Indianapolis Public Schools to raise starting salary for teachers to $50,400

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Indianapolis Public Schools will raise its starting teacher pay to about $50,000 next school year, a move its superintendent touts will keep the district in “the top tier” locally for new teachers’ salaries.

First-year teachers will start at $50,400 in 2022-23. The hike is part of a two-year union contract approved Thursday that will give an average 3% raise for teachers this school year and another 3% next year.

The new contract also increases the district’s match for teachers’ 403(b) retirement accounts to 50% of employees’ contributions, up to 6% of their annual salary. For a first-year teacher, that could potentially amount to about $1,500—far more than the previous $125 annual match.

“It shows that IPS realizes how important it is to recruit and retain high-quality educators,” said Jack Hesser, vice president of the Indianapolis Education Association. “This is an incredibly challenging job in an incredibly challenging time. However, with the resources available, we are pleased with this contract and that we’re moving in the right direction.”

IPS will have increased its starting salary by 25%, or about $10,000, over five years, fulfilling a promise to boost stagnant teacher wages through a $220 million referendum that voters passed in 2018. The district has also dramatically raised pay for its most experienced teachers by more than 50%, or $30,000, over the same time frame, to $92,600.

IPS is footing the bill for this contract’s raises through increases in state funding: “One way you could think about this is we are passing that increase directly into the hands of our teachers,” said Superintendent Aleesia Johnson.

The pay raises also come on the heels of statewide conversations on teacher pay. As lawmakers search for ways to help increase salaries, they set a bar for starting teacher salaries at $40,000—a threshold that rural districts in particular are struggling to meet.

Increasing teacher pay is “absolutely the right thing to do,” Johnson said. “We also know that this work continues to be in line with what we’ve heard from our legislators and our state leaders in terms of investments in our teachers.”

But the referendum boon has stirred controversy. Families and other advocates want the district to share those funds with charter schools under IPS’ umbrella, known as innovation schools. More than 10,000 students—1 out of every 3 students in the district—attend IPS partner schools independently run by charter operators.

Those advocates say the district is causing funding inequity by not splitting its referendum funds, cutting some schools out of the extra dollars that others benefit from.

In Indiana, charter schools don’t receive local property tax dollars and instead largely rely on state funding.

Without local funding, charter schools are at a disadvantage in competing on teacher salaries. Teachers at innovation schools are not part of IPS’ teachers union and not covered by the same contract.

At Thursday’s board meeting, two district board members echoed community members’ calls to share referendum funds among the district’s “family of schools.” IPS Board President Evan Hawkins asked the administration to present a plan later this month on how it would divide those dollars.

“I do want to recognize the incredibly passionate requests that this board has received from members of our community, and especially from parents and educators” Hawkins said, “about the significance of fair and equitable funding—and more specifically the 2018 operating referendum.”

Chalkbeat is a not-for-profit news site covering educational change in public schools.

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13 thoughts on “Indianapolis Public Schools to raise starting salary for teachers to $50,400

  1. I have never personally meet any teachers making $92K per year. That’s insane. If they do exist that is over paid for any teacher in my opinion. I stand behind the other salary increases.

    1. Is it, really? I can envision performance justifying such compensation.

      Either way, the problem with our education system is quality of life at home and participation by the parents (or lack thereof).

    2. Right on, Murray R; right on. Both my wife and I have Indiana Life Teaching licenses and have taught in Indianapolis Public Schools. You are spot-on with your basic assessment of the root problem in public school education today.

  2. Indiana lists 180 school days in their union contract. Even when 8 paid holidays, and two weeks (10 working days) vacation are added (this is normative in the private sector, but the union contract may provide something else), that is 198 days. Annualized for comparison to “full time, 52 week per year private sector employment”, teachers are paid to work 3.81 days per week or 30.46 hours per week. This is considered “part time employment” in the private sector. For”full time private sector positions”, workers are paid for 52 weeks, or 260 days per year. So the new starting teacher pay of $ 50,400 equates to a salary of $ 66,181 per year if teachers were employed full time, like their peer professionals in the private sector. There may be minor discrepancies in the above calculations as the union contract may provide more holidays, etc. but the point is that teaching is a part time vocation, which is not to say it is unimportant or of any less value than other professions. It is likely teachers work more than eight hours a day grading assignments and preparing lesson plans, etc. … just as many private sector salaried employees work more than eight hours a day to perform work they are required to deliver. The point is that when compensation is reported in a news article like the above, it should specify the term for which someone is compensated, so it is obvious to the reader how that compares to other professions.

    1. Teachers are paid to be in the classroom 180 days, but they work on a lot more days than that. They also invest that “off” time and money into continuing education due to the requirements to be recertified on a regular basis. Most teaches I know spend many days before and after the school year as well as during holidays working – days you’d call unpaid.

      Teachers that make higher amounts are generally doing so because of the additional education and experience they bring to the role – similar to what happens in the private sector.

      People jump on the 180 contracted days, but the reality is, the teachers I know (and I’m not a teacher, but am married to someone that was one) could not do the job if that is all they actually worked.

    2. Amen. Teachers being underpaid is one of the most overused and worst excuses for a raise that I’ve ever heard.

  3. You get what you pay for. How many people are willing to get a 4 year degree and then work in a challenging environment like ips for 50k annually. That’s the start pay, and then if like Pike and others the annual increase is minimal over the next five years.

    These aren’t raises, this is a catch up to our little friends Inflation.

  4. We can criticize public education all we want, but we should all recognize that we will not see any meaningful education reform until we pay teachers more. In a competitive labor market, schools are not going to find good teachers paying low salaries. As it stands now, many public school teachers are people who ended up in education because they failed get into nursing school, were not successful in industry, or otherwise used the education path as a backup. Further, the good teachers who wanted to be teachers from the beginning of their university experience often leave to pursue more profitable careers. We are never going to fix the problems in public education unless we raise pay and raise standards.

    Now, to go on a tangent, I strongly believe that our public education system is very inefficient, turns students into “poster monkies”, and question whether 11th and 12th grades are even needed for most students. Hopefully a more competent and higher-paid teacher core will help fix these problems.

  5. Im confused as to why this is even a debate?Teachers,medical personnel as well as cops should all start at $50,000 year
    At the very least,Indiana has to keep up with or above surrounding states to compete

  6. Many comments above make good points as to why teacher compensation should be increased as a means to attract and retain competent, qualified instructors. As important as increasing compensation is the mechanism to assess performance, which has been shunned by most teachers and the ISTA (union). They want no accountability. This may be due to the overwhelming prospect of preparing all students to prove proficiency on standardized testing. Not easy to manage your product (in this case what students learn and can show they know by exams) when there are many other variables like student motivation and support or lack of support at home that impact testing performance.Compensating teachers at a higher level cannot be justified unless they produce a quality product. That means there must also be a plan of action to improve student motivation and overcome obstacles and lack of support at home at the same time compensation is increased.

    1. Mark, that’s because the teachers are getting sole accountability. Are parents penalized for students who show up to avoid truancy and do nothing else? Rarely.

      I mean, if teachers have a classroom of kids with difficult home lives, who don’t want to be there? And their compensation is on the line for factors they can’t control for? It’s not private industry where you can fire your employees and look for more motivated ones… you’re asking teachers to go down with the ship.

      The end game then is that districts like IPS would have to pay WAY more than $50,000 a year to get anyone to sign up for that challenge… at which point people would complain about how overpaid the IPS teachers are. And teachers in the “good” school districts (the ones flush with money already thanks to the school referendum scam) would be the only place a teacher who wanted to keep their jobs would go.

  7. One thing not being looked at and must be considered beyond a salary is the sweet benefit and retirement packages they get. I know some teachers that retired young. Some have second careers and others live off their pension which must be pretty good to retire in your 40’s and 50’s if you want. Certainly those kind of benefits add up. I was always told I’ll do better with a 401k in the private sector, but that math has not worked out so I envy those who have good pensions and supplemental healthcare benefits.