Indianapolis Public Schools is giving raises to about 1,700 employees, less than three months after voters approved an increase in property taxes to boost school funding.
The raises will increase pay for most support staff, administrators, and other district employees by at least 3 percent and as much as 22 percent for some positions, according to district officials. The increases, which the board approved Thursday night, will cost the district about $2.6 million each year. The move comes on the heels of an agreement in December that raised pay for teachers across the district.
The cash-strapped district has largely frozen base wages for support staff for close to a decade, according to Indianapolis Public Schools officials. They are some of the lowest-paid workers in the district, and the pay freeze has made it hard for the district to compete with other employers.
In November, voters approved a referendum to raise $220 million over eight years from taxpayers for operating expenses. Although the district is not yet receiving that money, officials expect an influx of cash in June.
“This is just another strategic decision we are making again to invest in the people who are investing in our school district,” said interim Superintendent Aleesia Johnson. “This moves us another step in the right direction.”
The raises will cover about 700 support staff — such as custodians, food center workers, and bus attendants — who are represented by the AFSCME Local 661 union. Most workers will get raises of at least 3 percent under the new contract, but some positions will get significantly larger raises to make pay more competitive, officials said. The largest increase will go to food center workers, who would get a 22 percent raise.
“I am thankful for the relationship that our local membership’s fostered with IPS,” said Vincent Bibbs, president of the local chapter of AFSCME. “[I] look forward to working together for future improvements benefiting both our children we serve and the members of Local 661.”
One reason why those employees are getting larger pay bumps is because it is hard for the district to fill positions and retain staff, said Scott Martin, deputy superintendent for operations. Before the increase, food center workers were typically paid between $10 and $15 per hour.
Average turnover for the department is about 16 percent, according to the district.
“The turnover is quite high,” Martin said. “Hopefully this makes it more attractive for us to attract employees.”
Another 1,000 staff members who are not covered by a union contract will also get raises of at least 3 percent. That group includes principals, support staff, and employees in the central office, such as human resources workers. Police officers will get a raise of 10 percent. Cafeteria workers will get raises ranging from 4 to 11.5 percent.
Most employees who have been with the district for 10 years or more will receive $500 loyalty bonuses, the district said. Employees who are on a final warning or performance improvement plan are not eligible for the raises.