Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Contract time: Teachers pack Duneland School Board meeting

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

As in the past two years, no one from the public spoke at the hearing on the Duneland Schools proposed budget.

But that doesn’t mean the Duneland School Board didn’t get a message during its meeting Monday.

Nearly 130 Duneland teachers, staff and retirees filled the meeting room and the hallways of the Administration Building while the board conducted its meeting. However, it was not explained in the meeting why the teachers came out in droves.

But there was a reason, according to Chesterton High School teacher Bob DeRuntz who, after the meeting adjourned, told the Chesterton Tribune the teachers wanted to show their unity in the midst of negotiations going on between the Duneland Teachers Association and the Duneland School Board for a new salary contract.

“They hope that these negotiations will establish teacher salaries that are comparable with other surrounding school districts,” DeRuntz said.

DeRuntz, who is the DTA’s spokesperson for the negotiations, said that while under contract, it has been seven years since Duneland teachers last received a pay raise.

“People came (to the board meeting) to emphasize that teachers need to be made a priority and that our teacher salaries, which have fallen far behind those of our neighboring schools systems, need to be made more competitive,” he said.

DeRuntz said he’s worried that “if Duneland salaries aren’t competitive then Duneland will lose great veteran teachers and that it would be difficult to attract highly-qualified educators competing with other school districts with better salaries.”

“Our brand, the Duneland Difference, is real, and it has been hard earned by generations of great teachers serving our community,” he said. “We must invest in our brand if we hope to continue to have the best teachers in our classrooms for our community’s kids.”

The negotiation meetings continue today at 4 p.m. at the Administration Center and a large number of current and retired teachers are expected to gather in front of the Administration Center as talks go on between the DTA and the School Board.

DeRuntz said he hopes both sides “can reach some common ground” on Tuesday. The negotiations may continue for the rest of September.

 

Posted 9/13/2016

 
 
 
 

 

 

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