Indianapolis Public Schools teachers could see raises in early 2019, the result of voters decisively approving a property tax increase Tuesday night to funnel an additional $220 million to the district over eight years.
The timeline for teacher raises depends on how quickly the district can reach an agreement with the union, and then how quickly that agreement can be approved by the school board. Ferebee said Wednesday a contract could possibly be ready and approved by the end of the year or early 2019. That contract would include raises that would be retroactively applied for the first half of the 2018-19 school year.
Ferebee didn’t say how much the raises would be. The district has previously committed to 2 percent raises, saying the extra funding must also cover existing salaries and health benefits. He said the final raise amount still needs to be negotiated.
“Ideally the raise would be significant,” Ferebee said. “We are mindful that this is an eight-year referendum, and so we have to consider not only where we are today, but where we hope to be over the next couple years.”
Upping teacher pay was central to the district’s operating referendum ask, which will raise $220 million over eight years. IPS also won a second referendum Tuesday to raise $52 million for improvements to school buildings, such as exterior lighting, fire sprinklers, and secure entrances. The two measures, totaling up to $272 million, passed easily, and they will bring much-needed money to the district, which is running a steep budget deficit.
“We are also excited about the margin of victory,” Ferebee said. “This is a win for the children of Indianapolis Public Schools, allowing us to make critical updates to our buildings for safety and security in a time when that is top of mind for many families. In addition to that, allowing us to make investments in our teachers and raising compensation.”
Current negotiations are focusing on the 2018-19 school year. Later in 2019, Ferebee said the district and the union would go back to the bargaining table to reach another two-year agreement.
It’s also unclear what the state will contribute to schools for the next two years, Ferebee said, and a new budget — typically passed in the spring — will shed more light on how the district can incorporate raises into its budgets and bargain going forward.
And the district still faces considerable cuts. Currently, it has a deficit of about $20 million.
Ferebee didn’t elaborate Wednesday on possible cost-cutting measures or when they would start. He said the district is working through plans for underused buildings, such as the now-closed Broad Ripple High School. Once the district has dealt with those issues, it plans to update the community through quarterly finance meetings about what comes next.
“I don’t anticipate us getting into those discussions until we’ve had further analysis around enrollment and potentially redistricting that would occur,” Ferebee said. “When that’s done, we’ll move on to the next set of strategies.”