Contract negotiations will affect students next year, teachers expect increased student load


By Lauren Burdick
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Because of the current ongoing contract negotiations between the teachers and the school board, some students already have noticed fewer available help outside of class. If the dispute continues, this trend may worsen during the 2009-10 school year.

According to U.S. History teacher Karen Taff, who is also a representative of the teachers’ union here, contract negotiations began a year ago. On Sept. 23, 2008, the school board declared impasse in contract negotiations. After an unsuccessful November mediation, an attempt to open new negotiations in January was also unsuccessful. At that time it was determined that the school board would go to Indiana Education Employment Relations Board (IEERB)-sponsored Fact-Finding, which occurred on April 16 of this year.

“We’re just waiting for the Fact-Finder to issue her report, and as soon as she does, we’ll have a better sense of direction in knowing where we are,” Taff said.

Until then, students must proceed with school, as some teachers refuse to work more than their contracted hours.

Still, some teachers appear to be continuing their teaching strategy as normal.

“I think that the teachers that have good reputations to the students often do more than just the minimum that’s specified in the contract,” sophomore Daniel Goldberg said.

Further lessening teachers’ availability to students next year, the recent $1.5 million budget cuts will cause many teachers here to add a sixth teaching period.

“Certainly there will be a negative impact on students at the high school in that the board’s budget cuts of earlier this year disproportionately fell on the secondary level,” Taff said.

At least 10 high school teachers have received ‘reduction in force’ notifications, and those positions will be absorbed by the rest of the staff and in increased numbers of teachers with a sixth teaching assignment. Those teachers will be unavailable to students during SRT.”

According to Taff, with a student load increase, many teachers will reach a “tipping point” where they are unable to designate as many assignments because of the sheer amount of grading.

Still, Taff said she hopes the contract disputes coupled with the budget cuts will have little effect on what students see in classroom instruction next year.

“Obviously we all would like to think, and will certainly do our very best to make sure, that classroom instruction doesn’t suffer. And yet we know that there’s much more to being an effective educator than the mere delivery of information,” Taff said. “Here at Carmel High School, we’ve tried to be more than just lecturers, and the total package of the delivery of instruction involves the preparation that you do outside of class, the quality of assessment that you give, and the effort that you put into each and every student.”