INDIANAPOLIS — The Pike Classroom Teachers Association has been invited back to the bargaining table to negotiate higher wages for teachers who they say aren't receiving fair pay.
PCTA said based on volunteer data, a 10-year teacher makes just $1.90 more per hour than a new hire, and a current 18-year teacher earns $7,000 less than an 18-year teacher did in 2006.
They also said Pike teachers are between $10,000 to $15,000 per year behind many other districts.
In a statement to 13News, PCTA said it received and accepted an invitation to return to the bargaining table Oct. 26.
This comes after Thursday night's school board meeting where close to 100 teachers and bus drivers protested outside the administration center calling for better compensation.
The PCTA said the district's compensation philosophy needs to change and does not value existing teachers, saying they fear students will not have enough teachers in the classrooms.
In the week leading up to the meeting, PCTA leadership is asking for a school board review of the draft budget plan presented at the Aug. 26 work session.
"We noticed several areas of concern with regards to CY 2020 and CY 2021 budgeted financials as they compare to actual numbers from previous years," PCTA said in the statement.
The group said it is concerned about potential deficit budgets and an anticipated $22.1 million worth of transfers out of the education fund (14% of state tuition).
PCTA also noted concerns about millions of dollars going toward capital projects.
"Over $31 million in expected capital projects, that are not in alignment with the capital plan passed Oct. 8, 2020. The approved capital plan states $9,310,000 in projects are planned over the next three years," the statement said.
Bus drivers are also fighting for higher compensation, saying many drivers have been leaving because they can't afford to live off their paychecks.
On Friday, Pike Township announced another e-learning day, citing problems with the bus service. This comes after the district canceled in-person learning twice last month because of the same issue.
Previously, the district said it's due to the national driver shortage, planned medical leave and illness-related absences. This time, they believe it's due to recent discussions around compensation that may have led to "call-offs."
Last week, the Metropolitan School District of Pike Township released the following statement about the compensation dispute and call-offs:
"MSD Pike Township and the PCTA (Pike Classroom Teacher Association) are currently in the process of negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement. We will continue to focus our priority in investing in teachers to ensure that our district remains a top provider of high-quality education in this state.
We have reason to believe that recent discussions around compensation may have led to call-offs today, causing a disruption to MSD Pike Township's transportation services. Our students and families deserve to have instruction as they normally would and not to be caught in the middle of a labor dispute. We know that this negatively impacts our students and is an extreme hardship for many of our families and are doing everything we can to address it.
We are hopeful that while we consider the concerns brought forward, our staff will continue to serve our community and the children entrusted to them. We are so grateful for the vast majority of our teachers and staff, who continue to come to serve and teach our students."