
retirement plans, giving the committee the authority to make recommendations
on such matters as which vendor to use.
Further, the contract changes language involving summer school positions.
Baer said seniority has typically been the main factor in filling teacher
summer school positions. Now, the summer school posts will be filled by
teachers most closely aligned with the subject matter at hand; if, for
example, a middle school and a high school teacher are both seeking a
particular high school summer school position, the post will now likely go
to the high school teacher even if the middle school teacher has more
The school board’s meeting Monday included a fond farewell for long-time
corporation secretary Treva Puglisi and for school board member John
Puglisi has been school corporation secretary for 28 years, serving under
four different superintendents. That alone qualifies her for special
recognition, Baer joked.
Baer thanked Puglisi for her service and for her “warmth and caring” shown
for students and employees. She will be replaced by assistant secretary
“It would be difficult to put in words -- without getting emotional -- what
Treva has meant to the Duneland School Corporation,” Baer said.
The school board presented a gift certificate to Puglisi -- Trout noted that
it was funded by school board members personally, and not with public funds
-- and hosted a small reception for her after the board meeting. Puglisi
said she appreciates her time with the Duneland Schools and for getting to
know the people in the school corporation.
The school board also thanked Marshall for her service on the school board;
Marshall will be replaced by Ralph Ayres, who won the Nov. 2 election for
the Westchester-Pine school board seat.
Trout presented Marshall with an Indiana School Board Association plaque and
commended him for his service. “He’ll be missed,” Trout said.
For his part, Marshall said he intends to stay active with the Duneland
Schools and that he has felt honored and blessed to serve on the school
board. “It has been a wonderful experience in these last five years,” he