The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

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April 28, 2010

South Madison approves new teachers contract

PENDLETON, Ind. — Teachers in South Madison Community Schools will pay more for their health insurance next school year under a new contract the school board approved Wednesday.

The board approved a contract with salary and benefit revisions through the 2010-2011 school year that South Madison Chief Financial Officer Joe Buck said would save the district about $850,000.

“I very much appreciate the hours the bargaining team put in — ours and theirs,” said teacher Heidi Moore, a member of the South Madison Classroom Teachers Association bargaining team and a union vice president. “I’m thrilled to have it passed.”

Like other Indiana school districts, South Madison is facing a budget deficit due to reductions in state funding. Earlier this year, the South Madison Board approved wide-ranging cuts that were meant to help offset a budget deficit of more than $2 million.

“This is a step in the right direction,” board member Chris Boots said before the board voted 5-1 in favor of the contract. “I think the teachers are helping out the district.” He commended administrators for “stepping up” and agreeing to pay a greater share of their insurance costs, and he urged teachers to forego incremental raises.

Board member Buck Evans was absent and member Michael Gaskill cast the lone dissenting vote, warning that deeper cuts are needed.

“We’re going to be dealing with, I think, more tough times ahead,” Gaskill said.

“I’m not antagonistic or against the teachers,” he said. “My fear is with this proposal we’re going to be sticking our finger in the hole in the dyke and going to have an avalanche later.”

Board secretary Amy McGinnis prefaced her vote in favor of the contract with an acknowledgement that more concessions are likely in the years to come. Cuts, she said, “will continue to come. ... Things are just beginning.”

Contact Dave Stafford: 648-4250, dave.stafford@heraldbulletin.com

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