South Bend teachers frustrated over referendum promises
SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- South Bend teachers say they feel under valued as many entry level teachers are making more than those who have dedicated several years to the district. Even after getting $2,000 raises last year, educators are ready for more competitive salaries.
“This corporation is not recognizing what we’ve been doing for the last year and a half. Especially let alone all those people that have been in this corporation for 10-20 years and they had their salaries frozen," said Anita Peters, a teacher for the district.
Peters has been a teacher in the district for 7 years. She voted in favor of the referendum last year even encouraging her own daughter to vote yes, despite the significant increase in property taxes.
“She voted yes for it and she even messaged me when it passed, mom it passed, I hope you get a raise," said Peters.
For many the decision to vote yes was based largely on the promise of raising teacher salaries something Ej Chaleff, a teacher at Madison Steam Academy, says hasn't happened.
“This referendum was supposed to be we fight for this money. You guys help us get this money passed we’re gonna use it to help with your salaries, to help with curriculum, to help with things that we need and now that referendum money has been spent at the top. I would love to know where," said Chaleff.
According to the corporation they provided funds through cash reserves, which was later paid back through the referendum to provide every teacher with a $2,000 raise last year.
National Education Association President for South Bend Linda Lucy says that’s actually not the case. During bargaining meetings last year, she says it was made clear no funds from the referendum were going towards raises.
“This year once again we asked and we hadn’t really forced the question what portion of the referendum money are you dedicating to teacher raises. We finally got none," said Lucy.
While bargaining for next year hasn’t happened yet, Lucy says her goal is to get the salary increases previously promised by the corporation.
“We need to reconfirm teacher value in this corporation," said Lucy.
The corporation claims they have already spent 3.1 million dollars of referendum money on teacher salaries.