School Board ratifies contract with teachers, enrollment continues to decline

Carol Anders

The Plymouth School Board ratified the Master Contract with the corporation teachers at a meeting last week.

The PEA (Plymouth Education Association) membership had ratified the contact by unanimous vote on the Wednesday prior to the board’s ratification. Board Vice-president Larry Holloway was absent from the meeting, making the vote 4-0.

Laura Kruyer, co-president of PEA said, “PEA entered negotiations anticipating that PCSC would once again receive less money from the state. With financial challenges in mind, PEA set the goal of maximizing certified salary savings and maintaining financial viability.”

Kruyer added, “The $621 base pay increase is a 1.8 percent for a beginning teacher and less than a 1 percent increase for those teachers at the top of the scale. While a raise is a positive, there is more work to be done to make teacher’s salaries competitive with other comparable professions.”

As she has stated during previous meetings, Kruyer said, “Teacher’s throughout the state of Indiana are struggling to keep up with inflation and the cost of living as less and less money is becoming available for public education.”

In order for a teacher to be eligible for the $621 base salary increase, they must be a full-time, have been rated as highly effective or effective the previous year, and worked a minimum of 120 days.

Teachers pursuing additional credentialing or licensure can receive a $500 stipend upon successfully completing and passing the course work. They can receive a stipend on time each semester and once during the summer break.

If grant monies become available, teachers would be paid $18.31 per hour for the time they spend in professional development training that is approved by the corporation and completed outside contracted days and hours.

In order to offer more AP (Advanced Placement) or Dual Credit Courses, staff who teach at least one AP Course or who teach at least one dual credit course may receive a $700 stipend from a budgeted $20,000 through Title II.

In other matters, Superintendent Andy Hartley advised the board of the current enrollment of the PCSC schools as well as a comparison over the past five school years. The State of Indiana verifies enrollment two times per school year and compensates school corporations on a per child rate.

As of September of the 2018-2019 school year, the enrollment is 3470.45, down from 3513 for the 2017-2018 school year. There has been a steady decline since the 2014-15 year when enrollment was 3726. In 2015-2016 at 3665, and 2016-2017 at 3598.61.

According to Hartley, the decreased enrollment has meant a loss of $1.7 million dollars. Referring to the monetary loss, Hartley said, “We’ve taken steps to be good stewards.”
Lincoln Junior High English as a New Language teacher, Ryan Ahlrich, and four of his students presented ways they are meeting goals in reading, writing and organizational skills to the Plymouth School Board on Tuesday, Oct. 2.

Ahlrich said, “I begin every year telling my students that this is a class of survival. “ “They will face immense challenges and I think about how they will be successful academically.” He said the students focus on their own specific language skills. Students are placed a different levels depending on their reading skills and vocabulary.

Fernel Lemus Castellanos told the board members that he is from Honduras and has only been in the United States for a year and a half. He said he works on writing and speaking goals by using a high frequency vocabulary and writing compound sentences. Ahlrich said Fernel is a level 2 student, but set his own goals at level 3 for the project he was demonstrating.

Karla González Alvarez is a 7th grader who has been in the USA for one year. She showed how she uses a graphic organizer to complete her work. Each of the students were required to put together a video that will be linked to the school board minutes.

Alan Sosa Pedro is also a 7th grader. He demonstrated how he wrote a summary using compound sentences along with a graphic organizer. He has been in the US for one year and one month.
Fernando Pacheco Zelaya is originally from Honduras, has been in this country for five years and is working at a level five skill set. He said he is working on reading, writing and speaking goals so that he will be able to state his opinion.

Larry Pinkerton, board member, said their presentation was very impressive. Brooke Busse, who works throughout the schools on curriculum, said the class is high energy whenever she visits in the classroom. She said, “They are intentionally developing language skills.”